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(hx) 03:35 PM CET - Jan,20 2005

Developed by Bugbear Entertainment (Rally Trophy makers), FlatOut is an action-packed racing game that is using physics not just as a neat little feature but as an important part of the gameplay. Unlike the other racing games, FlatOut focuses on your ability during a race to crash your vehicle into other cars and affect the environment. Each track has many dynamic objects that you can crash into. Not only do these objects react individually (e.g. each tyre in a tyre wall flying off in their own path), but they and the car deform and react accordingly. There's also popular Nitro which can be collected by destroying the mostly brittle scenery around you. Sounds good, doesn't it?

In single player mode there are three game play modes: career mode, quick race and time trial. The career mode has altogether 36 different tracks (divided into three categories - bronze, silver and gold) based on five different environments: a forest dirt track, an abandoned old racing track, a huge in-use sand pit taken over for racing (with deep dumps, puddles of dirty mud and various obstacles), a slippery and snowy winter environment and a countryside village. Each track has many different shortcuts or situations where you can either win time for yourself or cause obstacles to your opponents - the tracks are highly interactive with tires, logs, signs and more able to move and interact with the cars. You start off with a relatively under-powered, battered-up car. As you progress through the races it is possible to upgrade your car with many different parts including the engine, transmission, exhaust and suspension. Once you have accumulated enough cash you can also purchase a completely new car. The game includes 16 fully upgradeable cars which, although not named after real cars, often have a strong similarity. The cars themselves are modeled very well and they even have a fairly realistic looking damage model. The vehicle handling is tailored to suit the arcade style of the game perfectly. However, the races can be quite difficult without the proper vehicle and upgrades. To win any race, you also have to have skill and be very aggressive.

In the quick race mode you have all tracks and cars you have unlocked available, and you go for a quick spin around the tracks. The time trial mode is for perfecting your skills and it is identical to the quick race mode except that there are no AI cars on the track. In addition to the racing tracks, there are 12 bonus games that get unlocked as you progress through the Bronze, Silver, and Gold racing classes. These bonus games include such modes as Long Jump, High Jump, Darts, Bowling, Clown's Face, Bulls Eye. For instance, the darts minigame sends your car down a few ramps to pick up speed, then up one final ramp with a bump that sends your driver flying through the windshield upward at an angle toward a gigantic dartboard. Sadistic? Yes! Enjoyable?? Very!! :) To make the bonus portion even more brutal, there are also three Demolition Derbies tracks which are, as you might have suspected, all about pure destruction!

As mentioned above, physics are an essential part of the gameplay and the environment. Tires get flung around when you crash into them, marker cones fly or get stuck under your car, barrels roll around, fences and other wooden objects splinter into bits and so forth. Everything you do will affect the track and change the environment. The next time you come around to that particular demolition site, the debris will be there to set off another round of spectacular collisions. Besides, the game uses the ragdoll physics of the driver - if you crash the car at too great a speed, you fly out of your seat, through the front window and in true ragdoll physics fashion. The cars are fully deformable, everything from your bumper swinging off to broken glass as you hit a tree, an opponent car etc. Parts like doors and panels come unstuck and then they start flapping from your car until they are completely torn off. There's no doubt that FlatOut has most interactive racing environments to date.

In terms of multiplayer, the game includes hot-seat play for the bonus games as well as eight-player LAN racing. It's fairly enjoyable to play over LAN, however getting more LAN players requires multiple copies of FlatOut .Probably the biggest disappointment with this game is the lack of online racing through Internet. I've heard that they dropped online support from the PC version due to lack of time (Xbox owners get to play online through Xbox Live service). Fortunately, the FlatOut community on the Internet has already made a patch for playing the game through Internet. So, if you still want to play online, try this unofficial patch. Surprisingly, the developers also removed the split-screen mode. Well, we can't have everything...

Overall, I strongly feel that FlatOut is one of the best arcade racing game I have ever played. Check this game out - you won't be disappointed!

related links: homepage, publisher's homepage, demo (167MB), retail patch v1.1, FlatOutNet - unofficial patch that adds Internet multiplayer

Note: The game is already out in Europe and is due for release in the US in March 2005.

