FlatOut: Ultimate Carnage Review for PC

On: PCXbox 360
Ultimate Carnage is one of the most thrilling racers available for PC
Ultimate Carnage is one of the most thrilling racers available for PC

Ultimate Carnage is one of the most thrilling racers available for PC

FlatOut: Ultimate Carnage isn't a clever game. It doesn't try to wow you with layers of meaning and plot; it doesn't feature visuals and sound that will have everyone declaring that video games should be treated as art; and it doesn't feature motion capture work from A-list celebrities. BugBear's latest arcade racer is simply a thrilling joyride of a game, complete with stunning visuals and plenty of game modes to get stuck into.

There's not a whole lot to say about Ultimate Carnage other than it's damn good fun, but it deserves to have more said about it than that. Although you'd be forgiven for thinking that this is a brand-new title, it is largely the same as the multi-format release FlatOut 2 - albeit with numerous enhancements. The core to the game is the Career mode, in which you have three classes to work through, each containing numerous Cups and voluntary events. Finish third or above in a Cup and you'll open up further events and earn money, while the voluntary events are useful for earning extra cash if you're short a few hundred for that new car you're after.

Money can be used to upgrade your vehicle or to buy new vehicles, either for use in the current class of races or for a harder class that you fancy having a crack at. There's not a huge amount of depth to the upgrade system, with each new component (of a limited set) simply improving your vehicle's stats in a number of key areas. Ultimate Carnage is about as arcadey as an arcade racer can be these days, so don't expect any fine-tuning options or any other advanced under the hood tweaking. For a game like this that's exactly how it should be.

Racing itself resembles the kind of arcade fun we used to get from classic arcade racers from the 32 Bit era, but it's not all Ultimate Carnage has to offer. The included mini-game-like events and destruction derbies in the Carnage Arcade Mode are another kettle of fish entirely. The derbies are adrenaline-filled affairs, rarely short on carnage, but the mini-games provide something a little unique and are what you may well come back to time and time again, even after the main Career and Carnage modes are done and dusted.

'Whether playing alone for a high score or against friends, the multitude of games on offer can't fail to entertain.'

Whether playing alone for a high score or against friends, the multitude of games on offer can't fail to entertain. They revolve around the mechanic of propelling a poor racing driver from his seat whilst driving at high speed. As you can imagine, this opens up a number of game situations, and developer BugBear hasn't disappointed. You might get the most thrills from the simple high jump, but then again you might prefer to score baskets with your hapless driver in the insanely cruel Basketball mini-game.

To be ultra critical, some of the mini-games aren't up to much, but the vast majority are simply too violent and cruel to be anything other than fun. If you can't get a sick sense of joy from using a man as a stone in a stone skimming competition, making him convulse as he bounces off the water's surface, what kind of mentally deranged person are you? Having said that, there isn't really any malice in the game, with everything seeming perfectly friendly and well away from the headline grabbers the industry churns out on a regular basis. Sure, the odd rough landing might make you wince a little, but it's all part of the fun.

Multiplayer races via split-screen are sadly absent, but you can take part in mini-game party events, with each player taking turns at a pre-set or customised set of games. You also get online play for up to eight players via the Games For Windows LIVE service, with each of the event types from the single-player game being customisable. A couple of unique modes have also been included for online play only, such as the riotous Head-on races, which force players to turn 180 degrees after one lap, resulting in plenty of head-on collisions.

On a high-end PC Ultimate Carnage looks brilliant

On a high-end PC Ultimate Carnage looks brilliant

Playing the stunt event mini-games online in FlatOut 2 was a little disappointing as players had to wait their turn, which made each round take a while and lessened the enjoyment somewhat. A system similar to that seen in Burnout Revenge has been implemented this time around, so players all take part at the same time, with ghosts of other drivers being seen on the screen.

Ultimate Carnage's visuals and rock soundtrack reflect the overall rough and ready feeling you get while playing. While fans of FlatOut 2 will see familiar locations, the next-gen makeover is very impressive indeed. Compared to FlatOut 2 the damage modelling is improved, and the vehicles all look far more solid and detailed. Dirt and scratches now appear realistically over the course of each race, and cars per race has been increased from eight to twelve. On PC you'll need a decent spec system to get the game running at its max, but if you've got the hardware Ultimate Carnage is one of the best looking PC racers on the market.

The courses, too, don't remain intact for long, with hundreds of objects being bashed all over the place. At times the track will be completely covered by trackside items that have spilled, such as tyres that had previously formed a nice crash barrier. The improvement here over FlatOut 2 is noticeable, with items even becoming stuck temporarily on your vehicle. At one point another driver spun violently, only to land on my car's roof. Unrealistic? Yes. Fun? What do you think? Lighting is also far improved, with the expected next-gen subtlety, while textures and environment detail are leagues ahead of the previous game.

