FlatOut Ultimate Carnage Reader Review
I am in a bit of a hurry so I will try to make this a bit of a snappier shorter and sweeter review than my usual long winded rambles. I think I can make a few summaries too, to begin with. Here they are:
1) I have played racing games since about 1982. Grand Prix games, off road, rally games, street racing etc. In recent years I got a bit tired of the GP games, so I tended to play the Colin Mcrae games, and the Need For Speed games. I've played them all. This game, FlatOut Ultimate Carnage, I enjoy more than all of them put together.
2) If you have never played a FlatOut game before, you should go and buy this as soon as you can. I never usually say things like this, because it's toying with people's money.. but with this game I am so confident that it's a safe recommendation.
3) If you have played FlatOut games before, and you are dying to play more of the same, and updated with nicer graphics, tidied up, and probably some new stuff etc. Then go and buy this immediately.
4) If you played the FlatOut games before and are tired of them and you are hoping this will introduce a lot of new stuff and maybe take the game in a different direction, then skip this game. It does have new stuff! But it's still FlatOut, and the new stuff is basically built on top FlatOut2, and then they polished it all up and improved the graphics etc.
5) If you have never played FlatOut games and not sure what this is, and you are a fan of Formula 1 or something and you are looking for a super realistic simulation, then this is not the game for you. This is not a simulation, but it is arcade racing at it's finest.
Now for a bit more detail
I played the previous FlatOut game (FlatOut 2) and I loved it. Until this sequel, that was my favourite racing game. This game is basically more of the same, with a bit of new stuff. I can imagine some people might have wanted more, but I am happy with it, and to put things into perspective, it's not much different than all the EA sports games coming back each year with graphics upgrades. At least this has SOME new stuff. The main upgrade is the graphics. They really are better. They were great already in FlatOut2, but now they are a really next gen and lovely. It is right up to date with modern games, and a lot of what is special about these FlatOut games is that there is a massive amount of detail. Everything you drive into breaks, and it smashes and disintegrates into lots of pieces and blows over the hood/bonnet of your car and over the roof and then all over the road. It is realistic, looks great, and it isn't done to be flashy. It's done because when you do hit a sign or a lamp post or something at 70+mph, it would smash all over the place.
Anyway, the bulk of the game is racing which is split into various categories. The racing is straight racing, with no guns or gadgets, but it does have a nitro. It is absolutely 100% an arcade racing game, but that doesn't mean it is unrealistic or that the cars don't handle well. Because it feels and handles like a lot like real cars, and driving is plenty realistic enough. Picking a proper driving line is important and not forgiven because it's arcadey, but then you could always end up driving through the side of a shop window or something to cut the corner instead. So it's realistic, but it's action based as well so that stops it from getting too serious (which is largely why I much prefer games like this than simulations).
The absolute key to this game, is the massive variety it offers. I usually enjoy driving games, but I find that I get bored of them very fast. I can play them for a quick blast, sometimes for a week or so, and then get fed up and never go back to them. This game is completely different. First off, there are 3 (now 4) different types of tracks. Road racing, circuits, and then off road. (I haven't tried the fourth yet so I won't go into that here). They are all racing based but they just feel and play differently and they use different cars. It's enough to keep you interested for a much longer time, because after doing 30+ muddy off road races through farms and stuff, before you start getting tired of it, you then move on to the next stage which is racing through the streets and it is a breath of fresh air for the gamer. And yet you can still always go back to the other race types if you want more.
But the feather in this games hat, is that in addition to the 3 (now 4) racing modes, there are mini games too, and these mini games aren't some crappy little last minute addons to pad it out. These are the stars of the show in fact. First off and probably the biggest and best (at least to me anyway) is the destruction derby stages. There are lots of "arenas" where you play this, and they are very varied, and the objective is to basically destroy everyone and be the last one left driving. It is a LOT of fun... Not just an excellent way to take out your frustrations, but just really good fun in itself. It is mostly about just driving around watching the others and then you pick your moment and whiz in and try to smash into someone in the side or rear of their car. So it is LOLFUN!, but it does require a bit of skill and thought too. These arena matches alone are quite a big highlight to me.
Besides that though, there are dozens of these other very competitive games which you have to see to believe. Basically they are set in a huge kind of circus type environment, where you drive your car (often a jet propelled car in fact) down a big ramp, and then smash it into a wall and the driver comes flying through the windscreen, and you then have to control the driver as he flies through the air. Then you have to hit points on a dartboard, or do bowling where your driver is the bowl to knock down the pins, or you have to skim your driver over some water like skipping a stone etc... There are lots of them, they require different skills, and are different to play, and are all a LOT of fun. But it's also important to explain that although they sound silly, they really are good and not just some daft distraction.
I've played this by myself and loved it, and played it with friends over a LAN, and I could hear them laughing their heads off from a different room. When you think about it, there is so much of each of these game types, that you can basically go from street race, to off road race, to circuit, to destruction derby, to driver basketball or something, and then back through the loop again with different tracks and different games and arenas. So I just find it impossible to get bored, because all the different modes are great fun, and yet the variety means you are always doing something different each time and it's never just an endless stream of circuits to race - unless you want to do that of course. This is the main reason why this is my favourite racing game.
I could try and be more descriptive, and try to hype it up even more, but really, considering this game is only £17.99 at places like Play, and that is it's brand new price which will no doubt plummet downwards as the months go by... I just have to suggest you go and buy it and try it for yourselves. This really is the best arcade racing game you can get, as far as I'm concerned. It is just designed to be pure fun, and they succeeded. It has everything it's competitors have, but then much more, and the variety makes it the winner. I'm not even a racing game fan! I got bored of the Colin Mcrae/Need For Speed/Test Drive/ etc games in no time. But with this game, I happily play everything the game has to offer, and I never get bored along the way. And not only that, but with Flatout 2, I went back to it several months later and did it all over again because it was so much fun, and then there was all the multiplayer fun I got from it too. This game looks like it will offer that all over again for me, only with a real significant lick of paint.
1) I saw one person say the graphics haven't improved. That person is very wrong. Although hopefully you can see the graphics for yourselves if you search for some screenshots or movies. The graphics are good looking!
2) I have to give them special credit for how flawless this game is.. I can't even remember the last time I bought a game and didn't have to suffer through all kinds of annoying problems until the patches started rolling in. Admittedly this isn't as complex as something like Gothic 3 for example, but nevertheless, straight out of the box, it runs absolutely perfectly on my PC, I have played it for entire days and it hasn't crashed ever, I haven't come across any bugs at all, even minor ones.
I have a nice computer with an 8800GTX so that sometimes makes it hard to uncover any performance problems. I can only tell you what I encounter myself. And that would be an incredibly smooth game! It looks stunningly pretty, but amazingly, even when there are about 10 cars on the screen, that just had an enormous pile up on a freeway with a HUGE explosion and fences and road side signs and barriers being ripped to splinters, it doesn't even stutter..
9 out of 10.
Why not a 10? A wise man once told me that nothing is perfect, because there is always at least some small thing you could improve. He was my woodwork teacher and he was talking about wood crafted stuff :P But I like his philosophy and I think it applies to pretty much everything, so that's why I don't give anything a 10, but this game really tempted me..
9 / 10