There's a new game that's looking to muscle in on Burnout 3: Takedown and Test Drive: Eve of Destruction's territory. Bugbear Entertaiment and Empire Interactive's FlatOut aims to get a piece of the high-impact racing genre's pie.
FlatOut brings over a dozen cars and nearly fifty tracks to the table. The cars are fully upgradeable, from the engine, to the suspension, to the wheels. FlatOut follows in the steps of recent games and delivers fully functional damage models for each of its cars. If you hit a tree or scrape a wall, your car will show that on its chassis. Hit enough stuff and you'll lose your car doors, hood, bumpers, and anything else that you can think of.
The tracks range from simple ovoid race tracks to tracks where the only point is to launch your driver hundreds of feet into the air, or perhaps through a target. "Wait," you say. "What do you mean by 'launch your driver?'" Sorry, did I forget to mention the main gimmick of the game?
In FlatOut, you can sling your driver through the front windshield and out into traffic if you wreck hard enough during a race (or press the proper button during a bonus game). Is this irresponsible on an epic level? I guess so, yeah. Is it fun? Definitely. It's an original idea and it's certainly entertaining. There's nothing quite like seeing your character explode through your windshield in a shower of glass, bounce off a wall, another car, and off into the forest somewhere. It's a dirty pleasure.
The graphics are exactly what you'd expect. Large, open, well-detailed tracks with tons of interactive trees, buildings, vehicles, and debris. If you can see it, you can either crash into it or bust through it. If you break something on one lap, expect to see it still broken on the next lap. There's none of that automatic repair stuff here, and that helps build the feeling of being in a real race. If you're tricky enough, you can swerve and knock your opponents into the scenery, causing them to lose precious time and give you the lead.
FlatOut is also looking to bring the pain on the multiplayer front. It supports split-screen, system link, and Xbox Live play. Also included is an ingenious mode called "Hotseat," where you pass one controller around and take turns doing the various bonus games.
FlatOut hits in mid-July, so be sure to check back here for the full review!
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