|System: PC, 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: Aug. 28, 2008||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1-8||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Teen||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by Cole Smith
Of course, I'm obligated to rate each game I review based on its own meritsor demerits, as the case may be. Occasionally, I encounter some gray area. In this instance, FlatOut: Ultimate Carnage is little more than an updated version of FlatOut 2. When I say updated, I mean that you wouldn't even call this an expansion pack.
Not only that, but FlatOut 2 was originally created for the PC and was then ported to the Xbox 360 before being "updated" and returned to the PC with a different name. So, how do I tackle rating this game? On its own, Ultimate Carnage is one great arcade-style racing game. But, if you've already played and / or purchased FlatOut 2, you will likely want to steer clear of this version.
It pays to read reviews and not just gloss over them. Don't just check out the scores, as there may be a good explanation that you will may find helpful. Hell, I might even start embedding clues to buried treasures in my reviews to get you to read them. Just for starters, you read this entire review and I promise to tell you how you can acquire more than a million dollars. Seriously! Now keep reading. I get paid by each word you read. Trust me; we're watching you. Wave!
Ultimate Carnage is an unpretentious arcade racer. It's fun, it's good looking, and it's got plenty of interesting modes and mini-games to give it replay value. It's not very deep, at least in terms of vehicle upgrades, and it doesn't require sim-like driving skills that can take months to master. This is a pick-up-and-play racer that one would be more likely to encounter on a console rather than a PC. Ultimate Carnage is going to require some serious processing due to the excellent destructive modeling.
Career mode is the hub of the game. This is where you work your way to the top of the racing food chain by entering and qualifying for various races. Coming in third or higher will earn you money that can be put towards upgrades or newer vehicles. The upgrades are limited. They are little more than stat increases which affect the overall performance of your vehicle, making it faster and easier to control. Like most arcade-style upgrades, you don't really note many differences in the first few. This can be attributed to graduating to a more challenging track and performing against new and more challenging opponents, thus having nothing to compare them to; a textbook example of all things being relative.
Along with the Cup races that you must qualify for, there are open races you can take part in to earn more money. This is a good inclusion for those of us that sometimes hit a brick wall in the learning curve. Instead of having to re-race the same track over and over again in hopes of finally gaining enough skill, or just getting lucky enough to come in third, you can use the extra money to upgrade your vehicle to give you an edge. It's a well-paced gameplay design that never leaves you feeling bogged down. On the other hand, it doesn't coddle you. There's always a challenge, but it's always within reach, regardless of your skill level.
Arguably the most fun you're going to have is with the reckless pursuit of pursuing wrecks. The environments is virtually totally destructible. You can make a huge mess before physics takes over and you're eventually stopped by friction in the form of signs, fences, tires, buildings, and other vehicles. The damage modeling is great. If you hit some objects hard enough, they will actually become embedded in your vehicle until you shake them off. The A.I. is really well programmed and will make efforts to avoid you and other vehicles, but not all the time. They do display human error.