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We honestly reckoned that Mashed would be a pile of poop, but then like the well-behaved games journalists that we are, we played it... and couldn't stop!

Sure, it looks a smidge rusty around the edges, but beneath this weathered chassis sits a respectable game that kicks out a load of multiplayer fun. The handling's right on the money and the arcade rubber-ripping action is instantly addictive, thanks to the dead simple and satisfying gameplay set-up.

Up to four cars can race, but it's not all about winning just one race. You can't fluke overall victory. Each car has a gauge that gradually fills up or decreases with every race. Win and a couple of coloured blocks plop into your gauge, come second and you still get a single block, third place loses you a chunk and the biggest loser gets two blocks mercilessly stolen away. First to fill their gauge is the ultimate winner, but getting onto the podium is a nerve-mashing ride.


Roadside Assistance
If you drop back too far behind the leader or get taken out it's not game over. You get to call in air strikes on the remaining cars, but this requires just as much skill as the regular race-based action. You've got to hover a coloured square marker over your chosen victim for a good few seconds and wait for the square to turn into a circle. At that exact moment you can launch a guided missile to take them out! This is where things get a wee bit tactical, because it's not always about taking out the player in first place. You want to be checking who's gauge is most full to make sure they don't get any more winning blocks.

Mashed promises to be a proper long-term laugh with a bunch of mates, but the single-player stuff sent us rapidly spiralling into the murky depths of boredom due to absurdly dim AI opponents and its striking lack of play modes. Still, if you're just on the hunt for an immediate multiplayer rush, Mashed is on track to deliver.

The verdict

Multiplayer should keep you glued to the road for ages, but going solo could send you to sleep at the wheel. Remember, tiredness kills. As does ifffy AI.

PlayStation 2
Empire Interactive
Racing / Driving, Action