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| FlatOut Demo: Reviewed (Add a comment )|
by: lunatik (2) | Posted in cluster FiringSquad Editors Challenge Round 1 Prelim 1
Posted 76 months ago ( edited 76 months ago ) in category DEFAULT
People love destruction. We don't necessarily love mean-spirited destruction, but there's a reason (besides caution) why people slow down around car accidents. Blowing things up, smashing things, it's been a staple of computer games since their inception. From exploding barrels in Doom, to Red Faction's deformable terrain, this destructive impulse is something game designers have always tried to harness and capitulate to. And us destructive gamers, we like it. Who hasn't watched a lap or two of a NASCAR race in hopes that there would be a nice pile-up? Now if these things appeal to you, then the idea of a race/destruction derby likely appeals to you. It takes the magic of a computer game to make this otherwise irresponsible, dangerous, ultimately implausible idea a "reality". I hereby introduce FlatOut... the demo. It is my intent to review this mother.
|» MEDIA (5)|
This is the breathing essence of this game...
The particle effects remind me of a lame fireworks display, but it's enthralling to be so self destructive. Oh, and the game compensates you after each crash with the ability to speedily smash yourself again.
For the suicidally minded, there's a dirt-rally track. Don't be misled by the colour of the track: the developers went for a "Teflon and K-Y Jelly" feel.
The game turns into this regularly. Learn to love it or leave it.
Haha, the review is over, get it? Aww and his leg is sticking out. Poor, floppy, raggedy bugger.
So you're wondering, "Why is anyone going to review a demo?" Well I am somewhat of a wise person (hah!), and have read enough reviews in my life to disagree with at least a few. This review is intended to epitomize what gaming (and all life) is about: personal choice; another important aspect of life (and gaming) is freedom. I think if I review a demo that doesn't mean I'm a necessarily a poor student but rather I am extending to you the possibility to play exactly what I've played, and to disagree with what I say. You're completely free to get the game I reviewed. I heartily encourage it. You can probably download the sequel to this demo if you really want.
Perhaps most importantly, it makes this an incredibly accessible review. You can download Steam (for free), and then download and play this demo (for free) and either see that what I wrote was on the mark or amounting to an insane ramble. You can compare your experience to mine. For free: here's a demo of a review(?). I know there are gamers out there who have quad SLI rigs cooled with imported spring water, and if they saw this review they'd scoff at me. If they saw how when the game replays a race my framerate occasionally drops they'd probably laugh at me.
Another question you're probably asking, if you haven't already disregarded this review as an outright prank, is "why review a demo of a game that's two years old?" Well... Personal choice, I guess. The truth is I downloaded this game two nights ago and haven't been able to drop it and forget about it. It pisses me off, it drives me insane, but I think it's ridiculous as well as fun. Due to those things and the fact I wanted to participate in the review contest, here's my review:
So, now that you know what the deal is, I'll get to the review proper. FlatOut is a racing game, pure and simple. Its developer, Bugbear Entertainment, decided to go a novel new route with the racing genre. It appears to the player that they were pursuing psuedo-realism and outright destruction in a graphically competent, crazy action, hi-octane type of racer. These lofty goals sound good on paper, but how are they delivered?
The premise of the game is simple: win the race. However, Bugbear did spice this age-old goal up, a variety of elements add depth to this basic racing title. The usual "Nitro" boost powerup is available, but earning it is where your creativity comes in: you have to be destructive to earn the predictable boost-juice. You can smash cars or go after scenery. Ram into parked trucks, topple signs, take out stretches of picket fence: it's up to you. Just don't be surprised when your driver is creamed as a result.
The last racing game I've played this dedicated to destruction was Carmageddon 2, and this game is by no means even half as good as it (in the future I will try not to be so partisan). However, this game leaves Carma 2 in the dust with regards to the trimmings. The graphics, while not eye-popping, are very crisp and clear. The damage your car sustains is conveyed very well -- by the end of a good race your car will be a battered, smoking wreck. The tracks look good, too, if a little sterile. Physics are another factor in this game that are exploited to full effect. In more or less traditional racing games, you hit the wall, bounce off with no damage, and it only slows you down a bit. In this game when you a hit a wall, the driver flies out and if he lands on the track usually a few of your opponents will do their best to turn him into roadkill. It's immensely enjoyable to completely screw an opponent by sending him through a fence, into a wall... a great way to get ahead (and an instant loss if you get carried away) The physics make for spectacular crashes, as everything will bounce and fly around convincingly after you've barreled through it.
