The laws of physics state that two physical objects cannot occupy the same point in space. FlatOut 2 encourages you to test this law on every lap of the track. The combination of velocity, impacts, and varying track surfaces make this game a challenge to drive throughout your run at the career mode. Let us take a closer look at this equation, and see what this game adds up to.
Before I get started, lets be clear on what kind of system this ‘equation’ is running on:
- Athlon 3000XP
- 2 gigbytes of Corsair Value Select RAM
- ASUS A8N-SLI Premium Motherboard
- Nvidia Geforce 7900GT video card
- AC97 Sound
- Logitech MX 1000 mouse
The engine that is used for FlatOut 2 is very amazing. If you give the game a racehorse of a computer to run on, it will turn up the detail to jaw dropping levels. Even better, the engine runs well on lesser graphics cards, and still looks very nice. Framerate was a little inconsistant on my laptop PC (ATI 9700mobility) but only after lots of debris was spilled on the track or during some wrecks. The cars also have a decent amount of detail with quarter panels, hoods, glass, and parts of the frame that can tear away as you crash into people and take damage. Several times I crossed the finish line with little more than a frame supporting me, and I could even pick out pieces of my car as I drove by them. The developers deserve a round of applause for making a very flexible graphics engine for this game. This game came with an impressive soundtrack to accompany the mayhem. Bands such as Papa Roach, Nickelback, Megadeth, Yellowcard, Rise Against, Fall Out Boy, Audioslave, Motley Crue, and Rob Zombie fill out the playlist that you hear during the menus and various races. Whomever picked the playlist really put some thought into what kind of music to play during a fast paced racing game. There aren’t any ‘quiet tracks’ during any point of this title, and they all help to set the white-knuckle mood during the races. My only complaint is that the system doesn’t provide any way to edit the playlist or provide a custom one for the PC. I like these songs…but I wanted to turn them off after hearing them all for 20 hours. Also, they wasted some of the music during the menus as you usually only ever spend a minute or two picking options. Initally, I sat down to play this game using only my keyboard. For the first tier of Career races, this was okay. It didn’t cut it for much longer after that. I obtained a Pelican 360 controller, and set it up on my PC, and the game improved greatly. Using the analog stick to drive made it much easier to take the turns and avoid crash attempts by the AI, and it only took a minute or two to set up the controller. My disappointment with the interface is that it is a lift over of the console version, requiring me to use the keyboard whenever I wasn’t racing. I was disappointed that I couldn’t even set up my D-pad to get me through the different menus. I really wish they had taken into account that the PC has a different standard input style than the console systems. The primary game mode for FlatOut 2 is the Career mode. This is racing through a series of circuits at four different levels, Derby, Race, Street, and Grand Finals. Each level of play has three tiers of racing. You have to be in the top three of each circuit in a tier to make the next tier available. Derby is the initial mode, and has the lowest stat cars. Race level takes things up to vehicles that are similar to normal cars and trucks that are driven every day, and Street has well tuned machines available for you to purchase and drive.
Throughout your career, you will earn money by winning (or placing) in the various Cup races. You then use that money to purchase better cars, and upgrade the various parts, making your car stronger and faster for the next race. Part of those winnings come from crashing into your opponents, or causing the most destruction on the track. A Cup race consists of three to seven tracks at which you are awarded points at the end of the race. Once you have completed the Cup by placing in the top three, it unlocks an special event for you to play. These events vary, from Destruction Derby Arenas to special events such as Stone Skipping (using your driver), or Royal Flush, in which you use your driver to hit large metal cards to make your hand. By winning first place in every event, you are awarded the ability to purchase special cars to use in your races.
In the race, it is everything goes to get first around the track. Any impacts you make on other cars awards you Nitro to use, and if the hit was solid enough , you will earn bonus Nitro. Some of my best moments in races occured when I ran someone clean into a wall with Nitro, causing them to crash severely or even blow up, eliminating them from the race. Crashing through windows into buildings or destroying propery on the way also earns you Nitro to use, and may even reveal shortcuts to take along the way. Everything about this game encourages you to think of alternate ways to win the race, whether you destroy your opponent or drive around them.
By the time you finish Career mode, you will have played all the tracks to death. And what really makes this game is the ability to go online and play real people on the different courses. There are many different modes to play from destruction derbies to full on circuits (multiple tracks in a session). Online was very simple to set up, with no login system to be dealt with. It was nice to just be able to connect and drive. The game also allows for hotseat play of the various special challenges, and LAN play. I had a lot of fun getting online with eight people and tearing it up, and the netcode seemed to be fairly lag resistant. The game didn’t provide a way to specify what upgrades you used, only just 0%, 50%, or 100% upgrades.