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FlatOut 2 Review

Developer: Bugbear Publisher: Empire
Release Date: August 1, 2006 Also On: PC, PS2 and Xbox

I play a lot of racing games. In fact, far more so than any other type of game out there. From Need for Speed and Burnout to Forza and Gran Turismo, I play them all. FlatOut is one of the few that I had not tried. It was released in Europe in 2004, coming to America the following summer. Our own Dean Stokes reviewed the original FlatOut, calling it a “must buy” and giving it a 9.3 out of 10.

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While I share Dean’s enthusiasm for racing games, and while I have not played the original FlatOut, I can say from playing FlatOut 2 that it offers both some of the same tried and true game mechanics, as well as some original content that is sure to entertain. FlatOut 2 breaks down into offline play and online play, with a career and an Xbox Live component.

Let us start with the career mode. The first thing you do is buy a beater. This is an entrance-level car that will get you into the Derby Class. Basically you will race around tracks, trying to place the highest in the ladder while also damaging your opponents. You gain extra cash from banging them up, having the fastest lap, etc. Overall, there are three classes with hours of races: Derby, Race and Street.

You will also have to compete in a derby where survival is not the only key to victory. You can be the last one standing and still lose if you do not accumulate enough points from hitting opponents. There is also a crash meter that will force you to hit someone within a certain period of time. If you get complacent or try to sit on a lead, you can end up losing the derby altogether.

The racing gameplay feels a lot like Burnout, except the tracks are almost completely destructible. Be careful to avoid flying debris as that picket fence your opponent just ran over can slow you down. Obstacles like trees, ditches and man-made objects will also delay your time, possibly even resulting in a wipe-out from a head-on collision. The great thing about FlatOut 2 is that it is very much an open race where you can fly off a hill, take a side route, go through a mall or jump over construction.

One of the biggest surprises for me was the FlatOut 2 soundtrack. They have some big-name bands for what I thought was a relatively low-profile title. Among them are Audioslave (one of my favorites), Alkaline Trio, Fallout Boy, Rob Zombie and Nickelback. Even though I am not a big fan of their song selection from these high profile bands, it is impressive that this soundtrack could compete with the likes of Burnout Revenge.

Finally, what would FlatOut be without the mini-games? What popularized the first and made the second even possible were these crazy distractions that have little to do with racing. Fling your driver like a dart, trying to reach the highest height possible on a wall. Shoot him into the stratosphere as you aim for ten pins in a game of bowling. Ever skim pebbles across water when you were a kid? Try doing it with your racer in FlatOut 2. It is over-the-top mini-games like this that make gaming a pleasurable hobby today.

FlatOut 2 is what it is. You should come in expecting what you are going to get: a racing game that doesn’t take itself too seriously, but still offers the necessary structure for a competent racing experience. The career mode racing feels an awful lot like Burnout, but it is impossible to compete on a level as great as that franchise. So you need something else, and Empire has it with the derby and assortment of mini-games. For racers that don’t take racing seriously, I would recommend taking a purchase of FlatOut 2 seriously.

Graphics: 9
Sound: 8
Gameplay: 9
Creativity: 9
Replay Value/Game Length: 9
Final: 8.8
Written by Kyle Review Guide