Not only is it a fun racing game, but it'll provide a lot of entertainment with it's unqiue mini-games and play modes.
Empire Interactive created the whole experience with Flatout. Giving the player thirty-six different tracks to run rampant through with their car that they can upgrade and update between races. Keep in mind that al thirty-six are not exactly unique in design though; most tracks are almost like other tracks, except you’ll be racing in the opposite direction or taking different directions around different turns. While this may seem like it may get boring after the first few tracks, the developers did their best to make each track its own experience with putting in different shortcuts and blockades along the way. The different environments you’ll be racing through range from snow covered drifts, to offroad construction sites, to downtown avenues. Each terrain will have you driving differently making adjustments for the different ground texture and also, when upgrading your vehicle or just buying a new one you’ll be able to get better tires and parts that can handle the different environments better. While you race through each track, you’ll only be allowed to progress to newer tracks if you place well in the previous ones as is with most racing games. There are a variety of different types and models of cars to choose from at the start and also in between races, and they all have their own strengths and weaknesses.
One great aspect in Flatout is the physics. Pieces of your car will break away or smash while you rub up against other racers or objects in the environment. Your car will start off each race in perfect condition, but during the race, you’ll notice how it realistically takes damage to the point where the engine is fully exposed and is on fire. You’ll never have your car blow up and be made to restart the race, but as your vehicle receives more and more damage, it’ll begin to go slower and slower. This element really provides a lot of realism to the game where as most other racing games don’t even show damage or don’t even begin to deal with it at all.
The racing is a lot of fun, but that’s only half of Flatout and players who are not quite fans of the racing genre might enjoy the different games you can compete in to gain extra money on the side. There are different and very unique mini-games which can provide quite a lot of laughs. Some are more standard than usual such as a small figure eight races or even the all out destruction debry, but there are also some extremely different games where you try to vault your driver through his windshield as high as you can or where you vault him into a dart board from meters away to collect as many points as you can. Most of the odd mini-games probably remind you of being at a carnival, especially the mini-game where you try to vault your driver into different areas of a clown poster board to gain as many points as you can. This side of the game can really provide a lot of entertainment to those players who are looking for a little time off from going through consecutive races.
Graphics in Flatout look really nice and the physics really shine because of this. All the different car models look great and the same can be said when they’re being demolished. Everything in the different terrains is destructible and can be used against your opponents. And running the other racers into trees and buildings really looks great when they’re drivers burst through the windshields and go skidding off the pavement thirty yards from their cars.
Sound in the game is pretty unique. While you’re racing, you’ll be listening to different no named bands, I’m guessing from Europe where this game was developed. While you may not know any of the artists or their tracks, the music is decent enough and provides the adrenaline you’ll need to compete against your opponents on each course. Besides the music in-game, there aren’t that many other sounds to hear. When you brush up against something or smash into another car, you’ll hear the sounds of destruction, but pretty much that’s it.
One thing should be noted though, the other races on each track are quite aggressive and some courses will be extremely hard in the later stages and the computer players seem to suffer from the rubber-band effect where if you’re leading from a distance, sooner or later, whether you make a mistake or not, they’ll be on your tail again. The game also doesn’t come with an online support which really takes away a lot of fun that could have been had. If you want to compete against others in races or the ever fun destruction derby aspect of the game, you’ll have to play over lan. And of course, with most racing games on the computer, it’s quite a lot easier to play with a gamepad controller than with the mouse and keyboard.
In the end, this is a very fun racing game, that sort of creates its own genre in the meaning that it’s both a racing game, but also a game full of entertaining mini-games that will keep you laughing for quite a long time. Whether you’re into the racing genre or not, you should definitely try this title out, considering that it’s in most bargain bins. Be sure to check out its sequel coming out this fall.