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After the success of Burnout 3, it seems that other companies want to follow up on the crash racing game market. Some of which come up with their own unique, if at times stupid, gimmicks that attempt to match Burnout's innovative crash modes.Empire's Flatout attempts to follow up on the Burnout craze, but this time it just doesn't work out.
While Burnout deals mainly in aggressive street racing, Flatout's racing arenas are more akin to rally racing. Tracks range from asphalt, to dirt, to anything in between. Strewn all along the tracks are various obstacles that can be wrecked into, earning additional money to that won during races.
With the money earned, either new parts or vehicles can be purchased.
But as mentioned, every extreme racing game has a gimmick, and in the case of Flatout, it involves throwing your driver out of the car. During the races, it is used mostly as a cheap attempt at humor, which after being seen over and over again, loses any flavor.
On a brighter note, the expelled driver can be used as part of minigames, such as a long jump competition, a high jump competition, or downright silly games such as bowling and darts.
But overall, the most fun minigame available is the demolition derby. As expected, eight cars fight it out in an arena to see who is the last man is standing. It is a fun little diversion that adds a little to the game.
On the bright side, the computer AI is quite challenging, and Flatout supports online gameplay (up to 8 racers on Xbox Live).
Visually the game is ok. While the cars are highly detailed, as are the environments, the frame rate is slow (running at about 30). Compared to the sheer brilliance of Burnout 3, this is a huge disappointment, but nowhere near as bad as the soundtrack.
The music is the usual mix of musicians that you have never heard of before. Even worse is on the Xbox, there is no option for customizable soundtracks.
In the end, Flatout is nowhere near the level that Burnout 3 has established. I am not saying the game is bad, but is never really rises above average in any area. And if it weren't for the minigames, then there wouldn't be any redeeming value available to distinguish it from any other racers. Having drivers ejected from their cars is not enough, and if Empire and Bugbear make another racing title, they should take that into consideration.
Flatout earns three out of five GiN Gems, for being an adequate if completely average racing game.
Todd Hargosh is GiN's Product Testing Manager. He enjoys any game that gets his adrenaline pumping. Todd can be contacted at : firstname.lastname@example.org.