It would have been nice if there had been more variety in track design and car design in FlatOut. For sure, this is a great-looking game with some excellent car models and track environments, but there just aren't enough of them. Most cars handle exactly the same, and though there are a few notable differences in aesthetic design, there aren't any truly outlandish vehicles to play around with. There are really only five or six different racing environments, with multiple track layouts for each (some of which really just feel like previous tracks in reverse). The PC version of FlatOut is the clear-cut graphical winner, especially if you have a higher-end PC, as the graphics are almost astonishingly sharp when turned to a higher resolution. The graphics look really nice at a lower resolution too, but they are more comparable to those on the Xbox version, which also look great despite being a little bit blurrier than the graphics on the PC. The PS2 version is predictably rougher around the edges and not nearly as dynamic looking. However, it runs very smoothly with no more frame rate slowdown than the occasional bouts the other two platforms are also subject to (and it still looks pretty great for what the PS2 is capable of).
The best aspect of FlatOut is its multiplayer. It is neither the deepest nor most involved racing multiplayer mode ever put on the PC, PS2, or Xbox, but the races are just a blast when you've got a full eight people going in a regular race or a demolition derby--at least, on the PC and PS2. The Xbox version is inexplicably missing demolition derbies online. And for that matter, the PC version is perplexingly missing online, period, relegating you to LAN play only (dumb move, considering how much fun the online can be). Anyway, the main reason the multiplayer is so much more compelling than the single-player racing is because the opponent artificial intelligence offline is pretty hit or miss. The game suffers from some very noticeable rubber-banding, and your opponents are seemingly always right on your tail, ready to overtake you. Fortunately, you're never out of a race completely, as the AI is just as prone to hitting rails, trees, and other destructive bric-a-brac as you are. They're also extremely aggressive, which will probably lead to at least a few moments of extreme frustration as they constantly nudge and push you into a rail, causing your driver to inadvertently flee the scene, so to speak. Overall, you could call the opponent AI serviceable, but not exactly great. But, again, the multiplayer significantly makes up for this shortcoming, since it's so much more fun when you've got people to play against.
The gameplay can be frustrating, but that frustration is alleviated somewhat by the sheer ridiculousness of the game's wrecks.
Since FlatOut was developed in Europe, it's not altogether surprising that the soundtrack comes from a lot of artists that North American players might not have ever heard of. What is kind of odd is that all the bands that have been culled together for this game all sound like they're trying to do their best impersonation of generic American alternative rock. A few of the tunes are legitimately catchy, but for the most part, they just kind of fade into the background as you play. On top of everything else, the lack of custom-soundtrack support on the Xbox or PC is pretty annoying. The rest of the sound effects are all quite good, though not any better than most other competent racers on the market.
FlatOut would be a whole lot easier to recommend if certain aspects of its package were tightened up. The merely mediocre artificial intelligence, the weirdly sporadic multiplayer features across platforms, and the repetitive driver-launching mechanic are probably going to annoy the hell out of some people. But if you can look past some of these flaws, the game's delightfully unscripted core racing mechanics can be a lot of fun, especially when played against others in a multiplayer setting. As it is, it's a very good game that falls just shy of greatness, and serious demolition racing fans would do well to check it out.