If there is one thing better than a good arcade racing game, it is a good arcade racing game with loads of crashes. When I was a youngin' with my PSX, I remember that despite all the awesome sports, action and fighting games, game sessions were never quite as fun as they were with the Destruction Derby series on hand. For some reason, despite the fact it is easily one of the most gaming friendly genres out there, crash happy arcade racers have really only recently made a come back in the gaming
world since those days, and a large part of that can be attributed to Empire Interactive's Flatout series. Finally, this hugely entertaining series has made its way onto the next gen scene with Flatout: Ultimate Carnage, which is an Xbox 360 exclusive, and while the game is not without its disappointments, it is still a must have for any fans of mindless yet ultra fun and enjoyable racing.
Like any good arcade racer, UC is all about pick up and play gameplay that is quick and easy to get into. As we've seen with the two previous Flatout titles, the main mode on offer in UC is the career based "Flatout Mode", where you buy cars and upgrades, and compete in preset track events under three categories - Derby, Race and Street. Even though this is the most in-depth mode in the game, it is still never more than a few moments away from action, so it is a very easy mode
to get into. However, it's not without its draw backs, of which two are quite evident - firstly, if you've ever played a previous Flatout, then you've already experienced the mechanics of this mode as it has barely changed in UC if at all, and secondly, repetition is a problem, particularly when it comes to the tracks, which are recycled ad nauseam, making it far more suited for short gaming sessions than long ones.
Luckily, "Flatout Mode" isn't the only major source of gameplay in UC, as there are a few other modes on offer as well. Naturally, this is an Xbox Live game
This mode is quite similar to the "Flatout Mode" in the sense placing on the podium in an event unlocks more events for you to do, but the differences are what make this mode probably the best in the game - first of all, there is much more variation from one event to the next, and secondly, you don't have to worry at all about currency for buying and upgrading your vehicles as each event has a preset car for you to use. This makes for very little hassle and maximum fun - basically, the ideal
mode to supplement UC's gameplay.
And what fun gameplay this is. If you've ever considered crash-n-bash arcade racers to be as enjoyable as I have, then you will absolutely love what Ultimate Carnage has to offer. This is really arcade racing as it was meant to be. Whether you're doing a traditional race, a destruction bowl, or any of the other events, you're going to be in for some extremely satisfying carnage as you smash your way through thousands of destructible objects laying about such as tyres, scaffolding and signs, and
obviously into other cars racing around as well. Even if you are trying to place first in a race, often it will be too hard to resist creating mayhem even if it means you have to restart from the beginning again, because the crashes and impacts are very often insanely awesome. The only event types which are pretty boring when it comes to the carnage are the solo time trial and "bombed" events, which requires you to reach check points in certain time frames otherwise you blow up (Speed: Flatout?).
Otherwise, this game really lives up to its name in every way.
Outside of races and destruction events with other cars, UC also features the much loved "stunt" events we all enjoyed in the previous two titles. For those not in the know, "stunt" events in Flatout are brilliantly crafted mini-games where you launch your driver into the air with full bone-crunching rag doll effects based on your car's forward momentum. This time around you can do a hell of a lot of great stunts, ranging from shooting your guy into basketball hoops
to carefully guiding him through rings of fire, with many more other sport and game inspired events in between. While some of these can be a lot easier than others, they are all based on timing and real physics, offering a fantastic way to burn some time by yourself or in a party environment. At the very least, they are always good for a few laughs and cringes as your poor driver wraps himself around every object in his path.