The mini-games are great fun

The mini-games are great fun

Complaints are few and far between, but it has to be said that Ultimate Carnage is pretty damn tough for an arcade racer. Your car has a tendency to spin and face the wrong direction a little too often, which causes frequent headaches. Coming down from large jumps is also problematic, with your car pretty much guaranteed to spin unless you land fully straight on. Thankfully the game remains fun and a good selection of achievements are on hand to keep things interesting - something few PC games include.

FlatOut: Ultimate Carnage for PC arrives during a relatively quiet release window and as such should find a considerable audience. The single-player Career won't take all that long to complete, but with a hugely entertaining multiplayer mode both on and offline, there's a good chance you'll continue playing for a while after. It's bound to get old eventually, but FlatOut fans looking for more of the same but with stunning next-gen visuals will find exactly that.

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User Comments

aselenizator's Avatar

aselenizator

also the lan (wich is missing)is a problem
Posted 12:02 on 21 February 2009
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aselenizator

what do you want? this is a good game. its true that it is exactly flatout 2 just it has better graphics.a lot better.what u will like beside flatout?burnout?maybe.but lets wait an see the next flatout series.maybe that will be how u want.its true that i also don't like a couple of things at it.like the career mode.
Posted 12:00 on 21 February 2009
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Jason

They completely lost my support for this game. I will never ever play it anymore, never buy from them again. Excluding LAN because of pirates at the extreme sacrafice of the once loyal fans. Say good buy to your fans "bugbear". Everyone watch as the company destroys itself from mistrust - horrible. Add a patch to add LAN back into this game please. Easy to do - yet not likely!
Posted 23:09 on 21 October 2008
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Xcalibur

Agree with everything posted here - especially the lack of LAN support - LAME! They have made the same mistake that NFS made with carbon and pro street initially. LAN support is essential you twits - making people use the internet is not a valid means of piracy control as it hurts the people that actually buy it
Posted 15:49 on 06 October 2008
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OG FlatoutFan

A racing game with no LAN support. This has killed the Flatout franchise for me. Im big into lan parties in the fall and spring. I purchased and installed 2 copies without even suspecting that such a common feature (Local area network gaming)would be sold out in order to accommodate Window$ Live. Lesson learned. Ill be happy with FO2 for a while but no LAN support = no future purchase for any racing game no matter how "fun". Goodbye future Flatout releases. It could have been awesome.
Posted 20:31 on 26 September 2008
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Gamer

Some of these comments seem to me a bit unfair. This game has in my opinion the first AI in racing games that feel like actual human players. Computer players race their own race, human player is not the center piece. Computer players play dirty tricks, but they do them also to other computer players. And you can always do counter actions, for example brake, accelerate and crash the driver who cut in. There is also no signifigant rubber band effect, therefore if someone gets a good lead, he propably finishes first. But if the human player drives third, the two computer players usually battle fiercely so you might finish first after all. Anyway compared to Grand Theft Auto IV PS3 online multiplayer racing, FlatOut Ultimate Carnage computer players feel more like your buddies than GTA IV online human players! In FlatOut you have a chance, against GTA hardcore teenage gamers you don't.

I play this game in 1080P with 46" screen and a year old enthusiast PC. Visuals are stunning. Even better than Gran Turismo 5 Prologue. It just amazes me how much stuff there is flying in the air sometimes.

For me this game was a little hard at first when played with keyboard. Then I got the xbox 360 wireless controller for windows and after that a great game got even better.
Posted 06:55 on 23 September 2008
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Jen

I Fully agree. all the AI is doing is pushing you harder. If you can beat them then your better than before. Entertainment and Satisfaction. I don't know about y'all but when i finished the lot on top i was as satisfied as a mullet at a truckers convention.
Just have fun and do your best. You don't have to be the best!
Posted 09:12 on 21 September 2008
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Phry

I believe personally, that nobody should whine so much about a game, sure there are its ups and downs, there is in every game, but it took someone a lot of time to create this. when you whine about a game so much you seem like a baby. a game is a game and it is not meant to be life or death, just moderate entertainment, so just have fun-or dont play at all.
Posted 22:25 on 14 September 2008
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Dredge

So after playing this game for a bit, after all of my gripes, the more I see the competitors and their names, I'm noticing similarities, uncanny even...
Add to this if you can think of more. IMDB.com any of the names you're not aware of for a visual. A majority of these are visual comparisons:

