ARTICLES | March 18th, 2007
Flatout Ultimate Carnage: Update

Empire Interactive have released today some brand new in-game screenshots from their eagerly anticipated Arcade Destruction Racer FlatOut Ultimate Carnage, releasing exclusively on the Xbox 360 video game and entertainment system from Microsoft, which highlight in stunning detail the level of technical and graphical expertise the developers, Bugbear Entertainment, are displaying in the next-generation debut of the FlatOut series.

The sequel to the multi-award winning FlatOut 2 which saw off a number of its higher profile rivals in various awards in 2005, FlatOut Ultimate Carnage now features 12 cars on track in each race up from the 8 vehicles in FlatOut 2, making proceedings much more competitive and far more destructive. In addition there are also five new single player game modes and two new online modes.

Upon initial viewing, the most noticeable aspect of the screenshots is the massive increase in texture resolution in every aspect of the game in comparison to the previous iterations of the series on Xbox. FlatOut Ultimate Carnage uses normal mapping on all surfaces seen in-game as evidenced by the cracks in the dirt tracks, by the pock marks and texture in the tarmac streets, and the overall 3D appearance across all the circuits. This aspect of FlatOut Ultimate Carnage stands out next to other driving games in which the surfaces the cars are driving on appear much flatter with little or no textures.

The following are the highlight of the brand new graphical and technical features which appear in FlatOut Ultimate Carnage.

Tthe phenomenal increase in the level of water rendering between FlatOut 2 on Xbox and FlatOut Ultimate Carnage on Xbox 360. The water areas in FlatOut Ultimate Carnage feature real-time, full-scene reflections including buildings, surrounding landscape, grass, trees, cars, dynamic objects with animated water ripple effects which consists of flat planes of triangles combined with complex mathematical algorithms on top to generate a realistic, surface ripple effect. These techniques along with diffracted sunlight give the surface water a ?wet? look.

HDR lighting is a processor-intensive means of simulating the vast range of luminescence perceptible to the human eye. Usually, this range is hopelessly reduced on conventional and flat screens, as illustrated from the FlatOut 2 screenshot at the top of the page, but HDR lighting allows a greater contrast in extreme conditions, letting the player pick out scenic details in very bright environments, such as searing sunshine as exemplified in the FlatOut Ultimate Carnage screenshot above, and very dark ones.

The level of shadow-mapping in the game, with shadows cast from the surrounding scenery falling dynamically across the surface of the car, track and ground level foliage. All vehicles and objects in the game are highly detailed and dynamic, with real-time shadows that accurately cast on their surroundings.

The improved level of Car Shaders in FlatOut Ultimate Carnage for 3D objects such as metal, glass, rubber and chrome is highlighted in the above screenshot. The unified pixel and vertex shader architecture gives the cars more realistic reflections, better lighting and shadows, richer and more varied colours. There are now four times as many polygons per car from the original FlatOut, 20,000 up from 5,000, which is the same number used in most rendered images. This is in-game! Headlights and wheel arches should now appear perfectly curved and not jaggy.

The addition of Parallax mapping in FlatOut Ultimate Carnage is illustrated perfectly in the above screenshot, showing the highly detailed skid marks on dirt tracks. This 2D effect simulates the 3D bumps and indentations of uneven surfaces. In FlatOut Ultimate Carnage these deep grooves remain throughout the entire race and are made by all the racing vehicles skidding and sliding through the dirt, mud and gravel.

FlatOut Ultimate Carnage is released exclusively on Xbox 360 at the end of June 2007.

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