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FlatOut 2 hands-on

The sequel to the crash-happy racer FlatOut will careen into stores next month, and unlike the original - which was notable mainly for sending your driver flying through the windshield at the drop of a hat - FlatOut 2 looks to have plenty to help it stand out.

For starters, the game looks beautiful. Sure, it starts you off racing junkers on dirt tracks, but there's a lot of detail packed into everything you see. Your car, for instance, sports nice-looking light reflections when it's pristine, and shows realistic damage when it isn't. Also, the developers have added some gleaming city environments to the game's tracks, all of which are jam-packed full of things to destroy.

In fact, nearly everything can be destroyed, including your car - which is made up of a bunch of individual parts that fall off realistically as you crash into competitors, scrape against obstacles and land hard after jumps. Buildings can be crashed through and torn apart as well, and even seemingly immovable obstacles like telephone poles can be knocked down with a slight impact. It's also nearly impossible to go through a single lap without kicking up all kinds of scrap metal and other loose debris that's just left lying around.

And then there are the stunts. As anyone who played FlatOut knows, the real fun in this game isn't in racing, but in flinging your poor driver to a spectacular, bone-crunching death.