Burnout Revenge Review

Developer: Criterion Games Publisher: EA
Release Date: September 13, 2005 Also On: PS2 and Xbox

Burnout Revenge is the fourth installment in the Burnout franchise. Burnout originally came out across all current-generation platforms in 2002 as an Acclaim flagship. Burnout 2: Point of Impact was a step in the right direction for the franchise, but it wasn’t until 2004’s Burnout 3: Takedown that the franchise received the credit that it has long deserved. Now, under the guidance of Electronic Arts, Burnout is arguably the most respected non-sim racing franchise available on the market.

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Part of the reason for its respect comes from its beauty. Have you ever looked at someone and gained respect just based on their appearance? Well, while I’m not that gullible, Burnout has always been a franchise that not only has the good looks, but also has a personality that you’ve got to love. The break-neck speed, the well-polished cars, the slick streets, and the oncoming traffic make this a gorgeous sight. I must mention, however, that the soundtrack from Revenge is a step down from Burnout 3.

The game itself takes place over a large number of courses, spanning the greater United States, into Europe and Asia. The previews that we all read focused mainly on the down and dirty racing in Motor City (Detroit). Dilapidated buildings, industrial wasteland, and lots of semis make up this virtual city. If you’ve ever been to downtown Detroit though (any All-Star Game attendees out there?), the game’s recreation feels like a fantasy; it’s more like Gary, Indiana.

Among the other dignitaries are a similarly ghettoized Los Angeles, lush waterway races through Miami, a historic race through Rome, etc. Gone are the immensely populated streets of the downtown Chicago track from Burnout 3, where cruising along the metallic train line beams could prove hazardous; in are back-alleyways, and whatever shortcuts you can come by, whether through the Los Angeles man-made cement river system, or through industrial buildings in Detroit. By the way, L.A.’s in every game these days; stop with the West Coast bias already!

The single player experience in Burnout Revenge (World Tour) plays out a lot like Burnout 3, with snazzier cut-scenes, and slightly more differentiation between races. This time instead of an overworld map, which I hated from Burnout 3, it’s been replaced with an easily maneuverable bar of ten different ranks. You’ll start at Rank 1, where X courses are available and X races in the courses.

Through each race, you’ll earning a rating of “OK�, “Good�, “Great�, or “Awesome�. Ratings are determined by your speed, your aggression, use of nitro, etc. So while you might want to be the first person to reach the goal, how you get there and what you do to get there will determine what rating you receive. With each rating, an award is issued (Bronze, Silver, Gold), determined by speed, number of takedowns, etc.

Gold awards combined with anything will move your rating up one place, so “Good� becomes “Great�, “Great� becomes “Awesome�, and “Awesome� becomes “Perfect�. Your overall rating will be the deciding factor in how many stars you get, which in-turn will unlock new events, new rides, and new ranks. With, say 20 stars, you can unlock the next rank early on, but later it’ll be more than 50 stars per rank.

The modes where you earn these stars consist of seven different variants. Burning Lap is a race where you complete a lap in a given time. Traffic Attack, a new mode, has you check traffic, causing as much damage as possible in the given time. Race is two laps against six competing opponents. Crash’s sole purpose is to ensure as much damage (valued in cash) as possible at a given intersection. Road Rage has you meet a certain Takedown target. Grand Prix is a series of three races, earning points for your place in each race. The racer with the most points at the end of the GP wins. Finally there’s Elimination, where the last place car of six is eliminated every 30 seconds. There are also Crashbreaker events for Race, Road Rage, and Eliminator, which allow you to explode your car if you crash, depending on if you have speed boost.

Next is the Multi-Player mode, with two-player split-screen options or six player pass-the-control options, as well as online modes. The modes available for multi-player are Race, Road Rage, Traffic Attack, Crash Battle, Crash Party, and Crash Tour. Most allow you to select a vehicle, a location, a track, etc. I’ve noticed two glaring problems with the multi-player, both being game modes. Traffic Attack’s problem is the goal; the player with the most damage (in terms of cash) wins, with the problem being that if one player gets a jump on the traffic, he or she will leave little, if any, traffic for the opponent. The same can be said for Crash Battle, where one person will likely monopolize all of the traffic damage.

“There are quite a few moments where I said, ‘that was close’. This is the first racing game where I’ve found myself stunned when I missed hitting a bus by a few inches,� I said about Burnout 3 last year. There are a few moments in Revenge where I felt the same way, but the frequency of that has been dramatically decreased by your access to side routes, even though the computer AI seems more aggressive this year. One of the biggest assets that this franchise had was the “holy crap, I can’t believe I missed that� factor. That’s pretty much gone in Burnout Revenge.

While some of the white-knuckle panic play might be gone, there is a greater sense of speed in Burnout Revenge. Some of the vehicles in this game will max out at over 200 MPH, burning those wheels around corners like the Batmobile. There are some new things added to the mix this year, namely same-lane traffic hitting. You can now use same-lane traffic to gain an advantage as both a torpedo, hitting them into opponents, a wall, slamming opponents into parallel traffic, or as a means to gain boost. It’s your call. Aside from traffic takedowns, there’s also a vertical takedown this year, meaning you can crash down on a foe from a ramp, from a higher leveled highway, etc.

Last year’s Burnout 3: Takedown was the hands-down best racing game of 2004 and of the generation as a whole. The development team for Burnout Revenge had a tough task going into 2005, approximately a year after Takedown, and transforming the genre once again. The result is a competently crafted sequel that, unlike its predecessor, does not revolutionize the way we play racers. Instead, it builds upon, and improves upon in many ways, what already existed last year. As it is, Burnout Revenge is a solid effort by Criterion, given the time restraints that were pressed upon them by corporate management. Until the next-generation effort of Burnout, which I do hope is a ground-breaking experience, you’re assured a splendid good time with Burnout Revenge.

Graphics: 10
Sound: 8
Gameplay: 9
Creativity: 8
Replay Value/Game Length: 10
Final: 9
Written by Kyle Review Guide

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