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FlatOut 2 Preview for Xbox
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FlatOut 2 

Preview for Xbox

- William Usher, " Cyguration ", Senior Staff Writer
Tuesday, March 21, 2006 

Review Preview

FlatOut 2
Action Racing
Vivendi Universal
Bugbear Entertainment Ltd.
June, 2006


FlatOut 2 Screenshot Gallery

FlatOut 2 Screenshot Gallery

FlatOut 2 Screenshot Gallery

FlatOut was a great attempt at action racing for the PS2 and Xbox. The game featured fully destructible vehicles in (more or less) realistic ways. The dents and dings, though, were very accurate when collisions took place or metal grinded with metal. Most importantly, FlatOut was known for the ragdoll drivers that could be flung straight through the windshield, only to be respawned like nothing ever happened. The mini-games were insane and the racing itself was blanketed with hints of realism among its arcade core.

Bugbear, Vivendi, and Empire Interactive are bringing back those arcade roots in FlatOut 2. This time around, though, things have been finely tuned to suit even more wicked racing, insane stunts, and outrageous mini-games. The multiplayer support has even been re-vamped with intense split-screen action. If you were stoked about the original FlatOut, then you’ll love what Bugbear is bringing racing fans in FlatOut 2.

Three ways for wreckage

Taking what was already a remarkably competent physics engine and improving upon it even more, Bugbear is giving racers an opportunity to partake in the most extreme destruction derby game yet. With these improvements comes a new class system that features three different racing car classes for players to choose from: Derby, Race, and Street. Derby is of course the standard vehicle that you tossed around the tracks on the first FlatOut. While the Race class is similar to the Derby cars, they’re built for pavement. The last will probably be the most popular of the three and needs very little explanation, and that is the muscled-up Street class cars. Each of the cars within each class has their pros and cons depending on your racing style. You can also store cars in your garage, customize them, and pick which one you feel best suits the forth-coming race.

Bigger dents and better destruction

What’s a destruction-racing game sequel without twice as much physical damage, collision effects, and roadway mayhem? A bad sequel. That’s why the developers have been hard at work on bringing even more destructive realism to the crashes, stunts, and bumps. The physics engineers at Bugbear are hard at work on tweaking the deformable models with pin-point precision, so crashes look as dynamic and realistic as possible. Yet at the same time, the designers are ensuring that the game retains its arcade-like racing feel amid the simulation-style raceways and crashes.

As it stands, the cars will respond even more dynamically to specific impacts and environmental collisions. Pushing the current-gen systems to their limits with the available polygon-count on the vehicles, the developers are ensuring that the metal wrinkles, ripples and dents will be as flexible as they can make it without jeopardizing the frame-rate.

Watch out for the hood-bending tree!

Tracks are an especially delicate task. The tracks will showcase your car’s muscle, push the car’s suspension to the limits, or simply bend every aspect of the car into a hunk of junk. It’s no doubt the original Flatout featured some of the toughest derby tracks featured in a destruction-racing game. The dirt and snow tracks were dead-hard, and the pavement tracks either perfected your top-speed skills, or accustomed you to your opponents’ dust every lap.

FlatOut 2's tracks are now focused on giving you the maximum amount of maniacal speed racing and action-packed destruction all the way to the finish line. You can bust through buildings with debris blasting all over the place; leap from perfectly stationed ramps for dynamic jumps; or weave through environmental obstructions as you search out short-cuts through various courses. Like the original, FlatOut 2 has tons of objects and placements that can be ran over; jumped from with the appropriate speeds; or knocked onto the track to mess up your closely pursuing opponents. As of course, there are a variety of tracks ranging from the paved roadways, to the arena-derby, and even snow-filled courses.

Of course, we can’t forget those great mini-games involving the driver-flinging antics that made the original game so popular. While it has been confirmed that they are more-than-present, it has also been a widely kept secret as to what those mini-games will consist of. The developers have ensured the loyal FlatOut fans that they will definitely be worth the wait.

Computers drive crazy nowadays

AI is probably the most widely complained about feature for any game in any genre. While some games may have “advanced” or highly “evolved” mechanics for the AI, it’s very rare that gamers are actually given competent AI opponents that really stand out as worthy opponents. Normally the AI is perfect or dumb; the developers at Bugbear are aiming to create “personalities” that transcend the “perfect” and “dumb” clichés of video game AI.

With the “personality” factor coming into play, FlatOut 2 is poised to bring all the individual mayhem most people expect from on-line competitors; except, straight to the off-line portion of the game. Each of the seven other competitors will behave independently of one another and will have separate tactics that players can study and use to their advantage. Hopefully the AI will live up to its on-paper prestige, because if it does then FlatOut 2 could retain a high level replay-ability simply in its off-line modes.

Whoa! I have got to see that again!

Have you ever had one of those moments during a race where something unbelievably cool happens and everyone in the room is looking the other way? Yeah, I thought so. That’s why in a game like FlatOut 2 it was an absolute necessity to keep the replay feature, whether it’s to bask in the glory of a well-driven race, or simply show-off those cornering skills while taking flight in a jump that lands you in first-place. Replays are important in a game like this.

The original FlatOut had a replay feature, but the one in this sequel is more refined with more options and more possibilities for an original replay. You can set the camera’s position and have it pan or fly-by. This can be done by setting the start and stop time of when one camera starts and when the other one ends by setting each camera to several key-frames. This feature is still being tweaked and will probably see many upgrades before it is released. Yet, where it stands, this feature seems like a reasonable upgrade from the original.

Hey, who put a dent in my door?

With six players on the PS2 and up to eight on the Xbox, it doesn’t take rocket science to figure out that you’ll be having a blast with this game on-line. There's also a two-player split screen mode for the PS2 and four-player split screen on the Xbox for the mini-game mode. And whether it’s racing fast and furiously through the tracks or tossing the driver through the windshield in a mini-game, there’s plenty to do in FlatOut 2's multiplayer modes. You can be sure to look for this game to hit shelves for the PS2 and Xbox in June, 2006.

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