Review by Matt Paprocki

Empire Interactive


Graphics: 5

Sound: 6

Gameplay: 6

Overall: 6


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.

flatoutps21.jpg (66721 bytes)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.

flatoutps22.jpg (100390 bytes)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.


Go to Digital Press HQ
Return to Digital Press Home

Last updated: Friday, September 09, 2005 03:15 PM