While it's great to see your car scatter across the road realistically, the matter of controlling the car itself is not quite so great. While playing this game you'll learn to quasi-drift through every turn, and I mean every turn. Simply turning the car makes you wonder if its wheels are made of banana-peel rubber. You slide, all over the track, and it's not realistic. However, surviving spectacular wrecks isn't realistic either. Tit for tat.
My final problem with the physics is that they're finnicky. You can take out a stack of barrels no problem, but if you drive over the remains of a (likely angry) sponsor's billboard, your car has a fifty-fifty chance of going buck wild and ending up on its roof. In the world of FlatOut you learn to take insane, high-speed risks casually, while warily eyeing something so base and simple as driving over wood.
Another not-so-great thing is the sound. Well, the soundtrack. The Demo has 2 songs it plays while you drive, and you'll be sick of both of them before finishing your first race. Otherwise, the sound effects are passable but nothing extraordinary.
These minor complaints aside, playing the game is a thrill. You'll smash into opponents and destroy their cars, you'll wreck your own ride, you'll fly right through your windshield -- all in the first lap. It's a lot of fun when you look past the pitfalls (like the fact it's only a demo) and it's a great way to spend 15 minutes.
So, in conclusion, here's a free game that's generally well executed with some faults and is an enjoyable way to kill time. It's not Gran Turismo, it's not even Grand Theft Auto, but it's cheap, action-packed, and accessible. Best of all, no amount of damage you take will finish your car off -- you're completely free to crash, boost, crash, boost, ad absurdum.
Variety: FlatOut is respectably varied, there are a bunch of modes of gameplay and in the full version there's multiplayer, extra cars to buy, all kinds of wonderful things I haven't even considered. Even in the Demo you get two different tracks and a "High Jump" track that caters to the unique physics FlatOut employs.
Sound: There's no reason to buy a 6.1 set-up and a sweet card, but the cars growl and tires screech properly. Sure when your character ejaculates through the windshield and hits a tree his scream is anything if not utterly ridiculous, but it adds to the character a little of the game.
Graphics: Crisp and clean. There's lense flares, downright good damage effects, and it is pleasing enough to the eye with no chance whatsoever of pushing your equipment to the limit (that is, if you've bought it within the last three or four years).
Gameplay: As stated before, it's varied and has its shares of highs and lows. The computer opponents can be diabolical and are anything if not stupid. Car handling is practically a nonentity, but ramming one of those dastardly opponents into a stack of tires, hitting nitro and flying into the lead and rejoicing, only to careen against a wall and lose yourself among the trees can be incredibly amusing. It's also a bit frustrating when the bipolar physics engine decides that hitting a twig justifies sending your car into a death roll.
Money's Worth: Yes, obviously. It's free. No harm in giving it a whirl (Steam is the future, and despite early complaints I've never had a serious problem with it) Plus, when you download Steam, you occasionally get the chance to full games for free.
Enjoyment Factor: Odds are good. Give it some time to grow on you, though. At first the slip 'n slide driving physics will make puritans want to clean their hard drive of this cartoony filth, but, like bad club music after a few drinks, you eventually get into the rhythm enough to dance. And, just like a club, there's no reason to be serious -- have a good, shallow time and you're golden.
I recommend: If nothing else, play the "Fairgrass Cup" track a few times and smash things about to get a feel for the game. You may as well turn off the in-game music, too -- just leave a media player with your favourite tunes open while you play.
»Bottom Line: It's an odd mix of ditzy and brainy design elements; reckless, ruinous racing; pure gleeful destruction and rally racing. This game's unique experience is a perverse first and only incidence of a destructive dichotomy: the ageless question of knowing when to stop, or how far to proceed.
PS: Sorry for posting this in the Video challenge first. That was foolish and should teach me for doing things late at night.
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