Flat Out 2 - A Silverhaze Review

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Flat Out 2 - A Silverhaze Review

Postby Silverhaze on Fri Jul 07, 2006 3:26 pm

I bought this game a few days ago over the PS2 and Xbox versions because I wanted graphics that actually looked good.

I remember reading about the game in Edge magazine who said it had great potential back then....well the time is now and heres what I think about it.

One of the main selling points of the game is the 5000+ yes, thats upwards of five thousand breakable objects per race track! It certainly doesnt seem like that much while racing but theres still a shitload of it!!!

The basic idea of the game is a standard racer very much like Carmageddon 2 without the powerups and pedestrians. The cars are sort of normal looking too with no spikes and silly weapons. They do however break and break a LOT!! Most of the stuff on your car can be damaged beyond recognition or come flying off in a collision. Windows, doors, exhaust pipes, bumpers, bonet and boot and everything in between can go flying at any time, and they usually do.
Theres no real storyline as with most driving games, you simply start of racing Derby bangers which feels just like Demolition Derby on the PS1 way back in the day but where you can actually smash other cars up a whole load before your car is kaput. No little knocks taking out your radiator here!!
Tracks vary from forest dirt track roads to inner city streets to those huge banked storm drains you see in movies like Terminator 2 and Last Action Hero and look very nice too.

So graphics wise the game looks very much like it uses the same game engine that Need For Speed Most Wanted uses. I can run the game on my A64 3500, nVidia 6800GT and 1gig of RAM at a resolution of 1280x1024 with textures set to max and all AA and AF settings maxed out and it looks kinda pretty and runs like liquid silk covered in WD-40.
I havent noticed much movement from trees and things around the tracks but thats not important in a high speed racing game. The tracks look quite nice and fairly realistic too.

The cars also look very nice! You wont see any branded cars here though, these are all based on real cars but created by the game makers so you can smash the shit out of them as much as you like!!
Upgrades can be bought in between races and during the middle of tournaments. These include engine, suspension, brakes, body reinforcements etc but its nothing too deep, dont expect to be tuning your vehicle to precision here. They are necessary to keep in the lead but not the be all and end all of everything.

The cars also handle very well. (better with suspensiion upgrades etc) Even the fast rear wheel drive cars are manageable once you get used to them but I prefer the front wheel drive or 4WD cars myself. You can certainly get really sideways round corners while still maintaining real control of the car and jumping isnt too much of an issue either as they fly quite nicely and so long as your landing isnt too horrendous you should be able to hold most landings together.

So how about those breakable objects? We're talking just about everything from your basic wooden or chainlink fences to lamp posts to billboards to well entire shops, green houses, shopping malls, building sites, camp sites and about everything else you can think of driving though. All but the sturdiest looking trees and of course, solid looking buildings will stop you but you can pretty much tell what is going to give and what isnt. I cant tell you how satisfying it is to smash an opponent from the side and watch him plough through the front window of a shop and smash all the goods out of the way!! Of course, its even more satisfying if you have a good lead and decide to do it yourself!!

Smashing the most stuff on the track will award you with both Nitro as you race and the possibility of the Bulldozer award at the end of the race. Smashing other cars also gives Nitro as does jumping so there isnt usually a shortage of speed boost to use. The screen stretches like in the NFS games and blurs up to give an impression of more speed. This can also be used to correct yourself round corners if you take them too fast or to stop you fishtailing in a rear wheel drive car. Very useful.

The sound effects are top notch, road noise changes depending on what you drive over, dirt, gravel, tarmac, metal etc and the twisting metal and breaking glass noises of the crashes are often amazingly realistic! Especially when you score a Smash Out on another car and cause their driver to be ejected through the windscreen accompanied by a scream.
The music is the standard pop rock affair with songs by Yellowcard and that Richard III song. Mostly similar sounding and not worth mentioning past that. Play your own music if you like, thats my advice.

Driver ejections play a quite large part in the game and the minigames are centered around them, you are reqired to drive a rocket propelled car very fast and eject your driver for any number of reason such as 10 pin bowling, darts, high jump, stone skipping (yes you skip your driver on a pool of water) ski jump and others. 11 minigames in all I think and theres demolition derby comps in various locations too where the idea is just to smash as many other cars as possible. The novelty of the minigames may well wear off over time but they are a fun distraction.

So what dont I like about the game? Well at first, nothing!! But the more I play it the more I notice things. I know its my imagination but I cant help complaining when something stops me from winning a race that was so in the bag its not possible to lose!! Could be you clip something on the side of the track like a rock or a piece of debris gets under your car and flips you but its always on the last lap and always as you are about to win. Luckily you can restart any race as many times as you like and due to the lighning fast loading times (under 10 seconds for any race) you dont waste much time.
The game crashes twice on me yesterday but that was because I was flying through the menus too fast for its liking. I've learned my lesson.

The game has brilliant physics going on with all the shit flying about bouncing off cars and the road and other objects too and the cars react nicely to your controls. On the odd occasion an AI car will try to overtake you and bump into you causing him to turn sideways in front of you and then get stuck on your front bumper as you push him down the road getting slower and slower. This is incredibly annoying especially when in the lead on the last lap. Its almost as if the AI decides its not having you beat its star player and sends in a cronie to take you out. A quick smash on a rock or something usually dislodges them but if nothing is around it means slowing down til they can get their useless arse off the front of your car. This doesnt happen a great deal and you can usually catch them out in time to avoid it by spinning them harder than they expected.
Rubber band race mechanics mean you wont spend much more than 1 lap near the back of the field but that applies to the computer too, once suped up though you should be winning races by a fair margin. In the beginning anyway.

So overall:

Graphics 8/10
Sound 9/10
Music 5/10
Gameplay 8/10
Overall 8/10

Great fun for a racing game with a twist. Boring racing games like PGR3 are not my bag baby but this has that little something to keep me coming back again and again. At £30 in Game its a steal!!

Loving it despite its flaws.

So you want some shots eh? Well luckily ol' Haze has knocked up a few from his PC!! Yay!! For some reason they dont work as img links so I had to do the first ones as url links.

Shot 1 - This is 1280x1024 with textures on high and no AA or AF

Ok I changed the setting to this:

And now it looks like this:

See that bastard below me?

Got the little shit!!

And heres some random shots I thought you all might like:

Heres some of the minigames.



Stone Skipping

Darts. It tells you what the target number is. Heres the run-up!

And heres the final approach!! Looking good but its further than it looks and I hit the 11.
You have to control your guy in the air which I have to work on. The more you move him the more drag you create and so you slow down. I'll have to give these more time later.

Just had to add this debri-tastic shot from a replay. It get worse on occasion but its rarely enough to confuse you into going off the track. I'd like to add that the replays are somewhat limited in controls. Theres no rewind and you can FF, Slow mo, Play, Pause. You cant choose the camera angle either which is a bit annoying.

For the people who are still alive.
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