System requirements:
Minimum: 1.5GHz Pentium 4 or AMD Equivalent, 256MB RAM, 64MB DirectX 9.0c Compatible Graphics Card, DirectX 9.0c Compatible Sound Card, 1.1 GB of free Hard Drive Space
Recommended: 2.0 GHz Pentium 4 or AMD 2000+, 512MB RAM, 128MB DirectX 9.0c Compatible Graphics Card, DirectX 9.0c Compatible Sound Card, Gamepad or Steering Wheel, Windows XP SP2, Ethernet adapter for LAN games.

snd: 4/5 - solid, crisp, realistic Doppler effects, soundtrack fits the game well
gfx: 5/5 - superb, cars are highly detailed, excellent damage model, well done environments, ragdoll physics of the driver, less-detailed human models, no in car view, limited replay system
playability: 4/5 - fast-paced racing, incredibly destructible, straightforward controls, excellent mini-games (from bowling to long jumps to demolition derbies), 16 different cars, multiplayer through LAN up to 8 players (no native TCP/IP or other Internet support), hotseat play (up to 4 players on 1 PC), no split-screen mode
genre: arcade-like racing
platform: PC (also available on PS2, Xbox)
release: December 2004 (Europe)
developer: Bugbear Entertainment
publisher: Empire Interactive
Overall: 82%

last 10 comments:

xxxx(04:52 PM CET - Jan,20 2005 )
Anyone try this out? Let me know how it is. Was gonna download the demo last night but forgot. My son loves racing cars and cars in general but even he is totally bored of NFS U2. Looking for something new to keep him going.

xxxx(02:57 PM CET - Jan,21 2005 )
This is a cool game. Love the graphics. I'm hoping there is a way to disable the guy flying out of car in normal racing. I'd love if my son could play it but a little afraid the guy flying out of car is freaking him out. When your kid is saying "Dadda boom in car" that kinda tells me something. Hahahaha!! Ya great game, hopefully this is toggleable. But it appears to be somewhat of a feature and damn hilarious. I played this game/demo most of nite last night laughing my butt off when I flew out.

Stumpus(06:35 PM CET - Jan,21 2005 )
It's an excellent physics engine and the ragdoll driver is 'toggleable' in the full game

There is also a mod out for the demo i think? try searching the flatout forums
This link has mods etc for the game,1.html

The only thing i hate about it are the camera and replays are CRAP! Bugbear WONT patch it to support any of the wanted features and the folks have been waiting eons for the SDK, *if* it's going to be released...

If this had the amazing replay suite that Carmageddon had (switch to other drivers cars,amazing slow-mo,save replay and free cam etc,etc) then it would be a success, but it's more a technology demo once you've played it a 100 times like i have! LOL

xxxx(07:48 PM CET - Jan,21 2005 )
hilarious i searched their forums and came up with nothing.. Thanks for the info Stumpus. I don't know I love it. Myself I love the game. I haven't checked out the replays, actually just trying to finish a race without killing myself. Maybe I will read up on the forums a bit more and see what's up with the game. From the demo though, I really like it.. The graphics to me are just amazing!

CaptStar(03:10 AM CET - Jan,23 2005 )
I agree with you XXXX, this game is friggin amazing. Im playing the demo and I am addicted to it. The Highjump thing is the best part, im pretending there is an Extreme Auto Contest, along with commentators voiced by myself.
Ive been able to reach 106 metres, how about you XXXX?

Anonymous(06:17 AM CET - Jan,23 2005 )

xxxx(04:12 PM CET - Jan,23 2005 )
believe it or not, runs well on my radeon 9700 pro. Definitely one of the best looking racing games I seen. The Nascar demo sucks really bad.

CaptStar(04:46 PM CET - Jan,23 2005 )
I downloaded the new NASCAR demo, and when I installed it, I got an error so I said "screw this, ill download Flatout". Im glad I did.
Now if only I could get Counterstrike to work.

Anonymous(08:57 PM CEST - Jun,07 2005 )
Well I bought this game and must agree with the review just go out and buy it at bill but seriously this game needs a backer there only a small company and the oline part of game just flat out wont work but the guys at mco forum are working hard on geting it up and runing with there own time and money they could do with a little suport.vist the forum here the game looks good game play is excelent and the most fun raceing game ive played this game is * :lol: *

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