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FlatOut 2

The hard racing sleeper hit returns for a second dose - we taste it and decide this medicine good!

We love it when a sleeper becomes a huge hit, and that's just what the original FlatOut was. Having gone on to shift over a million copies, it was no surprise to learn that not only would FlatOut 2 be headed to Xbox, but it would be bigger, brasher and ballsier than before. Changes galore have taken place under the hood of the FlatOut engine - including, you'll be pleased to hear, improved seatbelts. They're just one of the many new upgrades available throughout the game.

Developer BugBear thought the sensitivity of the first FlatOut was set too high, and we're inclined to agree. It seems every bump or box you struck had you flying out the windshield, so the makers have reined that particular feature back in, letting you really go to town in the destruction department. Better still, the more destructive you want to be, the more money you can spend on the likes of seatbelts, harnesses and roll-cages.

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FlatOut 2's car roster is now bolstered to a hefty 34, crossing various genres of vehicle. There were only muscle cars in the first game, but now you'll be able to race sports cars, compacts and pick-ups, and you'll get to keep them this time too. If you do well in one particular car and want to tune it up or slap some stickers on it, there's a garage section where you can collect and store your cars. You can even try to win cars from rival racers, each of whom will have their own distinct personality, rather than just taking the form of anonymous enemy drivers. We're not sure how much this will add to the gameplay, but even if it's designed purely as set dressing we can't grumble.

With the game now set solely in the US, the environments have changed drastically, switching from the backstreets of the first game to more open areas such as city streets, mountains, cornfields and deserts. You'll be able to unlock other environments and new destruction derby arenas (twice as many as last time) too, plus several new Rag Doll games - a favourite from the original.

FlatOut 2 also promises new Live modes and an improved Championship feature, which you'll be able to enter and unlock as you progress. The better you get, the more modes you'll unlock, until you're good enough to enter special 'cup' races on Xbox Live. You'll also find several sub-races and minigames in the cup races, making FlatOut 2 online more than just a simple added extra. There'll be real benefits to taking your car from the garage and pitting it against other players.

We'll have a full hands-on and exclusive interview with the BugBear team appearing soon, but until then, feast your eyes on this gorgeous selection of spine-snapping screens.

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