A Guest review by Gegsy
I have a confession to make. The thought of doing this review did not exactly fill me with joy. You see the thing is, despite nine years of having a full drivers license and considering myself to be a good driver, I plainly suck at driving games. I don't know what it is, I can handle the wheel and gears of a car without any hassle at all but stick on console pad in my hands and I have the ability to make a complete mess of any racing game I turn my hand to. I come dead last amongst all my friends in this genre and stick me against any computer AI opponent and they can beat me hands down, I am just truly awful.
So when Flat Out arrived in my hands for my loving attention it was with a huge amount of force that I made myself play the game. I just want to truly convey to you what an awful experience this game was going to be for me before we begin.
However, Flat Out, although it has all the characteristics, is not your run of the mill driving game. You see the main difference is it actually rewards me for my ineptness! Smash into the objects on the side of the road, you get more credit! Flip the car, you get more credit! Hopelessly smash into your opponents even though you were aiming to do a slick driving maneuver around them, you get more credit! All of a sudden I was starting to see that there was hope for me after all in this game.
Now typically EA's burnout has been the king of this kind of game and although familiar with it I had never really played it that much. Neither had I played the previous Flat Out incarnations, so this was all new to me thus bringing a much more (though hate filled) take on the game. What I did find about Flat Out was this, it is so easy to pick up. Where as previous games had frustrated me so much I actually found myself getting used to the controls and mechanics of this one really quickly. I was winning races and getting score bonuses like there was no tomorrow and finally beginning to see a light at the end of the nitro bursting tunnel.
The main thing that strikes you straight away are the tracks and the obstacles that they bring. You rip around in three different race types, Derby, Street and Race, and each one is gorgeously animated and provides the driver with different routs. The freedom is so varied. Don't want to stay on the main racing line? You don't have to! you can take short cuts through petrol stations and side alleys, over the tops of buildings and through barns, the variety here is truly something fresh and new. The graphics as well are truly beautiful and you find yourself coming across something that you didn't notice before on the way around.
You can earn credit by racing and this gives you the equivalent of money in the Flatout world. Depending on which type of event you want to race in you purchase the starter car to begin with (basically the pile of heap that just about runs) and then gain more credit through racing and events to get more credit and purchase more cars. Credit value doesn't just stop with the cars either, each one can be tuned and tweaked to get the maximum performance out of each one. This sounds daunting at first but being mainly an arcade racer the upgrades are very simple. Each one shows on the bar what it does to the car and how it improves it, making this a very simple and easy process. Flatout is not concerned with spending hours fine tuning your weapon of choice, this is about good, straight forward smashing and racing so thankfully it leaves the high brow stuff Forza et al.
As well as the main career there are also fun side games that are always good for a laugh, Destruction Derbies being just one of them! There are the more bizarre ones though where your aim is to propel your driver out of the car in many different ways, be it baseball, high jump or even....i kid you not....curling! These provide a great laugh with friends participating as well and this action can all be taken online with Xbox Live.
The main frustration with Flat Out is the fact that because it is all about complete carnage there is a lot going on when driving and this can lead to you being knocked off the track and left completely helpless to do anything about it. Many times I was bearing down on the leading pack only for a car to come from nowhere and knock me into a tree. There is a reset button which puts you squarely back on the track but this all means a loss of time and inevitably you ending up last, with 12 cars racing this can happen very often.
It doesn't take away the enjoyment factor though. Flatout is not a game that will keep you entertained for days or test your skills to the limit. But most importantly it is good looking, easy to pick up and mainly fun! Whether you play it as a single player or get your mates round to have a laugh with the fun events, it is definitely worth checking out!