FlatOut Preview

Since their creation in 2000, Finnish developer Bugbear has been focused solely on creating driving games with 2002’s Rally Trophy being one of their latest. Their upcoming title FlatOut seems like a simple derby racing game, but don’t let the concept fool you. There’s really some ideas here that not only make FlatOut interesting but unique as well. In particular, it’s the excellent damage and physics system that we’re interested in. So far as we can see FlatOut contains some of the most realistic collision detection we’ve ever seen in a racing game. It’s one of the main elements that really makes this title so appealing.

FlatOut’s damage system contains around 40 different parts that can be deformed on the car. Each part is accurately detailed and reacts realistically according to the environment. Some of these parts that can be damaged include the bumpers which can bend and completely come off, the roof can become indented many ways, the hood can bend and fly off revealing a detailed engine inside, the trunk lid can also bend and fly off revealing a nitrous oxide bottle, windows can explode, exhaust pipes can become loose and completely break off, and there are tons of different spots on the car that can be bent, damaged, or deformed in many ways. Thanks to the realistic collision detection system the car can easily become damaged depending on what you hit. For example, if you slide around a turn and the side of your car ends up smashing into a pole, then the exact spot on your car that hit the pole will be largely dented. Every crash just looks so excellent, and it doesn’t seem to ever get boring with there being so many different ways to cause some large-scale crashes.

Although all this great crashing is also due to FlatOut’s great ragdoll physics. Thanks to the game’s ragdoll physics basically everything within the game environment can be destroyed in some type of way. If you see some cones in the road they’ll simply bounce off your car when you drive through them. Tire walls can be plowed into, advertisements on the side of the tracks can be smashed into, fences can be busted, and all of this acts so realistically within the environment and how you crash into it. You can destroy just about anything in your path, and the developers made sure to put some unnecessary stuff on the tracks such as piles of wood, trucks blocking portions of the road, or other obstacles. Sure it’s not realistic, but it does add more of a challenge to the races. Plus it’s always fun to crash.

We’ve recently had the chance to try out a quick demo for FlatOut. The demo only contains two different race tracks and one stunt mini-game. The full game will actually include 16 different cars, a career mode, and 45 different tracks. The first track we tried was completely covered with dirt. This is where the derby side of the game really comes alive as it can be very hard to stay on the track, and we constantly found ourselves slamming into the sides of the other cars when going around the turns.

The next track was all pavement and was obviously much easier to race on. Although this track did provide us with more ways to demolish the items that were all around the track. We were taking out fences and other drivers left and right. For the most part the driving physics are spot-on, and the racing feels very fast-paced especially when you’re using your nitrous. Smashing into something while going so fast, or just simply getting too damaged by another racer, will cause your engine to catch on fire and the driver to get fired out of the windshield. It’s always funny to watch, but as far as we can tell having heavy damage doesn’t really affect your car’s performance. Just another sign that FlatOut is more of an arcade racer.

The next thing we got to try out was the stunt mini-game. These are basically small arena tracks with certain objectives. The one included in the demo had you driving off of a ramp, and you needed to fire your driver out of the windshield by using the turbo button. The higher your man soars the more points you’ll get. This is all determined by a tall tower that you basically fly through which measures how many meters you’ve flown up into the air. It’s sounds a little weird, but it’s just pure fun to watch. The full game will include many more stunt mini-games such as a bull’s-eye that your driver needs to hit.

The graphics are looking pretty topnotch right now, and the cars and damage alike look extremely detailed. It’s so detailed that you can actually see the cooling fan on the front of the engine spinning. The textures look very solid as does the entire environment as a whole.

Right now FlatOut looks to give us a unique racing experience with sheer silliness and carnage. We can’t wait to get our hands on the full version when it hits store shelves in July. So unfortunately you’re going to have to wait another month to see our full review to determine how well this new racer shapes up.


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Author: GamerNode Staff View all posts by

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