copyright © Jedo Dre 2011


Rati ng:

Impact: Irritating

Games like FlatOut don't come along often. Most racing games include several clear circuits with indestructible beautiful super-cars that race to techno-rock tunes: down to Earth serious racing. Well FlatOut is sort of a clown that makes an entry by jumping through the ceiling, holding a mini-gun, announcing "ta-daaam!" to the shocked public. So let's applaud....


The game gives the player a choice of several American muscle cars (you know, the huge, juicy and roaring monsters, with a casual number on their doors), and throws him to complete a large number of challenges in either "Career mode" or the "Quick race". These consist mainly of races in three categories: bronze, silver and gold, with each new race harder than the previous one. Each victory (third place or higher) wins the player cash, which he can then spend on upgrading his vehicle or buying a whole new one. Upgrading is done in quite an arcade fashion. For example, there are three types of suspension, and one is better and more expensive than the other. There are no specific technical explanations or thorough tweaking with the parts. As the player progresses through the challenges, new cars also become available. There’s nothing particularly noticeable about them, other than that they are even bigger and faster than the initiate vehicles.

The racing part occurs in all kinds of environments. There are paved circuits and farmland dirt roads and ways with black ice for skating with your 8-cilinder monster. Of course the cars behave differently in different places. When the car put on ice and gravel, things turn crazy and driving becomes a thorny task. But even on the pavement any secure feeling is quickly shot to pieces when the car is brought to its unrealistically high maximum speed. Everything starts to pass by, as if you were flying a jet under the line of the radar and not driving an old timer from the 50s. Slowing down doesn’t work because you will have to maintain high speed if you are to be competitive, which brings me to the AI.

The AI in many racing games is a point of frustration for many because it rarely makes any mistakes in cornering, as it follows an invisible line, drawn for it on the road. The player’s advantage then often lays in speed that he is able to gain during the straight stretches of the road. In FlatOut this AI aspect is back, worse then ever. First of all, the other drivers are completely oblivious to the player, and second, they all perform their driving on ferociously high speeds. The competition of any racing game can get irritating after a while. However, BurnOut might just be on top of this ladder. When you’re flying off the road, straight into a tree, trying desperately to catch up with the perfect rockets of your opponents; when you’re car is wrecked and is on fire, while their cars only have a few bumps, the irritation starts to really boil over.

The wreckage system part is one of the most noticeable features of the game. Many parts of the environment, and more importantly, the vehicles are destructible. This is where the core of the fun lays, and for some, perhaps, the irritation. The roads include many obstacles that the player can drive through. The cars can be reduced to a pile of burning metal on wheels. It’s fun from the immediate entertainment point of view, but can get annoying if you start making an effort to get alive to the finish as a winner. Perhaps where this feature is best utilized is in the destruction derby, one of the bonus challenges of the game. The goal here is to stay alive while wrecking other cars.

Another highly advertised by the developers feature, part of the destruction system, is the Rag Doll driver that flies out of the car during serious collisions. For those who don’t know, Rag Doll is a realistically behaving model, much like a puppet. The game creates several amusing mini-games with this feature. They are the central element of the bonus challenges. One of these consists of a huge dartboard with the challenge to throw the driver as precise as possible, and another of a huge ramp to throw the driver as high as possible. The game sure has a sense of humor.

The destruction derby and the mini-games, although combined under the name “bonus challenges”, seem, in fact, to be the core of the gameplay. Yet all of it grows old after some time. In most action games Ragdoll pysics is usually just a small part of the game. FlatOut attempts to make it one of central features. It’s original, but not that original to be such a trusted support column for the whole game.

Like any self-respecting racing game, FlatOut contain a multi-player. This is where all of the AI problems described earlier disappear. Eight players getting smashed all over the place is a lot more fun than common racing. The problem with the PC version is that there’s no on-line play, just the LAN.


The graphics are the game's highlight. Almost every part of the car can shatter, dent or fly off with sparks every time the car hits something, and the engine can smoke and catch fire. All these things are well modeled and detailed. The fun can be immortalized through the recording of it. The camera work is well done. Replays of your destruction fests are particularly pleasurable to watch.

The racing environments are all nicely depicted. The game succeeds in transferring a mood for every setting with things like gravel and snow being thrown from under the wheels. All models are very soft and curved. The reflections are on both the windows as well as the realistic looking metal texture of the car. In short, the game is colorful and detailed, like any arcade-oriented game owes to be. Consequently, the high graphical settings will tax the low-end systems heavily.


Most remarkable about the sound in the game are the soundtracks. The music, which consists of energetic rock, fits the game’s personality perfectly and is just as good for listening outside of the game as inside. The only flaw here is the menu ‘soundtrack that gets really annoying after you've heard it several thousand times. Sound plays a big part in portraying the character of the muscle cars, and it does the job well (not as good as one might expect, but well).


FlatOut is enjoyment on wheels. Unfortunately there's not much to add to that phrase, and it all gets a little boring after a while. Yes, the guy flies out through the windshield. Yeah, very funny, ha-ha…Yes, the car is trashed up, ha-ha-ha, but the competition seems to be immune to hard corners, and doesn’t give an impression of a dynamic competition. Hopefully you can find a few living participants to play with on LAN, to get the most out of the game. The highlight of the racing is seems to be a few bonus races, and that's just not enough for a serious value. Nevertheless, it is more than enough for a burst of enjoyment.