“Ring a Bell?” is our new look-back series of articles, covering games and subjects that we either missed, were before our time or are worth visiting again. Today we start with an odd choice – the Flatout racing games, and in particular Flatout 2.

Just another race in Flatout 2

I never owned any of the Flatout games. I rented the first two a few times and have played the PC demo of Flatout 2 over and over. What I recall most, and what compels me to play the demo still today was the shear craziness of the action. In the races, you got nitro for crashing through things, something I was probably going to do anyway. The physics weren’t very realistic and the ragdoll effects were kind of a joke but it was a blast to barrel through all obstacles on the track, trying to build up your nitro meter. You could use it to blow by your opponents, possibly knocking them around and getting more nitro for smashing into them.

As anyone who’s played a Flatout game can tell you, the races are only half of the product. They also include a number of ragdoll-based, driver-launching mini games like darts and bowling. Some were fun diversions but none of them stood out as a must-play mode. They were fun to play with other people though and enjoy the sheer insanity of shooting your driver through the windshield and through a football goal post for a field goal.

The controls were somewhat slippery and it was hard to control your car at high speeds. Since the goal of the game is to race at high speeds, that was problematic. It was also hard to judge what you could or couldn’t run through at times. Sometimes that telephone pole will just come crashing down, other times it stops you dead.

In the end this was a fun arcade/party game. Does it ring a bell to anyone else?

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