FlatOut Ultimate Carnage
Does this racer really deserve more attention?
I popped in Bugbear's new Xbox 360 version of FlatOut, FlatOut Ultimate Carnage, expecting something along the lines of Burnout but somewhere between the farmyard race with a greenhouse right on the racing line and the ski-jumping-style stunt I got to peer into the game's heart. And I liked what I saw.
FlatOut Ultimate Carnage is all about returning to your childhood, that time when you spent Sunday afternoons out in the back yard, taking your Matchbox cars and smashing them into each other, your brother, your cat - anything within easy reach actually.
It helps that the game controls superbly. The cars have weight to them and you can notice the changes as you fiddle with each of them in the garage. There's a whole range of improvements you can make to your motor, fine-tuning everything from your engine to the tyres. Just be careful that you don't do what I did and spend all your earnings on upgrades instead of buying a car in another class.
See, the main FlatOut mode has Derby, Race and Street portions, each with their own range of cars to buy, and getting the money to trade up isn't nearly as easy as it is in some other games of this type. The garage also isn't as well-stocked as some of FlatOut's rivals. The three modes have their essential differences but they're more similar to one another than you might initially think.
You'll get plenty of track time out of the meat-and-potatoes main career mode. This takes you to all sorts of backwater places and a few cities too, sending you through at high speed and with an eye for ultraviolence. Best of all, smashing the game world up is not only fun, it's useful too, since the more you destroy the courses and your rivals the more boost you earn. Not too dissimilar from Burnout then.
But that's fine, because Burnout doesn't have Carnage mode. Think of this as Evel Knievel in a car at the Olympics. There are about a dozen sports to take part in, each tasking you with launching your driver out the front window at the opportune time. In baseball, for instance, you drive to the mound, send your driver flying toward the sweet spot on a giant bat, and then guide him once hit to get maximum distance. In Carnage mode you go through these sports and various other events, such as destruction derbies and time-limited races, but you can play through them on their own as well.
With so many games these days taking themselves so terribly seriously, it's quite a relief to play something that is simply fun. And most of the time it's just that. There are the odd annoyances, such as the ramping difficulty and the slow pace of earning money for new cars and upgrades, but those are minor concerns. Give FlatOut Ultimate Carnage a try. You won't be disappointed.