FlatOut Updated Hands-On

Bugbear's upcoming road racing game will at least have the decency to throw you clear of the wreck. Get the details here.

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The PC version of Empire's upcoming road racing game FlatOut was on hand at this year's Gen Con Indy show. The game was on public display at the Nvidia booth and featured single-player quick race and career modes, among others. The game includes dirt-track racing that, like on real-world dirt tracks, focuses on making it through turns without wiping out trackside obstacles. The game features a physics system that models crates and barrels that line the edges of a track and go flying if you run yourself off the road. It seems tempting to try to power through certain turns, but overdoing it even slightly will often cause you to wipe out, which can smash up your car and can also send you, the driver, tumbling out through the passenger door or through the windshield to flop around like a rag doll before coming to rest.

As it turns out, having a driver go flying out of the car figures heavily in FlatOut's minigames, which include such modes as long jump, high jump, and darts. Essentially, most of the minigames seem to be modified versions of simplified games of skill or track-and-field events. For instance, with long jump, you accelerate your car down a few ramps to get up to speed, then run your car right into a bump in the road, which sends your driver smashing through the windshield and hurtling across a metered sand pit, eventually coming to rest at a point where your landing distance is measured. Comparably, the darts minigame sends your car down a few ramps to pick up speed, then up one final ramp with a bump that sends your driver flying through the windshield upward at an angle toward a gigantic dartboard.

The game itself looks quite good and ran at a brisk 60 frames per second (though it was admittedly running on high-end hardware with a top-of-the-line 6800-series Nvidia graphics card). FlatOut seems like it will have fast-paced racing and some over-the-top physics. The game is scheduled for release on the PS2, the Xbox, and the PC later this year.

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