Physics Games and Physics-Based Game Downloads

Smashingly Fun Vehicle Physics with FlatOut 2

Tuesday, July 18th, 2006 by Matthew in Physics Games
1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (Rate this game! 376 votes, average: 4.06 out of 5)

It’s rare that I review AAA retail games, or driving games, but Bugbear Entertainment’s Flat Out 2 is too remarkable to pass on any mention. I was a huge fan of the first title. It delivered very well-tuned driving physics in a standard race mode, as well as ragdoll-based minigames. FlatOut 2 takes the same formula–solid vehicle physics, an insane amount of object interaction on the track, and ragdoll minigames–and embellishes it with amazing production values. The result is worth talking about.

Vehicle Physics

The first FlatOut title has my favorite vehicle physics implementation in any racing game. Bugbear managed to strike the perfect balance between simulation physics and arcade physics. It really makes you feel like you’re a much better driver than you really are. The first game also let you set that realism slider when you started a new game by choosing between normal/pro modes. You can definitely feel the physics helpers in the easier mode.

FlatOut 2 no longer lets the player choose between easy and hard physics; it falls somewhere between the original game’s two modes in terms of fidelity of simulation. I was disappointed by this, because I really enjoyed the challenge of the more realistic physics in the first game. Still, the game strikes a remarkable balance between simple, arcade physics, and squirrelly, difficult to control simulation-style physics (there’s a lot to tweak, too, as this screenshot shows). The career mode is broken up into three classes of cars. In addition to adding speed, the higher classes of cars also subtly transition away from arcade-y physics helpers to harder-core simulation physics.

Thousands of Physics Objects

One of the standout features in FlatOut 2 is the sheer number of physics objects placed on each track. We’re talking thousands of objects per level. Tons of buildings, fences, and structures are destructible, and the game actually rewards you with nitro for smashing through them. This adds chaos to the races, both visually and physically. By the last lap objects are littering the track, which creates the risk of popping your car into the air. Even a brief lapse in traction could result in failed cornering.

FlatOut 2 Screenshot
(Destructible Fence in FlatOut 2

Ragdoll Minigames

The gimmick in the original FlatOut was that if a car was hit hard enough, its driver would be tossed through the windshield as a physics ragdoll. While it was occasionally entertaining to feel the bump of another driver beneath your wheels, they expanded on this concept by creating a bunch of minigames where you deliberately eject your driver in bizarre facsimiles of sporting events.

FlatOut 2 has 8 minigames, from the high jump to soccer to curling. The core of these minigames is selecting the angle of launch, but you can also direct your ragdoll driver midair to fine-tune your intended landing. The minigames have a very Dismount-like or demoscene-ish feel to them (which makes sense, since roughly a quarter of Bugbear’s employees have demoscene backgrounds, and their business development director is one of the main organizers of Assembly). I didn’t find any of the minigames particularly engaging on a long-term level, but they are great fun to optimize and complete the first time through.

FlatOut 2 Screenshot Screenshot of Physics Games
(FlatOut 2 Game Screenshots)

My Favorite Racing Game

FlatOut 2 does a great job of extending the FlatOut franchise. I’m not sure if I like the physics in FlatOut 2 quite as much as I enjoyed the first game, but combined they’re easily my favorite titles in the genre. It’s easily my favorite implementation of vehicle physics when it comes to a combination of arcade and true-to-life simulation physics.

The North American release of FlatOut 2 actually isn’t for another two weeks (this review is based on the European version). The PC version is $29.99, and the Xbox/PS2 version is $39.99.

I’ll update with a demo link when one is available.

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21 Responses to 'Smashingly Fun Vehicle Physics with FlatOut 2'

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  1. Dylan said,

    on July 18th, 2006 at 9:24 pm

    I bought the first one recently, and will probably buy this one for pc.

  2. Eric said,

    on July 19th, 2006 at 8:39 am

    It makes me sad, but it appears the European version, at least, includes Starforce. Hopefully the American release won’t be saddled with that, or I’m certain it will cost them some sales, probably mine included.

  3. Dosou said,

    on July 19th, 2006 at 9:03 am

    Looks great, although it’s probably too good for my pc. Probably convince someone to get it for the XBox.

