FlatOut 3: Chaos & Destruction review
When a game is released a week after its announcement, its never a good sign...
Flatout was one of those games that I found on GOG and decided to try. I didn't expect much, but there was a sale, and I picked the game up for $1.90. The instant I got into a race I knew that the game would be good. There was mayhem, car bits smashing everywhere, tires all over the road, explosions after colliding with barrels. The game was fun, and to this day the original Flatout is one of my favorite racing games.
So when I heard that there was going to be a Flatout 3 (Sequel to Flatout 2, which was also a great game,) I was excited. I waited the week until it came out, (I should've known something was up, they only announced the game a week before it was released!) and promptly bought the game off of Steam. Once it had finished downloading, I started the game up to see if it was a worthy successor to the game that I had loved.
The first thing I did was check out the graphics options. I have a fairly fast computer, so I maxed everything out. I headed into a race. There were several classes of cars to choose from, and one of the classes was Classic. The car looked decent, so I chose it. After a loading screen with an unmoving bar, I was in. From the start, I was shocked. I won't tell you the specifics of this race, I'll just break it down by category:
One of the best things about the previous Flatout games was the tight sense of physics. It wasn't quite a simulation, but it was realistic enough that you had to be careful not accidentally hit something solid and crash. It also had excellent car damage, and the cars dented and crunched realistically. With Flatout 3, all of this was thrown out of the window.
Cars in Flatout 3 handle like they do in those racing games at the arcade. When you're driving them, you don't really have a sense of control like you do in a real car. They feel way too fast, and also very light. They are also very difficult to control. The cars in Flatout 3 have all of these traits. They just don't have the tight sense of control that previous games had. Instead, they feel like someone modded the game files to make things more hectic. Honestly, it just feels bad.
If there was one thing that I thought Flatout 3 had going for it, it was it’s gamemodes. It has a varied lineup that looks like it could be fun to play, but still manages to fail. The modes are: Race, Stunt Man, Big Battle, Battle Arena, Monster Trucks, Speed, Nightshift, Offroad, and Challenge.
Race is the obvious one. Race around a track, and the first to complete the predetermined number of laps wins. Nightshift is actually identical to race, the only difference being that all of the courses are at night. Race mode lacks depth, but this can be forgiven seeing as there’s only so much you can do with a lap race. Even so, the mode really isn’t very good. I wouldn’t say it’s bad as it is, it’s just kinda boring.
Stunt Man is the classic minigame mode from the previous games. In it, you launch your driver through the windshield to accomplish various tasks. An example would be the high jump. You would drive down a long track until you reached a high net. You would hold down the nitro button to adjust the angle, then release to see how high your driver would be launched. It sounds horribly sadistic, but it really was quite fun in the previous Flatout games.
Not so in Flatout 3.
The reason for this is simple, and this is essentially the reason the game is so bad: The physics engine quite simply fails. You just can't launch your driver like you could in the previous games. It feels cheap, kinda like a bad iPhone game. The physics just don’t perform like they should in the situation. It ruins it.
The next two modes are Big Battle and Battle Arena. In these modes, 8-24 cars are thrown into an arena. A car wins by destroying all other cars in the arena. This is essentially the Derby mode from the older games. This mode sounds fun when I describe it (and it was in the last two games), but it’s terrible in Flatout 3. The reason for this is (once again) the incredibly poor physics engine. Cars fly around as if they were made of paper. A car trading paint with you does 50% damage to you, whereas a T-bone collision only does 20%. And don’t even get me started on the explosions. Unfortunately, this gamemode feels like a cheap knockoff of the established mode from the other games.
Monster Trucks is unique, and it is the highlight of the game. In this mode, your only cars are (guess what) monster trucks. You can then choose from five gamemodes. The first is Search and Destroy, which is a timed dash to destroy 40 barrels on the map. The second is Bring the Light, in which the goal is to bring 5 objects into a container. The next mode is Catch the Bus. In this mode, you have to knock over 5 double decker busses as fast as possible. The fourth is Royal Flush, where players roll a mine into the sewer. The final mode is Dude, Where’s My Car, which is similar to Search and destroy, only with car wrecks instead of barrels. These modes aren’t terrible to play like the other modes, and can actually be enjoyed. Unfortunately, this enjoyment is short lived, and it soon falls to the mundaneness of the rest of the game.
Speed attempts to play like a F1 racer. All of the cars are Formula 1 cars, and the tracks are similarly themed. However, this simply doesn’t work. The combination between Flatout 3 and F1 2012 is a match made in hell, and the mode fails horribly.
Offroad is kinda interesting: The goal is to get from Point A to Point B in as fast as possible. Playing the game reminds me of an old game called Fuel that I once had. The premise is interesting, but there’s so much junk everywhere on the track that its a nightmare to drive, especially with the physics engine that stubbornly refuses to go away.
The final mode is challenge. This basically sets up specific scenarios in the previous gamemodes with goals you have to complete. This could be something like a time trial, or a race where your goal is to deal a certain amount of damage or wreck x number of cars. It fails to impress, just like everything else in this game.
Sometimes graphics can warrant the purchase of a game. You may buy a game just to show off your computer, and that’s alright every once in awhile. This isn’t one of those games. The graphics are flatout terrible! (See what I did there!) The game just doesn’t look good. The cars always seem kind of squashed when you look at them, and they're low enough poly to be in a GameCube game. In fact, the entire game looks like a GameCube game. Here’s some examples to prove my point:
If the GameCube one were higher resolution, it would beat out Flatout 3 easily.
Er, no. Just no. This game has terrible sound. The main theme gets old and repetitive. Cars sound like RC cars. Collisions have no force in them. And just about everything else sound really bad. It doesn’t help that this game has no soundtrack, which means you’re stuck listening to crappy music that someone wrote in a day. Words can’t describe just how bad it sounds. It really is pathetic.
If you haven’t figured out by now, this game is terrible. Unfortunately for the studio that made this, the reason I feel it was so terrible was because of the Flatout label. Everyone who had played the original expected it to be the same. It just wasn’t. This game might have been decent it it wasn’t called Flatout 3, but because it was, it is terrible. There really wasn’t anything going for this game, and I’m truly sad to see how a previously excellent franchise fell flat.
Horribly dated graphics manage to look worse that Flatout 2.
Absolutely nothing good. Almost like they realized they needed sound a day before it was released.
Racing games should not be played on the keyboard. When a controller was used, cars randomly careened out of control.
Very little enjoyment in the game.
If you haven't played Flatout, don't play this game and tarnish your view of the series. Instead, play an older game. If you have, don't play this game. It will disappoint.