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FlatOut 2

Bugbear shifts things up a gear for enhanced physics-laden, car careening mayhem

You know those adverts where it looks like the men are sitting in the pub having a nice pint of lager? And then it turns out, through some twist of metaphor, that they're not in the pub after all - or rather they are, but they just hit a woman (who just stepped in front of their table without looking both ways), and now she's dead with her arm pointing the wrong way? If you saw that advert and thought, 'I wonder how far she'd have gone if that table was going ten times faster', then stop. First, you need to work on your empathy; second, you probably loved the original FlatOut.

Unsurprisingly in FlatOut 2, developer Bugbear has been upping the destruction quotient - where once there were a mere 3,000 objects to muck up, twat about and smash to bits per level, now there are 5,000. That means there are 67 per cent more things to drive into - as an important statistic, that belongs up there with 'over half of the last 10 per cent of a can of Coke is your own saliva'.

The AI has been improved, too - now, instead of all the non-player cars following the same standard routes, there'll be seven distinct AI drivers to worry about - and all with different personalities and characteristics. If my experience is anything to go by, this will amount to an aggressive Texan guy who goes fast and laughs, a German who takes corners efficiently, a sassy girl in short shorts who playfully drives into your arse, an Englishman who always loses, and... Erm... Grumpy, Sneezy and Doc. That could be wrong though.

Then, there's the important smashing-your- driver-through-the-windscreen side of FlatOut: the ragdoll sports. The little fella will pop out of your car a little less during racing proper, as it did get a bit annoying after a while, but he'll be in and out like nobody's business in the mini-games. If you love watching double-jointed men with no facial expressions being catapulted into a lake - and let's face it, we're not generally catered for, as a group - then this is your game.


The tracks still include the rural off-road style, but the sequel - thankfully - has more variety. Town tracks give some respite from the dirt, dust and bales of hay, and the design rewards experienced players with manifold short cuts and alternative routes.

The original FlatOut was great, destructive fun, and carved out a comfy little niche for itself with the unique use of physics. If Bugbear really has taken it one step further, and addressed the wee niggles of the first (the fairly boring AI, and the lack of longevity in most of the minigames), then the sequel promises to be, wait for it... Even carbu-better. Hey - it was either that or 'wheelie good'. Be grateful for what you got.