Flatout suffers from something called
"Super Monkey Ball Syndrome." What is this new disease? The unlockable
mini-games are far more entertaining than the main game itself. If Flatout didn't
offer its side games, then it would have little redeeming value.
What you're forced to do to unlock more of these addictive games
is race. It's nothing special, relying on the gimmick of your driver flying through the
windshield with sickening (in a good way) physics. These destruction derby races are
bland, with annoying track designs, muted graphics, and extensive damage modeling.
For a racer trying to offer arcade action, Flatout offers plenty of
customization. Money is easily earned by replaying races, so the challenge level is slim.
Each section of the car has its own shop, offering a variety of upgrades that feel out of
place in a game like this. You'll feel instant results on the track when these are
applied, the already easy to pick up controls making turns and braking even simpler.
All of those upgrades are worth buying, especially if you're heading for those mini-games.
A few are unlocked to begin with, with 12 more to be earned. Banking on the same gimmick,
players launch their driver in a variety of events, from bowling, high jumps, target
practice, and more. It's hilariously twisted, and it never becomes tiring.
You'll find new ways of putting the physics engine to work, like
purposely missing the target to see just how far you can launch your rider (or to miss the
protective mats to land on the concrete). The faster your car, the farther the driver can
be tossed. His (or her) screams of pain add to the already warped experience, as does the
heavy soundtrack blaring in the background.
Other bonus games offer standard destruction on specialized tracks. This was done better
years ago at the launch of the Playstation with the aptly titled Destruction Derby
(and its even better sequel). The figure 8 is fun admittedly, but ruined, like the rest of
the game, by glitches.
It's far too easy to become stuck on an object, even with something as small as a rock. A
major collision could occur ramming something you should otherwise run over. It's random,
and even the driver, once tossed, can become lodged into something because of clipping.
The game offers bonuses for destroying track side objects (which on some courses become so
numerous, they become detrimental to the fun factor), yet the first few times you need to
reset the race, you'll begin avoiding them.
With a steep price drop, Flatout becomes a decent purchase. You'll need to suffer
through some poorly done racing to get to the good stuff, but there's little question the
frustrations are worth it. The first time you bowl with a human shot through a windshield
screaming in agony, you'll realize how much fun rag doll physics are. If you just want
crashes in this generation, just stick with Burnout.