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FlatOut 2 Review

GAME INFO
publisher: Vivendi Games
developer: Bugbear Entertainment
genre: Racing

MINIMUM REQUIREMENTS
PIV 2000, 256MB RAM, 3.5GB HDD, 64MB video card
ESRB rating: T
homepage:
www.flatoutgame.com/

release date: Aug 01, 06
» All About FlatOut 2 on ActionTrip


The racing genre has really come a long way. Why do I say that? Well, unlike some other genres, classic racing (one that is not deeply rooted in some fantasy or sci-fi setting) is fairly limited in terms of creative input that the developers can provide. It's much more technology-dependant, which happens to be a good thing for the genre. To get the most thrilling racing game you need development skill, yes, but you also need great tech, and this is something that FlatOut 2 has in abundance.

Impressions can be deceiving for the less tech-savvy of us, but from a gamer's standpoint, FlatOut 2 appears to be the most technically advanced arcade racer on the market. Taking car and environment destruction to new heights, the game offers incredibly spectacular car crashes and a car damage model that is second to none - at least visually speaking. The physics seemed tweaked and tuned to purr as the 4-wheeled beasts on the road - far from realistic mind you, but that's the whole point of arcade racers - driving cars, crashing them into other cars and just crushing objects in your path like a bulldozer is immensely fun in FlatOut 2. It's exaggerated, yes, but it also feels natural. The developers have done a marvelous job of improving this aspect of the game over the original.

Add to this the selection of music tracks, (featuring bands like Audioslave, Nickleback and others), the famous nitro boost, and two billion sparks per scene, and you get the type of racing experience that's even more exhilarating than the Need for Speed Underground series.

Everything in FlatOut 2 is designed with the sole purpose of looking spectacular. Hitting nitro while skidding into a sharp turn in a trailer park can produce some exciting results and it's these moments, plus the absolute car mayhem (you can totally wreck other cars with the option now to actually kill or hurt other drivers), that make FlatOut 2 racing so utterly engaging. Rarely do I get that dazed, teary-eyed look in my eyes when playing a racing game - but I do when I play FlatOut 2.

The engine works brilliantly on mid-range rigs, and you just get the feeling that the devs spent a lot of time trying to get maximum power out of the 3D code - which they did with excellent results. The AI is sufficiently challenging, although, in later stages of the game, when you buy really good cars and upgrade them, getting poll position won't be that much of a problem.

In connection to finishing races in the top spot, FlatOut 2 features some amazingly addictive mini games that are unlocked by completing racing stages in the career mode. Like a high jump game where you get to launch the driver out of the car as high as possible into the air, or a bowling game - the driver *is* the bowling ball so to speak. These mini games are excellently designed, first and foremost, and it does take some skill and luck to master them, due to all the physics calculations that come into play. I had a blast with them and they provided a very fun break from the classic modes of play.

These classic racing modes include Derby, Race, and Street. Their names are pretty self-explanatory; each is designed to provide a different racing experience. This, unfortunately, is only true on paper, as all of them seem really, really similar. Not only that, but the tracks feel very repetitive after a while. The racing itself is still a great experience, but the modes of play just don't provide enough variety to keep the players interested in pursuing their racing career after a certain point. The biggest draw for me was the unlocking of the last-car-standing and stunt derby events, but that didn't alleviate the fact that the racing cups felt too similar to each - both in terms of the approach to driving and the tracks. The game follows a pretty linear progression of acquiring more credits to buy better and more powerful cars, as well as unlock new events, so after a while, when most of the stuff was unlocked, I kind of felt I spent enough time with FlatOut 2. To be fair, I generally feel like that about racing games, but I do also remember that each of the Underground games kept me hooked a while longer than FlatOut 2 did.

Is the game worth your money? I would say, yes, but only if you think you're going to get into the multiplayer game as well. Just looking at the number of tracks, cars and cups on offer, FlatOut 2 seems like it has a lot under its hood, but you have to bear in mind that a lot of this content feels recycled after a while. At least that's the impression I got. Nonetheless, I would probably get this game just for the sheer pleasure of driving a good car into a gas station and blowing the whole thing up. The feeling is pretty amazing and the on screen action is spectacular. It's an adrenaline-charged experience that fans of arcade racers shouldn't miss.

Short verdict: awesome paint job and horsepower, but you might not rack up a lot of mileage on this puppy.

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HIGHS
Spectacular visuals and physics, solid AI - great racing in general, great soundtrack, fun mini-events;

LOWS
After a while, tracks and cups start feeling very repetitive, not a lot of difference between the three racing modes, a bit too easy when you have a powerful tricked-out ride.

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