Not much we haven't seen before
|Time Played||1.5 hours|
|Game Progress||Halfway through Silver stage|
Anannya Sens Review
Another solid racing game from Xendex and Iplay
Xendex are quickly establishing themselves as developers of quality 3D racing games. In the past they have done the FMX series, Sherlock Holmes and Crash Car Mania which were all decent games. Flatout Racing 3D is no exception. It's essentially an off road game which follows the standard format. Finish in bronze or above to unlock more courses and cars.
The graphics are nice 3D polygons, although due to the fact that you'll be bunched up together from the start, there are some instances where the lines are a little blurred. There's no such problems if you get out in the lead, and while the courses are nice, some of the weather effects are spectacular. On one track, I went the wrong way and ended up on some hill, only to be blinded by the sun so I couldn't really see where I was going. Animation is nice, but could be a little smoother, as you do get the occassional slowdown.
Unfortunately the sound hasn't received the same attention. It would have been great to have some roaring off-road sounds, but instead you get a funky tune on loading and weird sounds during the game. In fact during the game, the only two sounds are when you finish a lap (and get a few notes) and when you use your turbos. I have to say that this is the weirdest turbo sound I've ever heard, it's kinda how I imagine a cow being strangled would sound. Controls are incredibly simple, use left and right to turn and 5 or the main button to use your turbos. That's it. There are no speed starts, speed turns or any other functions you have to worry about, as the developers have made it really simple.
The playability is pretty good. In most ways this is a fairly standard driving game, but that doesn't mean that it's not fun to play. The game physics engine isn't as complex as the FMX series, but each car that you use has a distinct weight to it. Which means if you take the heavy Camino over undulating off road hills, you will probably lose control a lot easier due to the clunkiness and turning circle. But, on the straights, with it's raw power you should cane the opposition. So you can see there are some tactical decisions to be made regarding which vehicle you race with.
Turbos are pretty useful in the game and are obtained by bumping people or hitting things. This is ok early on when the pack is bunched up, but a bit pointless once you're out in the lead. Still, it seems no matter how much damage the car takes, how much it's smoking or fire is coming out of it, the thing keeps going. I am still trying to completely wreck the car to see if I can, but it's just not happening. There's another aspect to the game, which you can read in the help section, that's about shortcuts on cornering. Now I've played the game for a little bit and I'm still not really sure what this means.
What the instructions say is essentially you can cut corners in some places but you have to learn where these are. Otherwise you will be directed back onto the track. So I went to start playing and thought I could cut across a whole swathe of an off-road area to get back onto the course and ahead of the others. But no, this is not allowed. When they said you should cut corners, they really meant only the corners. Which I was doing anwyay, as on tight or U turns, taking a racing line and going a little off road is standard fare for most driving games and their enthusiasts.
One slightly confusing aspect though, are the courses themselves. On each course there are loads of areas which aren't sectioned off, so you will be driving along and see a few options of where to go. This is where I thought I could find some secret shortcuts, but nope, these are sections of the track used in different courses. You can still venture onto these, but you'll be going the wrong way and be directed to go back from whence you came. So what you have to do is get familiar with the course and use the map as much as possible.
I do have a slight concern over lastability. The winning and unlocking is good, but there are no upgrades to be made. It's nice to have different cars to choose from, but the initial bronze level is pretty easy and silver isn't proving that much tougher either. At least there are 8 courses per stage and each one lasts about 5 minutes. I'm about halfway through the silver stage (with just gold left) and only really played just over an hour. I'm also at the point now where I'm not that concerned with getting gold in each course. Still, I am intending to complete it all, so it can't be all bad.
Overall an off road game that's fun to play and looks nice but ultimately doesn't offer anything new.