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Impressions: Insane 2

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I don't drive. I get scared just pondering what arcane knowledge is required for a gear change (seriously: how?). I'm unable to appreciate the basics of realistic car physics, and I can only turn in a serious racing game when the side of the track is pushing me in that direction, scraping off adversing slogans in a slow, spark-filled cornering manoeuvre I like to call “The Pearson Gambit”. I need something unsubtle and exaggerated. So I've spent a few hours with Insane 2, the car basher that surprisingly appeared on Steam this morning. I have some thoughts!

It was a few races before I needed to use the brake. I finally managed to locate it after taking a hit from a rhino crossing in front of me in an African racetrack. The collision threw me just a bit too far out from the checkpoint I was aiming for, and I was unable to cajole myself back in the correct direction by my usual tactic of blasting the booster rocket to overcompensate. It's that sort of game. You accelerate into corners. Your four wheels are rarely on the ground at the same time. Races drag you on and off asphalt, in mud, over ramps, through Baobab trees, around Antarctic research stations. There's plenty of invention.

There's also a number of events to choose. Career mode has the advantage of unlocking spendable points to improve your ride. Tuning your car means adding points to certain stats, suspension, boost, etc. There's no need to worry about balance, really, as it seems every addition is a positive. I was a bit worried that it had locked me into a series of prescribed events on repeating tracks until I discovered that the menus were quirky. In order to select other events, you highlight Career then use left and right to scroll through the other options. It's not highlighted very well, but from the main menu you can hop into any specific race type.

Pile on!

They include driving in the beam of a helicopter's search light, arenas with randomised checkpoints, capture the flag, and more. I haven't had the chance to attempt them all, but a quick drive in the helicopter chase was hilarious. Cars aggressively force their way into a moving circle of light, bashing each other to bask in the chopper's beam. I ended up being pinched between a monster truck and a roadster, being squeezed inbetween until I popped out the car pincer and out of the light. Aggressive AI never shirked the chance to bounce me out the way, but the exaggerated physics let me wrestle my way back.

After a few races I thought I decided I was ready to take it online. I flicked through the menu and hunted for a server and ended up howling into the empty void. Don't buy it hoping to make friends or to trade car tips. There doesn't appear to be any online presence at all. I guess it has potential as something a few friends get together now and again to play, but it's too quiet if you're looking for something they can just pick up and hop into a server to play. After all, Steam's is a few months after its official launch.

But online paucity isn't a reason to dismiss the charms of Insane 2. And if I had a few more hours to spare, I would not be begrudging if I had to spend them unlocking cars and bombing around the tracks. There looks to be a lot of entertainment here.

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