Carnage is about to hit PSP screens with the release of FlatOut: Head On. It’s a game filled with plenty of speed and entertainment that will keep you going for hours on end. Primarily this is a racing game; however it mixes it up with some stunts, to liven things up a bit.
This is FlatOut’s debut on PSP, but prior editions had already wreaked havoc on console platforms. So is FlatOut: Head On just another money spinner or will it offer something new to the handheld?
The concept is relatively straight forward: race to win, complete various challenges, score points and/or money, then blow the cash away on bigger or faster cars, or look to pimp your current ride with some more grunt. Sounds simple, but the actual task can be somewhat difficult.
From the outset you have four modes to choose from: FlatOut, Carnage, Single Events and Multiplayer. Buried within these modes are various mini-games you can play, each having different outcomes. 'FlatOut' mode is your standard career mode whereby you work through a series of levels to become the FlatOut champion. The level starts out with derby cars where you race beat up old junk heaps, then it moves into 'Race' followed by 'Street' level. All levels have the same idea -- come first and the glory is yours. With your new found glory the money starts to flow and that opens up the choice of cars you can buy.
'Carnage' mode, as you would imagine, is a mode packed with explosive racing combining speed and, well, carnage. You have various challenges to pick from, such as 'Beat the Bomb' where you have to reach checkpoints before your car explodes into pieces, or 'Stunts' where you toss your driver around like a rag doll. Points scoring here is slightly different. Finishing higher increases your score, but bigger scores are gained if you ram your opponents off the track or rip into anything destructible.
'Single Events' mode is just a mix of 'Carnage' and 'FlatOut'. It combines both the modes but is played as a one off. So it can double as a training ground or somewhere you can go to play your favourite challenges.
'Multiplayer' mode is similar, but obviously the opponents are your mates. You can play single events or create a tournament and smash each other around until you have the last man standing.
Unfortunately, while there are a variety of modes available, each holding various challenges, across the board all of it seems much of a muchness. The races may be scored differently, but essentially the goal remains constant: race to win and blow away anything in your path to score more. It gets a little repetitive and it’s similar to what we saw in the Burnout series, although FlatOut seems a little more destructive and offers more point scoring opportunities.
What does make this game more enjoyable are its 'Stunt' challenges. These are built into the various modes and turn your driver into a crash test dummy. The stunts vary from ski jump -- where your car careers down a steep slope to launch the driver through the windscreen sending him/her a far as possible -- to bowling, where the driver is used as a bowling ball.
These challenges are probably one of the better parts of the game, but require skill to get through successfully. Some seem near impossible to achieve, as although the control system is basic, you have to be pretty spot on with timing and accuracy.
It does get a bit frustrating, but then again you can easily slot back into racing and start taking your frustration out on everyone else and your surroundings. This is probably what makes this game worth playing.
So to answer the original question, is FlatOut: Head On just another money spinner? Probably, but nevertheless it does bring something new to the PSP.