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SummaryAn all round fun car-wrecker!
The GoodFor starters of you like American 70's muscle cars, this game will win you on the spot, as it offers a lot of them to be driven, drifted and destroyed! That's all this game is about: drive around, complete the laps and smash your opponents and the scenery to gain nitro, cash and access to the next tournament.
The graphics and 3D modeling are simply beautiful. The cars are not the best models you've ever seen in a game, but they serve well the cause. And just wait till you see how they modeled the wrecked versions! Your car literally falls apart, looses it's panels and gets so much deformation that in the end only the frame is left! The scenery and track design is a bit too cartoony reminding me the early two NFS Undergrounds a bit, it is complex, very well designed and implemented though. As for the tracks they are fairly easy to get into and after a few runs one can easily remember the corners and hairpins. The game offers 4 type of tracks basically: The country and speedway type circuits with dust and muddy surfaces, which require an extra amount of skill to race'em through and on the other hand, city based tracks and circuit tracks with a more steady tarmac surface. The tracks themselves come in a wide variety and the player won't get easily bored as each track theme offers a number of different routes, some fairly short, others long enough to keep you on suspense till the very last moment. The best thing is that every time you race a circuit you'll explore new shortcuts and better ways to cut through corners and obstacles.
Playing the game can be done in various ways. There's the standard career type of game where you get the whole deal in your face, or you can go race single events such as normal sprints, destruction derbies, speedway runs, stunts, or go multiplayer.
Racing is split to 3 classes, beginning with the Derby class, which basically is the easiest of the pack, as you buy a heap of junk to compete against other junk! By completing the Derby class you move on to the Race Class which packs a bit better arsenal than Derby and requires a little more driving skill. Finally there's the Street Class where all the top guns gather up to eat each other. Monster engines, Incredible speeds and deadly skills!
Each class is broken down to a number of tournaments and every tournament is broken down to a number of 3 to 6 races. So in order to win a tournament you'll have to win most of it's races, gathering more points than your opponents. Winning a tournament gives you access to the next one and to a bonus race which can either be a stunt, a destruction derby, or a speedway run. Bonus races are not obligatory, but you'll need the cash you can earn from them in order to buy better wheels, or modify your existing ones.
Cars are split into classes as well and you have to use the specified class of cars on their appropriate class of races. There's a wide selection of them, but the better models get unlocked as you progress further on the tournaments. A good thing about the car dealer is that you have the option to try a car before you actually buy it! So that gives you an idea what to expect from every model and if it suits your style of driving, which I think it's crucial, cause a wrong decision will leave you struggling on the races. All models get upgraded and beefed up, but that needs a lot of cash gathered from the races. As for their dynamics and handling, well I can only say one thing, the rear wheel drive models are a dream to drive, pumping your adrenaline to the max as with their little grip they'll have you scooping the road from one side to the other! Their handling is not very realistic, but it's surely exciting. I think the Empire team has done a good choice in this area and they have implemented it exceptionally! On top of all these, every car handles differently than the rest, which basically means that you can have a rear wheel drive model that oversteers more than others, or a front wheel drive model that just refuses to get inside the turn! :) In general the handling of these cars is a major fun factor for this game and a fact that will keep the player's interest for more time than many of the rest racing games had. Also to support this the game features a very good difficulty curve: the early races are just a walk in the park, however when you win the first couple of tournaments things begin to heat up gradually, giving you enough time and races to master your lines and your motor, which I think that is well thought of.
The AI opponents are not so dumb and they won't let you reach the top position easily. For starters they do every dirty trick there is to get you off the road, of course you can do the same and no questions asked. Crashing on opponents or scenery damages your car and if you over do it you'll get totaled and off the race. Good thing is that the cars are unrealistically tough nuts, so the end is not near! As for opponents they tend to be really fast, so even if you keep a good distance in front of them for some time, there's always this chance that one of them will crop up out of nowhere and maybe win the race, leaving you second if you're not careful. That only is a good factor, as races do not get predetermined to who's going to win from the first couple of laps. You have to drive equally at your best of abilities till the very end of the race. The opposite is possible, for example if you seem to be losing the race, you can take the first position at the very last seconds. So keep racing no matter what. Also the cars' bodies get damaged very easily, so there's no chance that you will end up a race in factory shape! Sometimes you'll only want to cry on how much damaged your car looks.
Destruction derbys are a big laugh! You're given an arena and many enter but only one comes out alive! Just get a big and strong set of wheels in there and rip their junk metal to shreds! No driving abilities are required there, just good aiming, prediction and punch!
Another good point of the game is it's exceptional replays, where you can sit back and enjoy the action! And if you've done an unbelievable stunt you can also capture it to eternity on a bitmap by pressing F12.
The icing on the cake of this already exceptional package is the excellent sound of all cars, the sound roar is very realistic and if you notice when going on bumpy surfaces the revs go up and down and the sound varies accordingly as the engine struggles with the anomalies on the surface. The soundtrack is from known rock bands and thus I cannot comment on that other than it's a good selection. But, frankly I didn't need to hear any music that would spoil the American V8's roar which is the best music for a racer's ear:)
The BadHonestly I tried hard to think of any flaw in this game. The only couple of things that I can think of right now are that the cars surfaces look too shiny for that style of cars, even those derby junks shine like they dipped them in a pool of glossy lacquer.
The second flaw is that when you view your car from a third point perspective, the two pre-set views seem to be set a bit too near and high, not leaving you much road-in-front view. Now I didn't mind of this at all, since I prefer viewing the action from inside and the driver's cam is superb in this game, but I know that many people are used to racing in third person perspective, so i don't know how comfortable they will be with the game's view presets.
Also the cars of the opponents always have better skins that those available to the player. A few paint scheme variants are available for the player's car and these are not the best you ever seen. A good idea would be that once the player wins the class, all the opponents cars get unlocked and ready for purchase at the local good'ol car dealer :)
Finally, the stunt sub games did not appeal to me at all. Not only I didn't find them amusing, quite the opposite in fact! It's only a matter of luck, if not anything else, in order to perform the stunts right. The good news about it that your performance on them doesn't affect your career racing progress, they're just money making opportunities, but I don't really see how, or have the courage to do so.
The Bottom LineI must confess that this game hooked me up since I've installed it on my system. Truth is that I love American 70's muscle cars, so this fact only got FlatOut 2 closer to my heart. If I wanted to describe the game in few words I would say that it has the exciting handling from the first "Driver" in a beautiful setting. Coming to thing of it, this is what the Dukes Of Hazzard game should have been like. Plus this game is different in the sense that it let's you go ramming freely everything that gets in your way and you get rewarded for that. Of course there's nothing stopping you from trying to master a clean driving style, but the cash rewards are much less if you go the clean racing way.
On top of all these, the game is very well thought of and laid out, with a perfect difficulty curve and design, you can be sure that it will be kept on your system for quite some time, in fact longer than any other racing game I've played recently. And I don't see any reason why not, since it delivers all the goods perfectly: nice graphics, adrenaline game play, good AI to keep you going like mad and those beasts under your hood that you have to tame their monstrous torque in order to keep your racing line. Even though I finished the career mode three weeks ago, I keep playing to gather up money to buy and mod all the rest of the available vehicles, just to feel them on a race!
Hell yeah! To put it simply, purchasing and playing this one brings a smile on my face every time a race begins!