    Btw, what was the music used in this one also?

    Sounded wonderful!

  4. Dosou said,

    on July 19th, 2006 at 9:17 am

    Idea! Put the name of the song in the video or underneath the vid or sth like that.

  5. fluffy bunny said,

    on July 19th, 2006 at 10:46 am

    Good to see this game getting some attention, I’ve been enjoying it a lot lately. Well worth getting. Hopefully the anti-Starforce brigade won’t manage to harm the sales too much, because Bugbear deserves a success with this game.

  6. Matthew said,

    on July 19th, 2006 at 11:01 am

    The European version does use Starforce 4 (Pro, which is the system driver version). Currently there isn’t any way around it. Hopefully the US release uses less contentious copy protection.

  7. swart said,

    on July 20th, 2006 at 7:07 pm

    Music was Wildcat by Ratatat. Brand spanking new music, I am surprised they used it here.

    ps to the reviewer – awesome taste in music :)

  8. swart said,

    on July 20th, 2006 at 7:14 pm

    Correction to the above comment, the track name is actually “Nostrand” , not Wildcat

  9. Beakless said,

    on July 21st, 2006 at 11:21 am

    Actually, since we’re on the subject of Flatout 2, (By the way lovley game, i;m glad you mentioned Matt…) dose anyone know any cheats for this game, like, ohh i don’t know how about unlocking ALL the cars in the game.

    Coz the AI IS kinda hard

    Pleaase tell me if you know any…

  10. Matthew said,

    on July 21st, 2006 at 11:29 am

    I’m not aware of any cheats, but my save game has the game 100% completed if you’d just like to use that.

  11. Beakless said,

    on July 22nd, 2006 at 3:45 am

    That would be nice, but i bought the PS2 version. :(

    Thanks anyway

  12. Beakless said,

    on July 22nd, 2006 at 4:55 am

    Oh, and Matt.

    You HAVE to tell us what that song was!
    I’ve watched this video about 8 times now just to hear the song, :-)

    Is there some sort of MP3 download availavle?

  13. Beakless said,

    on July 23rd, 2006 at 11:50 am

    Don’t keep me waiting Matthew, I…NEED………..THAT SONG!

  14. Beakless said,

    on July 24th, 2006 at 7:10 am

    I’m going CRAZY!

  15. Dosou said,

    on July 24th, 2006 at 10:07 am

    Eh, read the above post =.=

    swart said,

    on July 20th, 2006 at 7:07 pm

    Music was Wildcat by Ratatat. Brand spanking new music, I am surprised they used it here.

    ps to the reviewer – awesome taste in music :)
    swart said,

    on July 20th, 2006 at 7:14 pm

    Correction to the above comment, the track name is actually “Nostrand” , not Wildcat


  16. Beakless said,

    on July 25th, 2006 at 6:51 am


    i can’t even begin to tell you all how silly i feel :-)


  17. flameo said,

    on August 5th, 2006 at 4:04 pm

    so there is no way around Starforce? =( well that sucks i hope they do soon ;D lol

  18. Flameo said,

    on August 24th, 2006 at 9:48 am

    here is most of the cheats for flatout2 ps2 version

    GIEVEPIX all cars and 1 million creds
    GIVEALL all tracks
    RAIDERS Big Rig Truck
    WOTKINS Flatmobile car
    RUTTO Pimpster car
    KALJAKOPPA Rocket car
    GIEVCARPLZ School bus

    and the one you wanted all cars! ^^

  19. Kurrus said,

    on December 31st, 2006 at 8:35 am

    WAHT???????????????????? Starforce?? NO WAI!!!!1
    Well, I’ll pass this time. Heck, why all the good games come with Shitstarforce??

    Nice song btw.

  20. thenecronwolf said,

    on March 5th, 2007 at 4:37 pm

    I just bought the Steam version, it came with flatout 1 and 2… and no Starforce… for $25!!!

    I love this game so much, the graphics, the physics, the online play! This game is probably my favorite game EVER!!!

  21. on July 16th, 2007 at 3:10 pm

    Good news. The american release uses Securorom, not starforce.

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