reviewed on PC
When Flatout burst onto the gaming scene last year it was a breath of fresh air for the arcade derby racer genre, not seen since the likes of Destruction Derby. Recently we saw the release of the sequel which greatly improves on the gameplay, length and variety of the first game. Oh, and did I mention, it is a complete blast to play! Flatout 2 is largely about one thing - fun. If you are looking for a hardcore simulation, get GTR but for sheer laugh-out-loud enjoyment, you will not get better than Flatout 2. Why? Read on to find out...
Quantity and Quality
Whilst fans of the first game appreciated the efforts of Bugbear to produce a half decent game that breaks the usual racing mould, many were left disappointed by the length and overall lack of difficulty in the first game. Everything seemed somewhat - experimental. And although elements of promise were there, such as the somewhat clunky stunt style events, the close racing, the damage and the destructible scenery, one couldn't help but feel as though it was all a bit rushed. Flatout 2 has completely fixed this by not only adding more content to the game, but also by making sure that all of it is really up to standard. Multiple routes in racing really do exist, and there are often several ways to complete any given lap. Derbies are more complex and the stunts are more numerous and challenging. The addition of a multiplayer element, which did not exist in the first instalment, also increases the appeal. With tournaments already running and patch support arriving to sort out the last few issues, Flatout 2 will grip you and keep you playing for longer.
So, you think you have what it takes to drive?!
Why not try out the new career mode? Flatout 2 again builds on the original here by adding more length and variety to the single player campaign. There are three classes of car, with 34 cars to unlock in total; derby (the starting class of clapped out bangers), race (the slightly quicker and sleeker cars of a hybrid stock car style) and street (the boy racer category with faster weaker cars, suitable for racing more than smashing into each other!). The cars are extremely varied with many different characteristics, unlike the predecessor, in which many of the cars looked different, but handled in a similar way. Whilst there is little doubt that all of the cars handle in a very arcade like way, they all have very different attributes. From 4x4's to coupes to clapped out bangers and even school buses, there are cars to suit every taste. Each car has a bundle of statistics attached, such as handling, acceleration, weight and so on. These can be modified as you progress through the career mode by gaining credits and purchasing upgrades in a simplistic style of other titles such as Gran Turismo.
The upgrades do make a real difference, and though there is little skill in picking the correct upgrades, as you should be able to afford all of them, it provides you with some interesting choices; Do you buy a new car or just heavily upgrade the one you have to its limit to win races? Do you go with a bulldozer to wreck everyone else, or do you go with pure speed to out-run them? The greater choice and variance in the cars this time around give more interest in the single player section.
Career and your challengers
Not only are the cars more varied, but there are now far more tracks spanning 31 cups in career mode, with 8 racers in each event. The main idea behind the career mode is to progress through the various cups, beginning in derby mode and ending up in street mode. All along the way you will be competing in stunt and derby events along the way to gain credits and build up your garage. The pacing is good, and cups get both longer and more challenging as you wind your way through the competition. Races vary in length from a couple of laps to five or more, and cups may consist of between two and six tracks. This time around, the developers have created characters who will stick with you through the various competitions. They each have different attributes - the gloriously titled Frank Maclov enjoys bashing you around, whilst Sofia Martinez is far more intent on winning the race - and in a small way, it adds to the way you go about racing. In reality, the small bits of 'background' you get on the characters is cliched and irrelevant, but it does give the AI some aggressive tactics as well as some personality.
In general, the AI is good and what you might expect from such a game. They are quite happy to crash into anything and everything and are not scared of taking different routes, or even sacrificing themselves to push you off the road. Although in derby mode, they can have a tendency to gang up on you, generally they are happy scrapping with each other and treat you as an equal! They certainly don't stick to racing lines, and collisions do result in the expected conclusions, instead of them sticking to the road and you doing a 360 (or more likely 1080 in Flatout 2)!
One negative point however is that more experienced racing enthusiasts may not find them challenging enough. As soon as you have a couple of upgrades on your car, you will often find yourself coasting to the front of races and winning easily. But as you will see in the next section, perhaps there is more to life than winning the race...
No Pros and Cons at this time