Title: Truck Dismount (Rekkaturvat)
Developer: tAAt (http://taat.fi/)
Publisher: tAAt
Date Published: 2003
Platforms: PC (Microsoft Windows)

Truck Dismount is the sequel to the horribly addictive software toy Porrasturvat (Stair Dismount), developed by the Finnish demogroup tAAt. The game presents a scene reminiscent of the crash tests used to evaluate the safety of new car models. A truck has been rigged up to drive head-on into a concrete wall. The driver (a dummy, if it makes you feel better about it) is seated in the cabin of the truck, without a seatbelt. The object of the game (as with Porrasturvat before it) is to arrange the scene in such a way that when the truck is set in motion, the resulting collision causes as much physical damage to the driver as possible. The motions of the truck and the driver are calculated using a highly realistic 'hard body' physics simulation.

To make things more interesting, there are a number of variables that can be modified that are probably not standard practice in real-life crash tests. Two shallow ramps can be placed in the path of the truck, and their horizontal and vertical positioning on the floor adjusted (for instance, to line them up with the left or right set of wheels on the truck). The starting speed of the truck can be adjusted (worryingly, slower speeds sometimes resulting in more severe damage in the same situation), and the windshield can be removed (allowing the driver to be thrown clear more easily). Finally, the 'dummy' can be placed in one of six starting locations (in the cabin, on the roof of the cabin, on the roof of the trailer, on the bonnet, standing directly in front of the truck, or standing midway between the wall and the truck), with his position to the left or right of the truck adjustable on a sliding scale. Once the scene is set up to the player's satisfaction, hitting the Dismount button causes the truck to set off on its fateful course. The scene can be viewed from a choice of seven camera angles, allowing the player to get a clear picture of what happened.

If the player manages to inflict a large amount of damage on the driver, they are invited to enter their name for a high score table. Truck Dismount's local high score table has a handy new replay feature, allowing players to watch their most successful crashes again. The game also has an online ranking system which keeps track of the best scores submitted in the past 24 hours. (As I write this the world number one score is over five million points, suggesting that, as with Porrasturvat, people have found ways to exploit bugs or cheat at the game.)

It might cross ones mind (after spending twenty minutes or so tweaking your ramps to prevent the driver being thrown clear too soon) that there's something rather cruel about these Dismount games. I certainly wonder about the kind of mentality that dreams up games like this, although mostly I'm wondering what the next situation tAAt's hapless virtual stuntman finds himself in will be.


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