"Geez, not another crappy racing game!" These are the words that came out of my mouth when I was told to review Flashout 3D. Now these are the same words that I've set on my fancy, ceramic square plate. Next to the plate is some Merlot, a candle to wash some ambiance over the table, and a pretty little rose, resting in a glass vase. I've laid a napkin down on my lap and have rolled up my sleeves. And with that, I am now fully prepared to eat my words.
In my illustrious history as a self-professed ultra gamer, I'm sad to report that I've never really liked racing games. The most you could get me to play when it came to the genre were the Mario Kart games, Diddy Kong Racing, and maybe even a bit of Star Wars Episode 1: Racer. What did these games all have in common? To put it simply: I could blow my friends to high hell. I didn't care about finishing in 1st because I could always terrorize my friends with weapons. This was probably the number one reason I found myself so taken with Flashout 3D.
The game is a futuristic racer in which you pilot a small ship, almost like a personal speeder, that hovers above the ground. The tracks are long and winding, with a few jumps and hidden paths, boost pads strewn about every few feet or so, and bombs scattered around to test the nimble reflexes of would-be racers. Also lying around are little green boxes with question marks on them, ready to gift players with power-ups. And what can you do with those power-ups? DESTROY THE COMPETITION!
Sure, racing's cool and all, but no trip around the track in Flashout 3D is complete without using a machine gun or rockets to take out the other racers. 2nd place? No problem there! Just lock your guns onto the leader's tail and let your lead fury loose! Watch him explode and then usurp his position. With a few power-ups, it's just that easy. At least, this kind of thing holds true in the early stages of the game.
The more you advance, the burlier the competition gets. You'll have to master the timely uses of all the power-ups you get in order to stay ahead in the game. Some of these pick-ups have passive benefits, like repairing the damage to your ship or giving you a slight burst of acceleration. Others can be activated by touching the corresponding icon, like with weapons, manual speed boosts, and a handy Auto Pilot that takes control of your ship to navigate those tricky turns and corners.
Using all of these bonuses in tandem, coupled with the incredibly fast-paced racing action and the killer techno soundtrack, make for a very fun experience. And best of all is that the controls are solid and responsive, especially when it comes to navigation. You can opt for either of the floating thumbstick control schemes (there's one for either hand), or you can take advantage of the accelerometer and tilt your device to steer. I actually preferred the tilt controls, which was another shock because I usually gravitate toward virtual thumbsticks.
As bitter as my words were when they came out of my dumb mouth, the game proved to be infinitely sweeter. The only marks against the game are the existence of the cash shop that no one needed (you can make it through the game without spending one iota of real money), and sometimes the power-ups wouldn't activate when pressed.
Other than those very minor flaws, this $2 gem had me captivated. If you've got any interest in racing games at all, pick this one up. There are only seven unlockable game modes at the moment, but more are coming soon, so enjoy the frenetic action while you wait. Now if you'll excuse me, I've got some crow to eat.