Jack Benton = Jude Law
Jill Richards = Melinda Clarke
Sofia Martinez = Jennifer Lopez
Paul Jackson = Paul Walker [w. the near Vin Diesel haircut]
Ray Carter = Gary Dourdan
Sally Taylor = Britney Spears
Katie Jackson = Kate Jackson [as in Charlie's Angels]
Lei Bing = reworked name, from Bai Ling?
Posted 19:56 on 31 August 2008
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JimmyJump

Well, Bones, when an A.I. is crooked, it's crooked, no matter what you may call complaining about it... And no-one said anything about not being able to win a race dudelicious... I've also finished every race on top in every dicipline, but, like I said, the further you move ahead in the game, the more "dirty tricks" the A.I. plays you.
To me, I don't care too much how a game looks (the nicer, the better, of course) or how the gameplay is,as long there's a reasonable amount of fairness involved. I like to be treated in a normal fashion, by people, and certainly by the A.I. of a game.
A lot of developers use foul play and mask it as levels of difficulty... Not only is that unfair towards decent folk who invest their money in a game ro have some fun, it is also mean and low.
Next time Empire Interactive releases a game in the same vein as FlatOut, I'm gonna download it first, to check out if it's worth spending my hard-earned cash on...
Have fun, Bonesy

JJ
Posted 20:33 on 21 August 2008
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Bones1138

Just finished everything in Flatout Ultimate Carnage, the careers, Carnage Mode and the stunts. All Gold. People... stop nagging. This game is FUN. The fact that it's a flat out port (pun intended)..well, that was known months before it came out. The gameplay HAS improved, the cars DO drive sleeker and everything looks gorgeous. And in my opinion, if u can't win a race for whatever reason, you're just not good enough. See you online. I dare you. My gamertag is Steve McDee.
Posted 18:04 on 21 August 2008
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jolmy

y cant anyone make a realistic car game, but with flatout style or something?

and as most of the others, crap this game where, rip off, how can people make a game go from good til CRAP!!?
Posted 21:11 on 15 August 2008
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JimmyJump

@Dredge: I hear you my man... But you have forgotten a few things...

13] The further you move up in ranks (especially with the 'Street' races), the more silly your car behaves. Getting swept off the road by debris so small you don't even notice. The jerks who made this game go as far as to let the car get steerless, moving eiither to the right or left of the road, depending on where you can get off-track the quickest. This 'Steerless Car' issue also only happens when you're a threat (with a lesser car, like the 'Chernobyl') to racers like Benton or Walker.When adventuring steerlessly into the surroundings (funny enough always in spots where you get stuck), the A.I. resets the car immediately, but nevertheless, you always lose at least 2 to 3 places. All this scheiss happens just to force you to buy a "better" car.

14] The last round in any given race, is also where the A.I. spreads its evil magic. Spots and corners you before took with the ease of an experienced Formula-1 pilot, suddenly become tricky, or the car simply refuses to turn.

15] Electrical wiring, spanning the roads in the rural scenery, or lying about in the city, make your car crash in a most spectacular fashion, or let the car sail through the in a helicptor's rotor fashion. And yes, I wrote "ELECTRICAL WIRING"...

16] Whatever object you hit when taking a curve, you always kick-out to the side where you are most certain to get off the track. In going off, the cat refuses to steer back in the general direction of the circuit, mostly ending your journey with the nose of the car square against an immovable object... Even when you are taking a left and you hit a car to your right, the car jumps up and to... the right. Go figure.

17] Almost all corners and curves, have a pre-designed path when missing said corner or curve, garanteeing you end your trail against the nearest tree.

18] Hitting a fence at an angle of over 45 degrees, garantees your car to end-up with the front flat against that fence.

19] Oil patches on the track make the car lose control, but funny enough also slow it down measurably...

20] Computer steered vehicles sometimes overtake you with boggling speeds, in short streets where there's not enough distance to gather such speed. Also, some cars make swirving movements and take corners when airborn.

21] Sometimes, when you have the lap record (and I assure you I triple-checked the stats at the end of the race), someone alse gets the cash. So far (after some 124 races) I had this 13 times. Amounting to around 13000 credits that I otherwise could have put to very good use.

22] As so often happens in these kind of race-games, the computer steered cars seem to be driving on rails, while your own car seems to glide on ice. Witness the many tunnels and curves where you immediately are squashed against the side, due to a supposedly present centrifugal force, except for the A.I. propelled vehicles, of course.

To conclude, this game is another fine example of the makers confusing "level of difficulty" and "gameplay", with "harassing the human player" and "what can we invent more to make the human player throw his/her PC out of the window in sheer frustration"...

FlatOut: Ultimate Carnage is a serious contender to nick first prize in the "Most Unfair Game Of The Century" from that other player-degrading racer "Juiced". In fact, I wouldn't be surprised that the makers of FlatOut: Ultimate Carnage, either got their mustard from Juiced, or worked on that game also.

