Publisher: Vivendi Universal
System: Microsoft XBOX
Cost: $40 ESRB
Rating: T Review rating: 3 stars
Get ready to slam the pedal to the metal as you participate in the high-octane races and crazy rag-doll events found in "Flatout 2."The sequel to last year's hit racing game upgrades its gaming engine to not only add hundreds of destructible objects on each racetrack, but also brings destruction derby to the online arena. Fortunately, no virtual cops are found in the game or else everyone would be arrested mere seconds into each race.
While the main goal is to cross the finish line first, filling up the nitro-boost meter can be achieved only by driving recklessly. This means slamming into other cars, buildings and fences becomes a necessity.
]"Flatout 2" adds a Race Class and a Street Class to its predecessor's Derby Class, tripling the number of available cars. Unfortunately, they all seem to handle pretty much the same, with the only major difference being speed. That makes the ability to upgrade each vehicle a welcome option. Enhancing the engine, changing tires and streamlining the body produce noticeable results that help to differentiate each vehicle.
Several rag-doll mini-games have been added to last year's roster of events, but most are mere distractions from racing. The destruction derby is where I spend most of my time, and now that it's playable online, each match is completely unpredictable. You can even team up with others to perform the infamous Malachi Crunch maneuver on opponents.
In terms of mass vehicular destruction, this game is second only to the "Burnout" series. Think of "Flatout 2" as the roughneck cousin of "Burnout Revenge."
Game: "The Ant Bully"
System: Sony PlayStation 2
ESRB Rating: E10-plus
Review rating: 2 1/2 stars
Based on the animated movie of the same name, "The Ant Bully" lets you play as Lucas "The Destroyer" Nickle as he attempts to make amends to the ant colony that he terrorizes.
Like most movie-based video games, this title offers little more than a basic third-person adventure. After the ants shrink him to their size, the humbled Lucas must learn the ways of the colony and protect the ants from various enemies to earn their trust. He starts off with a simple staff that's used to whack smaller insects, and eventually obtains more destructive weaponry, including larvae silk squirters and seed bombs, from the ant colony.
While there's a modicum of open-ended adventuring to be had, "Ant Bully" is mostly a linear affair filled with quests that require the player to tediously locate and retrieve certain items. Other quests require the protection of key items from enemy bugs, and if just one of these items is lost or destroyed, the mission must be replayed.
For a game aimed at children, "Ant Bully" can be quite difficult at times. Although the game-play design could be improved, the level design is visually appealing. It isn't often that you get to see the world through an ant's eyes, and players will appreciate how the smallest item in our world can seem gigantic to insects.
In addition, seemingly innocuous items can be deadly to tiny creatures, such as shards of glass creating lasers when sunlight passes through them.
In the end, "The Ant Bully" will appeal only to youngsters who enjoyed the movie.
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4 stars - Must have
3 stars - Pretty good
2 stars - So-so
1 star - Don't waste your time
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Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB)
T: Teen (13 and older)
E10-plus: (Everyone 10 and older)
M: Mature (17 and older)