Bringing a console game – particularly a racing one – to the PC is generally a road fraught with problems. For one, people have a horrible habit of taking PC racing games terribly seriously, which is why the likes of Burnout refuse to come of their console playpen, yet the admittedly excellent Colin McRae series is always present and correct.
And then there’s the controls. For some reason, there’s usually some confusion in the translation across to the PC, and to a small extent Flatout Ultimate Carnage does slip up a little on this point.
Yet there’s little doubting that its arrival on the PC is like a welcome breath of fresh air. For the game’s title is very much an accurate one, as Flatout is a carnival of destruction, over-the-top racing and arcade action, the likes of which we see all too rarely on the PC.
That said, anyone who took Flatout 2 for a test drive will find that Ultimate Carnage is an enhanced version of that game, which throws any hint of subtlety out of the window in favour of brassy action and entertainment. It’s gleeful when it hits top gear, too, as you power through the races – across differing classes in career mode – while upgrading your motor as you go along.
Wisely, the emphasis in said races is on speed and destruction, filling the track with the results of your efforts. And while the courses may lack the cleverness of something like Burnout 3, they do just what they need to.
Also thrown into the mix is a series of minigames, which are a hoot to play, even if they are as shallow as they first appear. Flinging a driver out of a car towards a target may seem morally bankrupt, but Flatout’s cheeky wink is hard to resist. Furthermore, the game mode, where it’s all-out destruction, is quite brilliant, a throwback to the Psygnosis classic of old, Destruction Derby. This is what pure arcade entertainment should be about.
There are problems. Flatout Ultimate Carnage is still nowhere near a full sequel to Flatout 2, and it’s content to be very good at what it does rather than stretch for greatness. Plus, truth be told, it felt a little more comfortable to play on a games console.
Nonetheless, it’s a game that knows how to show you a good time, and doesn’t charge you too much for the privilege, once you put the powers of online shopping to the test. You might not be playing it in a few months’ time, but it’s hard to resist its cheeky charms while it lasts.
Company: Empire Interactive