It's a real pity, because these kind of games could be fun, especially since they sport great graphics and have great-looking scenery and cars. Just a shame that these games are made by kids. Skillfull ones, but still just kids. Time to grow-up, toddlers...

JJ
Posted 19:19 on 15 August 2008
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Niros

An incredibly lazy port. The only thing the developers seem to have done is chosen the PC button in the compile menu with very few changes, there is no love for the platform.
Posted 12:35 on 11 August 2008
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Dredge

This game was utter garbage, it should've been titled "FlatOut Unfair".
1] Try to imitate a rub or push that the AI [always] successfully pulls off and you'll find yourself failing.
2] The reset option works when it wants to. You're in the middle of a spectacular air display, a pack of racers blow by you, you're still frantically jamming the reset button until it finally does what it's supposed to do. Good luck catching up. FYI: the NFS series reset option works ON DEMAND, not when it feels like it. While it's true that some gamers have made comments about accidentally hitting the reset while playing NFS and they were in the lead causing them to LOSE that lead, it's still the fact that it works AS INTENDED.
3] You could have the SAME EXACT car as someone else, top of the line upgrades and yet they're still faster than you are. Watch their tail-pipes, even when they don't use their NOS, they scream ahead leaving you behind.
4] Regardless of how you finish in the previous race, it doesn't carry over into the next race in the series. You ALWAYS start in 12th and after the 3 second countdown expect the other 11 to blow off the starting line and leave you 20 yards behind.
5] You can't mix class/series, ie: Derby races need a Derby vehicle and so on and so forth. In the Race series, one of the opponents has a Street vehicle for the entire outing.....does that seem a bit "suspect"?
6] No side-by-side comparison of vehicles in the purchasing shop. I have several pieces of paper with "before modification stats" and "after...." for when I purchase a new vehicle.
7] The AI can pull off some impossible grips and turns, especially in vehicles that have poor handling, regardless of weight.
8] An opponent vehicle breaks through a barrier wall right before a ramp launch and lands perfectly square-on-all-4, you're behind them and make contact with one small random piece of wood or CARDBOARD BOX and you get sent into a somersault. Which carries over into the next complaint: the AI is unaffected [almost 99% of the time] by destructible objects and scenery. They maintain the same speed and heading, but all of that affects YOUR speed and motion if YOU make contact.
9] If you or another opponent succeed in getting a racer to wipe out, crash, etc, thereby causing them to have to reset or pushing them further back on the current race's leaderboard, THEIR reset works IMMEDIATELY. You'll see their map icon spinning for a brief second but then it's straight, on the track and a few yards back from where they crashed and then to top it all off they're able to catch up as if they were a "ghost racer" with a quickness.
10] If you're trailing someone and they get a lead that causes their icon to leave the map altogether [because they're so far ahead], your chances of catching up to within 10 feet of them are 0.0000001%. You spend the remaining time hoping they crash but it never happens.
11] The soundtrack get's repetitive and annoying the 93rd time around, especially when one song only plays for 10 seconds or less as you navigate through the games various menus.
12] The control customization is flawed, immensely. You can't reconfigure the default "Escape" key function [Menu], so if you use a game controller like myself, you're forced to venture back to the keyboard's Escape key to either retry the race, leave the race, etc. The in-game menus do not have an "up" and "down" movement that can be mapped to the direction or digital pad. Because it's a 360 port, they expect everyone to use the top right trigger for Acceleration. I use a Logitech Rumble USB: 2 digital sticks [which when pushed down act as buttons as well], 1 analog, 2 left triggers, 2 right triggers, 4 face buttons in a N/S/E/W layout and 2 button that gamers would refer to as the "Select" and "Start" buttons. In saying all of that, I use "4" for accelerate, "2" for reverse, "1" for Nitro and "3" for the remaining brake. I'm forced to use the "1" and "3" buttons to navigate up or down in menus, but the directional pad works as intended for left and right movements.


All in all, I'm passing on the remainder of this title and any future releases bearing the FlatOut name.
Posted 19:36 on 10 August 2008

Game Stats

FlatOut: Ultimate Carnage
8
Out of 10
FlatOut: Ultimate Carnage
  • Superb visuals
  • Thrilling racing
  • Lots of content from FlatOut 2
  • Can be punishingly hard
Agree? Disagree? Get Involved!
Release Date: 01/08/2008
Platforms: PC , Xbox 360
Developer: Bugbear Entertainment
Publisher: Empire Interactive
Genre: Racing
No. Players: 1-8
Rating: PEGI 12+
Site Rank: 392 3
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