Preview: Flatout (XB, PS2) Hands-On

Publisher: Empire Interactive / Developer: Bugbear / Genre: Racing Action / Release: 06-14-05

Flatout is a new Demolition Derby type racing game scheduled to be released on June 14th with a 49.99 price tag. It’s being released by Bugbear, a company I’ve never heard of before, but just the name reminds me of really weak Dungeon and Dragons monsters.

Flatout has three modes: Career, Time Trial, and generic race mode. All three modes give you a choice of five cars. Yes. I know. Five cars. I was wondering if we were back in the days of 16 bit gaming too. But then I remembered even those offered more than five cars in the later years of my Sega Genesis console. But you have 5 different colours your car can be so ooh! All better! Supposedly towards the end there are 16, but in a day and age where there are over 100 cars in most racing games, this leave me very underwhelemed.

Whether it is career or test run, you have a choice of three tracks to start from: A normal Race track, a track set in a forest, and “Brad’s Pit Crash.” From there you can move on to other tracks, but not until you beat the first track in the set you chose. Again, supposedly when you have unlocked everything, there are a total of 45 tracks to play on, but the game is so blah, I can’t imagine anyone going that far with it.

There’s no real difference between cars that I could tell and I tried them all. Controls are good. Just use the Analog stick to steer, the R trigger to accelerate, the L trigger to go in reverse, and that’s all you really need to know. Turn is pretty easy, but then your cars never go above 70 miles an hour, so it’s hard to compare to other games where you’re hitting twice that speed.

And the controls are really the only good thing about the game. The game looks ugly. PSX ugly. There’s not detail or design to anything in the game and all the colors are the kind you would see at a vomitorium. This is decidedly not a game you pick up for the graphics.

Really the only gimmick to the game is you smash up your car and your opponent’s in an attempt to win. Now I like smashing things as much as the next guy, but there’s not much to it. It doesn’t matter what part of my car gets hurt, the damage seems to appear visually on my car in the same way every single time. I got to the point where I knew when my hood would fly off. It was just so badly done instead of being fun, it took away from the game.

I’ll admit the first time I killed my driver and watched him fly out of my car and tumble across the road with a broken neck and arms I laughed a bit at the fact they included this, but again, it’s just a gimmick that really doesn’t add anything at all to the game play. Didn’t stop me from seeing how far I could fling the carcass from the smashed wreck several times in a row before getting bored with it though.

The music is awful as it’s something you would hear out of a bad 1970’s film making fun of the south. Remember the song “Big Bear” from “Super Troopers?” That is what every song sounds like in this game. And it’s irritating as hell.

Flatout features a 2 player split screen mode and it is also Xbox live capable for up to 8 players.

Right now I can’t recommend Flatout at all. The controls are nice, but in the end it’s an ugly bare bones game with awful music. Flatout should be a $19.99 budget title and with the current price listing at $49.99, there has to be much better demolition racing games on the market already.

Bugbear has two months to fix up the game and lower the price and here is hoping they do. The real litmus test of this game is to see how many yee haw inbred retarded podunks actually shill out fifty dollars for a game where the only thing truly interesting about it is that you can kill your driver in horrific crashes.