Final Glimpse: Many ragdoll drivers were injured during the making of this game ? shweet!
Does the daily grind of rush hour traffic get you down? Do you suffer from bouts of road rage where you wish fiery vehicular death on idiots who cut you off? Well, take a deep breath and relax because the ultimate cure for traffic frustration is almost here with the outrageous FlatOut 2.
Finnish developer Bugbear is putting the finishing touches (no pun intended ? well, okay, it was) on the sequel to their insanely fun demoliton racer, where causing as much wanton destruction was just as important as crossing the line first. They listened to their fans and critics alike and are working hard to make the sequel bigger, better and more over-the-top than ever; and from the looks of it so far, they are succeeding beyond expectations.
The ?2? in the title is appropriate because almost everything in the game is being doubled in size from the original, including the number of vehicles (up to 34), tracks (60, which includes six new Demolition Derby tracks) and Ragdoll Olympic events (12). Nice! They also completely reworked the gameplay. For example, although the original single player campaign was loads of fun, it was also a bit repetitive thanks to the small number of similar-looking cars and generic enemy drivers. The sequel will now have individual opponents with their own unique personalities and driving styles, making things a lot more ?personal? when you smash into them (or they into you). The vehicle designs will be a lot more distinguishable and are divided into three classes. You will start the game with the durable but low-powered demolition derby junkers, then move up to faster and more powerful street cars, and finally to full-fledged race cars. You will also be able to unlock hidden vehicles like a semi-trailer and a bus ? sure, they may not be good for racing but damn, they're sure to make a big mess!
The generic rural tracks of the original have now been replaced with more interesting and recognizable designs loosely based on actual US locations like the Los Angeles storm drainage canals. This means there will be a lot more variety, ranging from city circuits to desert to forest and everything in between. As before, each track will be filled with destructible objects like signs, fences, trees and even buildings you can smash into, but now you will have your choice from a whopping 5000 destructible objects per track ? a huge jump up from ?only? 3000 in the original. Just keep in mind that any debris you or your opponents create will remain on the track and become nasty obstacles that could slow you down or cause you to crash on the next lap.
All tracks will have alternate routes like narrow alleyways or side roads, but you will also be able to make your own route by smashing through plate glass windows and barn doors. Cool! Now only if we could do that in real life?
The single player campaign will see a brand new Championship Mode, where you earn points in each of the three car classes. Unlike the original where you had to earn a podium finish just to advance, in Championship Mode you will earn cumulative points based on each race performance, just like a real race series. Since the goal is to beat your opponents in overall points, not just in individual races, you will be able to afford a couple of bad races here and there.
Car handling is also being tightened up to be more arcade-like and not as realistic as before. Normally that would be a bad thing in a racing game but in this case, tighter control should increase the fun factor and open up better opportunities to cause more spectacular crashes.
What hasn't changed from the original are the insane smash-ups and gratuitous vehicular mayhem that made it oh so fun. As in normal racing games, your objective will be to finish first; whether you do that by out-driving your opponents or destroying their cars is up to you. Just be aware that your opponents won't exactly follow the rules of the road either and are itching to take you out in the most violent manner possible. To help you win, you can build up a nitrous boost and earn cash to buy upgrades; and just like before, the more damage you cause to both your opponents and the environment, the more cash and nitrous you earn. However, this time around your opponents will be able to build up nitrous too, so you will need to be extra diligent at causing as much outrageous destruction as possible (as if you needed any added incentive).
Of course, the ultimate goal is to cause a crash so severe, you make an opposing driver go flying screaming through his windshield to painfully smack into any object in his path. Yes, the infamous ragdoll drivers are back to satisfy our deep sadistic desires to watch the most horrifyingly funny crashes possible.
And yes, this means the morbidly hilarious Ragdoll Olympics are returning! For those not familiar with this exciting sporting event, the goal is to slam your car into an immovable object and eject your driver through the windshield, where he must hit a specific target to score points. Nice, eh? The Ragdoll Olympic events are ridiculously funny but also quite hard, since you have to take into account speed, angle of entry and trajectory when aiming your driver. Fortunately, you will now be able to exert a bit of mid-air control over the driver to help adjust your aim.
This time around, there will be 12 events: Bowling, Basketball, Curling, Darts, High Jump and Ski Jump are all pretty self explanatory. Some new events include Baseball, where you will start on the pitcher's mound and drive towards home, where you will launch your driver into a giant bat that smacks him into the air. You earn points based on the quality of your hit, but if your driver lands in any of the giant mitts lying on the field, you're out.
Field Goal will have you driving across a football field full of giant wooden cut-out players who are moving back and forth across your path. Your objective is to eject your driver through the goal posts but you will have to watch the clock while maintaining good speed by avoiding the players. Similarly, Soccer has you trying to throw your driver into the net blocked by a giant wooden players and a goalie that is rapidly moving from side to side.
Ring of Fire sounds like a bad case of hemorrhoids but in this case, you will have to throw your driver through a row of flaming rings that grow smaller and curve towards a pool of water. In Royal Flush you have to aim your driver at a giant set of playing cards and build your hand based on which cards he hits. The catch is the cards will be randomized each time you take a run, so you will have to decide quickly where to aim him. Stone Skipping will have you skipping your driver across a long swimming pool; by hitting a button at the appropriate time, you will be able to extend his skips until he slows down and sinks gurgling to the bottom of the pool.
As much fun as abusing AI ragdoll drivers can be, the real fun will be abusing your friends' ragdolls. FlatOut 2 will support up to eight players over Xbox Live and will include standard races (if you can call any race in FlatOut ?standard?), demolition derbies and all of the Ragdoll Olympic games. Cool!
Graphically, the game looks great. The car damage modeling is simply amazing, as are the stunning particle physics as glass and parts go flying through the air in wild vehicular mayhem. The squealing tires, crunching sheet metal and horrified screams of airborne drivers all add to the destructive fun.