Have You Played... FlatOut: Ultimate Carnage?
Destructive driving bliss
Have You Played? is an endless stream of game retrospectives. One a day, every day of the year, perhaps for all time.
FlatOut [Steam page] is one of my favourite games about cars wot go fast. It's like the twisted metal wreckage of a collision between Carmageddon, Burnout and Destruction Derby, and manages to succeed as a vehicular combat physics playground and a competitive racing game. Ultimate Carnage is the best version of this brilliant crash 'em up.
It might be ageing now, and due to be completely outdone by Wreckfest, the new game from developers Bugbear, but the way that cars deform as they crunch around the various tracks, and the number of movable and destructible objects that litter those tracks, is still mighty impressive.
What I love most about FlatOut is the handling though. In career mode, you're essentially plucking a car from a scrapheap and trying to keep it on piece race after race. And the cars feel heavy and sluggish and dangerous, but I always feel that I can get them to do what I want if I try hard enough. There's a sense of struggling with a hunk of machinery that really doesn't want to respond as it should and needs to be wrestled into submission.
Combine that with collisions that range from driver-ejecting write-offs to grinding, tactical nudges and shunts, and you have something very special indeed. There's none of Burnout's flashy cutscene-like crashes here - FlatOut's collisions are messier and less slick, and they don't interrupt the race; they're a fundamental part of the race.
There are all manner of silly events to take part in but the career mode alone has taken up days of my life. A classic.