If you're looking for a realistic racing simulator, then FlatOut: Ultimate Carnage definitely won't be for you. But if you're someone who wants to just scream through tracks while destroying your opponents and surroundings, chances are this game will deliver you a heap of enjoyment.
FlatOut: Ultimate Carnage is more of an arcade racer, one which does not focus too much on realism but on the fun side of racing. The cars in FlatOut handle fairly smoothly and don't become hard to control when you are off the track (you're also not spinning out when smashing through the littered roadside objects). Game modes include lapped races, the usual time-trial against the clock, and annihilating your opponents in a classic destruction derby.
The FlatOut career mode sees players having to complete a series of events in three different car classes. You start off with the Derby class, which is the toughest of the bunch, but not the quickest. Racing class cars are a bit more powerful, while Street class cars are the quickest of all (but are also the weakest). Regardless of class, all are equipped with Nitro which will be offered as a reward during races for either crashing into your opponents or course objects, or catching air time off jumps.
In FlatOut mode each class is split up into levels, with each level consisting of about six events. These events are either single races or a Cup. In the Cup you will be up against 11 other racers in a series of lapped courses. Each race and Cup won earns you credits which are used to buy new cars and upgrades. Earn yourself enough credits and you can upgrade your current car, or purchase a new one in a better class, which will allow you to compete in other events. Also those hard earned credits can also be put towards upgrades for your beast, which include everything from turbo kits to roll cages.
FlatOut: Ultimate Carnage's various courses run through six different environments. You could be racing through the city streets smashing through a shopping centre, or in the desert tearing through an old airplane scrap yard. The main idea behind it all is that you will be rewarded with Nitro boost for destroying your opponents and the course surroundings. All racers you are up against have distinct personalites -- some are more aggressive and will frustrate you by running you off the road, while others are more into the racing side of things.
But it's not all racing in FlatOut mode. There are also destruction derbies, where gamers are placed in an arena where the sole aim to pulverise their opponents. There are bonuses around the arena as well, such as extra armour for your vehicle.
After you are entertained enough with the Career mode you can always play the modes for fun in the Single Events or earn points and unlock other stages in Carnage Mode.
Carnage mode ultimately consists of all types of events. You can do the normal races or run a time-trial. In this type of time-trial you are racing through a series of checkpoints by yourself trying to stay ahead of the clock. The only difference is that if you don't make it to the checkpoint you will explode, that's why they called it Beat the Bomb.
The fun part of it all is definitely the included mini-games inside Stunt Mode. With a good selection to choose from, they consist of having to launch your driver out the windshield -- either down an enormous bowling lane to nail a strike, or trying to throw him as high as possible onto the high jump net. This mode is also available for up to eight-player group play on the one console, taking it one player at a time.
The visuals, while not anything spectacular, still look very good, particularly the course environments and the car destruction models. Bumpers, bonnets, windows, and the occasional exhaust pipe flinging off your vehicle in those big hits looks awesome -- even better is the five-car pile ups you might cause while gunning it through tight corners.
Overall, FlatOut: Ultimate Carnage is every bit enjoyable, and you don't need to be a racing enthusiast to be able to pick this game up and take on the track.