Developer: Virtual Programming
Price: $9.99 (£5.99)
Description: A Packed-Full Trilling Combat Driving Game
Pros: A ton of content, great physics, insanely fun, stunning presentation and sound.
Advised Control Method: All (keyboard control)
Whether a beaten-up Banger is your thing, or maybe a classier, luxurious street car (beware though, it hurts a whole lot more when you get that paint scratched), FlatOut 2 has it all. Whereas most racing games stick with just one racing class, one themed set of tracks or one mode, FlatOut 2 offers a variation of every one of those things. But quantity isn’t quality and what astounds me the most about FlatOut 2 is how it continues to offer so much content and replayability, yet retain that high level of polish and attention to detail that you find only in the best of the best. Believe me, this makes Asphalt 6 look like a bunch of toy cars.
Pick your track, pick your car and get racing. FlatOut 2 drifts away from the formulaic mentality that many other racers have these days where the cars feel on rails, collisions are minimal and unimpressive and the gameplay feels like one long grind. FlatOut 2 throws all of these unlikable qualities out the window as you smash, crash and flip your vehicles to create an unbelievable chorus of crushing metal and marked paintwork that ain’t going to be easy to fix. It’s obvious right from the start that FlatOut 2 is more combat focussed than many of its rivals. There aren’t any weapons, just classic car-to-car contact.
The vehicles don’t feel like their on some invisible line, keeping then unbearably on track no matter how hard you hit them. Spinning and causing opponents to lose control of the steering wheel is all part of the experience in FlatOut 2. As a result, that experience just so happens to be one of the best I have had the fortune to play in a racing game. You totally feel badass when you ‘Crash Out’ or even ‘Wreck’ an opponent using some sort of vehicle manoeuvre.
And the game’s great collision detection and car damage mechanic only enhances that experience. If you smash side on to a concrete pole, you’re going to have a massive dent right down that side of your car, and probably a head-ache in the morning too. By the end of each race, your once beautiful vehicular masterpiece will have been turned into something resembling just an engine on wheels.
But other cars aren’t the only thing you get to destroy in FlatOut 2. The environment is almost totally destructible, if you hit it hard enough that is. You’ll be splintering through wooden barns, toppling over lamp-posts and smashing fragile greenhouses. Some tracks take you through destruction set-pieces (say a Mall) whereas others require you to use your initiative and find inventive short-cuts. But don’t worry, the guys at Virtual Programming haven’t gone mad enough to make the game unrealistic. Hitting wooden telegraph post will most probably send you spinning in some awkward direction if you don’t come at it at a high enough speed. This environmental destruction actually helps the game seem more realistic whilst making it a ton of fun.
So what do we have here? Well, there are 4 career campaigns which have you racing in 3 classes of cars: Derby, Race and Street. You can upgrade and buy new cars as you earn money from races, but once you complete a tournament (spanning over 3 – 5 races) you unlock a special mode. These vary depending on your car class but you’re going to be smashing your way through Destruction Derbies which places you in a circular arena with 5 other angry drivers, bizarre Competition Challenges where you need throw your driver out of the car window to get a highscore for how far you threw him, or even use him as a bowling ball, and some other special tracks. By far the best mode being the destruction derbies. When you have got through all of that there is a multiplayer component as well.
While the sound effects in the game are good, the musical score steals the show. Whilst enjoying the game, you’ll be listening to a volley of music tracks from some recognisable bands like Nickelback and Fall Out Boy which all get you in the mood for some car collision action. They never get old and there’s enough of them to prevent you from feeling you’re hearing the same thing over and over.
The presentation is just as stunning. The developers really have a wide skill set in the visual department. You’ll be racing from locals in the autumn sun as you ride along lush yellow fields and across dusty roads to a high cityscape with hard tarmac corners and the suitable paraphernalia that comes with it, like construction sites. And the handling of the cars change to suit the ground you’re racing on.
I hope I have said enough in this review (and shown enough in the gameplay video below) to urge you to get this game. It really is a one of a kind and will be a breath of fresh air for those accustomed to the more formal, yet morosely dull, track racers you see these days. Come and have some real fun, with FlatOut 2.