FlatOut Review

Share |
This is the game for those that have been waiting for an experience close to what Destruction Derby 2 offered almost ten years ago - fast racing, big crashes, and continuous fun. Bugbear has also added some extra features to complete the mayhem; such as precise physics and damage modeling; mini games; and a wonderful graphics engine. It can even be considered a modern remake of Reflections’ classic racer since it combines all elements that made Destruction Derby fun but remains original at the same time.
Gameplay
Flatout is a rally game on closed circuits but instead of racing a Citroen you’re competing against a bunch of no-name junkyard scrap with one of your own. Races are frantic and chaotic thanks to a great combination of narrow roads, physics and fast opponents. Maneuvering through steep and tight corners while trying to avoid numerous side road obstacles with determined drivers on your tail is what makes arcade racing great. Flatout features a precise driving model which is responsive and really makes you feel in control of your vehicle, allowing you to anticipate its next move.

Oops, forgot my helmet.
“Flatout features a precise driving model which is responsive and really makes you feel in control of your vehicle, allowing you to anticipate its next move.”

And the physics engine is not just for show like it is in Painkiller or Armed & Dangerous. Passing through barriers or build boards will slow you down--a lot or a little--depending on your angle and speed. Beware of tire pile ups because they are the worst of the lot: greatly reducing your speed, traction and direction--in other words your chance for victory. The same goes for electric poles, fences, other vehicles, or structures thought able to be driven through but turned out to be solid. To compensate for a lack of driving skills the developers have included nitro. Impressive crashes give you a lot of boost, knocking down a traffic cone a bored audience and little boost. Every bit of it counts though when you’re trying to catch up to your opponents, who don’t make as many mistakes as you’d like. The AI is tough and unforgiving even while trying to avoid unnecessary accidents.

"…the physics engine is not just for show like it is in Painkiller or Armed & Dangerous."


You don't have much time to admire the scenery when racing.
Speed is an important factor when passing through the environment because hitting a wall fast enough will catapult your driver out of the windshield with a nice display of ragdoll physics. At first this seems like a nifty little feature, but after the third eject you’d find it is just a cool gimmick, and later find it annoying at times since it delays the reset of your vehicle. You also realize that fun had a higher priority than realism on BugBear’s to-do list as they let you race around at 180km/h without wearing a seatbelt. The head-through-glass technique is used in the ragdoll arena where you accelerate and dump your driver forward trying to reach height, hit bowling pins, or play darts, as well as various other mini games.

Even though you’re given over thirty races in five different environments, the tracks are quite similar. It was all just left and right turns, none truly being unique or having features to remember them by. However, pacing and layout are perfect, with enough variation in structure to provide lap after lap of excitement. Each race has plenty of shortcuts, bumps and jumps to provide a constant challenge. All of them are literally covered with physics enabled objects, but collapsing walls or falling bridges will not come down on you as there are practically no heavy objects in the game. BugBear has successfully mixed fun racing and destruction, neither of which takes precedence over the other thanks to a good balance between the two.

As a tribute to Destruction Derby we’re given the very fun Demolition Arena, enclosed circular tracks of destruction, where the point is to stay alive as long as you can. To complete the tribute BugBear has decided to give us the same depth of customization that Destruction Derby offered – none. Track parameters such as laps or time of day cannot be changed--there are actually no night races in the game. You can’t personalize your driver. Worst of all, though, Flatout has horrible instant-replay controls: Flatout features fun to watch car crashes and yet they cannot be saved or rewound and the camera cannot be moved. Only being able to watch and exit is extremely disappointing, if not the biggest letdown in the game. The only degree of customization is changing car color, making additional vehicles and tracks the sole difference between full version and demo; as well as the ability to buy various upgrades such as new engine or exhaust sytems, adding some amount of strategy to your game.

"Only being able to watch and exit is extremely disappointing, if not the biggest letdown in the game."

Graphics / Sound
After seeing some of the first screenshots last year I was convinced that my 2100+/Ti4200 combo would not be able to handle the game, yet I should not have doubted the Fins. Think Max Payne 2 as a racing game - crisp and sharp textures, excellent modeling, great lighting and shadows, fluid performance, and physics. I’d like to thank BugBear for finally spending the time to deliver a fantastic damage model in a racing game. Even though no one has been able to surpass Carmageddon 2 in that area Flatout comes as close as you can get. It beats anything I’ve seen on the PC since 1999, and when accompanied by some outstanding collision effects, you’d often find yourself aiming at someone else’s rear bumper rather than the pole position.

Warned you about the tires.
Sound, overall, was not that impressive but seemed adequate with a nicely done soundtrack.

"I’d like to thank BugBear for finally spending the time to deliver a fantastic damage model in a racing game."

Multiplayer
Hot seat for up to four players taking turn through the mini games, as well as LAN and internet play is available. I did not have a chance to race with anyone, but considering how fun single player is, multi can only get better. A good thing is that here you’re allowed to choose the number of laps.

Conclusion
I do feel like I reviewed the demo and described you things you can easily try for yourself. Still, the game is immensely fun to play even without lots of features and options, because it offers quick and polished racing, Destruction Derby style. Flatout is more like an old school shooter in the racing genre, avoid lengthy gaming sessions and you’ll have a great time.
The end result is not so pretty.

That's just begging for a crash.

 

Let's see how high this thing can go.

 

Looks great even up close.

 

Good:

- graphics, performance, physics, damage

- quick to boot and have fun with

- great presentatio

 

Bad:

- replay controls

- limited customization


Game Search: