If you ever get the urge to crash your virtual car and send your driver flying out the windshield, then FlatOut is for you.
FlatOut is a destructive racing game for current-generation game systems.
The main purpose of the game is to compete in a career racing mode. You can equip your car with upgrades that allow it to accelerate faster and survive crashes better, among other things. But the real draw of the game is the destructible cars and environments.
FlatOut's courses include many destructible objects that you can crash into and send flying across the track. You'll even get bonus cash for doing so.
But the cars themselves take damage, and boy does the damage look good. The damage the cars take is very realistic and looks good visually.
In addition, if you crash badly enough, you can send your driver flying through the windshield. While this is a neat feature, you pay dearly in career mode for the amount of time it takes to watch your driver get rag-dolled against buildings and other things.
There are many bonus games in FlatOut, such as a destruction derby. You can also take part in a high jump competition, where you try to send your driver flying as high as possible when your car launches off a really high ramp.
These bonus games are fun, but repetitious after some time and you'll likely head back into career mode after taking a dip into them.
Unfortunately, the computer AI in the career mode leaves much to be desired.
It is mighty difficult to keep a lead in career mode.
Getting used to the controls is one thing, but keeping a lead on the computer while driving flawlessly is certainly a challenge.
The back rubber-banding of the AI is really tight, so expect the computer to catch up to you fast.
The rubber-banding on the AI is also a little tight when you are behind, so expect to be able to catch up to the back of the pack rather easily in most races.
The multiplayer aspect of the game is probably the best aspect. Tossing away the suspect computer AI entirely, this game is definitely fun to play with buddies or online. Getting to see other players "flat out" wreck is fun indeed. The element of human players brings something to the game that isn't present with the computer AI: the prospect of seeing someone wipe out in a dramatic and very humorous fashion.
There really isn't enough to FlatOut to make it a truly great game. It can get repetitious too quickly, and is really at its best only when you have enough human players to make a full game of it. Not a bad game, but certainly not the best racer around.
(This review originally featured in UNLV's student newspaper, The Rebel Yell
. The game is available here