|System: X360||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: BugBear||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Empire Interactive||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Oct. 2, 2007||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1-8 (Online)||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Teen||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by Adam Brown
As a long-time fan of the FlatOut series on the last-generation consoles, I was really excited about the release of a current-generation iteration. But instead of this being a true sequel, FlatOut: Ultimate Carnage is basically FlatOut 2.5. As one would expect, the Xbox 360 update has revamped the game's graphics. But unlike numerous previously updated games, there are actually a decent amount of other improvements as well.
When FlatOut 2 was released for the original Xbox, it had some of the most impressive graphics seen on the system. While the same can't be said about Ultimate Carnage on the Xbox 360, it does a great job of improving upon the original's graphics, making them almost seem terrible by comparison. All of the game's environments look stunning, almost diverting your focus away from the races. The lighting effects are also incredibly impressive, especially when reflecting off of the game's beautiful water and many vehicles. When impacted, which doesn't take long, the vehicles will show extremely realistic and accurate damage. The cars aren't the only things in FlatOut that are destructible; almost everything in the game can be collided with and turned into a healthy amount of debris. By the end of most races, you will barely be able to avoid the previous laps' shrapnel on the track.
These updated visuals help to accentuate what FlatOut's gameplay is all about. To have a chance to win any race, you must be able to maintain control over your vehicle while smashing every vehicle and object you can find to gain some much-needed nitro. Colliding with all of these things can sometimes spell a disastrous wreck, but you will often need to take chances to win a race. While the controls aren't quite as accurate as I had hoped for, they are still an improvement. Cars feel slightly less floaty while steering and seem to turn more easily. The only downside to the controls is the fact that every vehicle feels basically the same. While there are obvious size differences between vehicles, you can never really sense the difference between driving a giant truck or a tiny sports car. Each one feels like it goes relatively the same speed and corners equally as well.
You can compete in FlatOut mode, which hasn't really changed since the last game. You will race in a series of cups, finishing in third place or better to advance. The better you do, the more cash you will earn for vehicle upgrades to help keep you ahead of the pack. All of the twelve ragdoll minigames from the previous game are still included, allowing you to throw your driver through rings of fire or even to knock down bowling pins. While these stunts are all entertaining initially, you may eventually wish there had been a new one or two for this update. The destruction derby mode also makes a welcome return this time around. With several power-ups to collect and different game variants to choose from, this is definitely one of the best parts of this game. There aren't many things as satisfying as slamming a giant truck into every moving car that you see.
New to this title, however, is the Carnage mode. This mode is set up much in the same way as the Burnout series' events. There are over 30 events to choose from, each one with a different objective. You will be given points depending on how well you play and will need to finish with enough points to achieve a gold, silver, or bronze medal to advance. These challenges will range from destruction derby events to carnage races. Carnage races will have you earning points by destroying environments and vehicles and catching air from jumps. There is also a new mode called beat the bomb that can be found here. In this mode, you will need to speed to every checkpoint to add more time to the meter that keeps your car from exploding. While this isn't revolutionary, it is fairly enjoyable.