So there I am, racing down the wrong side of an eight-lane highway, splitting the oncoming traffic with surgical precision. The power-enhancing Adrenaline Meter creeps higher with every near miss until it's finally full. I hold down the button for a boost that propels me to hair-raising speeds as the traffic turns to a blur. Holy cow--I can honestly say Burnout provides the most intense street-racing rush I've ever experienced in a video game. Not since Need For Speed: High Stakes has a racer gotten me so pumped. If delivering a potent thrill was the only criterion for greatness, Burnout would score a 9. But for those who like variety, this one will leave you hungry for stuff like licensed cars, more tracks and most importantly, more modes. While I'm at it, how about throwing in a cop or two to chase you? Or maybe some creative shortcuts to spice up the courses? You get the idea. Burnout is a fantastic one-trick pony, but because it doesn't have a large variety of play modes, you'll only return for the adrenaline rush. Hopefully the sequel will be beefier.
If it's an arcade racing you are after, you might as well have died and gone to heaven because Burnout is one of the most arcade-like racers I have seen on any console to date. This game is all about weaving in and out of traffic just waiting for that big crash (and believe me, it will happen soon enough). The game moves at speeds best described as oh-my-that-is-freakin'-fast and this does not even take into account the burn boost.
This game was ported over from the PS2 and although I never had the opportunity to play that version, I'm pretty confident the PS2 is not pumping out the same graphics as the Xbox version. At first glance, I was not overly impressed, but the more I played, the more I noticed the incredible details as well as the awesome feeling of speed.
As I mentioned above, the burn boost takes the speed to eye-pooping levels by distorting the screen in a graphical effect that really has to be seen to appreciate. Even at these frenetic paces, the frame rate never falters even slightly. In a word'amazing.
When all is said and done, Burnout is a decent title which will appeal to the arcade racing fan and casual gamer. Pop it in when your non-gamer friends come over and they will have a blast flying around the corners smashing into 18-wheelers and tour buses. However, if the Xbox version of Test Drive matches the PS2 version of Test Drive, I would pick it over Burnout hands down. But if arcade racing is your thing, you should be happy with this game.
Burnout, the new driving game for PlayStation 2 from Acclaim, is set to take racing junkies on a high-speed run through traffic. With multiple cars to select and race, over 300 vehicles to interact with and the most realistic crashes of any racing title, even the most hardened thrill seeker will get a major adrenalin boost. This isn't just racing -- this is driving at its most fun. Dodge and weave through traffic at top speed, racing your opponents for the finish line, but be vigilant or you're going to end up scattered across several lanes of traffic.
Gameplay, Controls, Interface
Many racing games put you on a clean track or cleared streets where it's only you and your opponents. Burnout is set in locations that are based loosely on several US and European cities with streets packed with traffic. You and your opponents weave through oncoming traffic, blast through red lights, and play chicken with oncoming traffic. But be careful -- one wrong move and you're headline news as part of a nineteen car pileup.
Like many other titles, Burnout is checkpoint-based. You not only must beat your opponents, you must beat the clock. There are five modes of play: championship, single race, time attack, head-to-head, and a 'specials'? mode with extra challenges like the survival mode where you have to complete a course without crashing. Championship and single race modes put you against three opponents, with six events and over eighteen tracks. As you progress you face both more skilled opponents with better cars as well as more difficult requirements. For example, you start out having to place in the top three to continue, but later challenges may require three consecutive first place wins to continue to the next event.
The AI behind the normal traffic is very well done. Cars react to your driving by at high speed with realistic swerving. Other drivers will try to avoid collisions with varying degrees of success, but none of them show unrealistic reaction times. I had more fun trying to get the other cars into a position where I could cause multi-car pileups and rack up the damage cost than just winning the races. The one drawback is that the AI can become predictable after playing for a while.
In most racing games, accidents are brief interruptions in the action, quickly skipped over. Not so in Burnout -- each accident earns you several slow motion replays from different angles. You can also hop into a player controlled replay mode and watch the crash in slow motion with 360-degree control of a camera. And you're not just replaying the crashes, each one earns you a damage total that can gain you a spot on the damage high score board.
There are two important things that a racing game must provide graphically. Detail is of course vital, but too much detail at the sacrifice of smooth framerate will kill any game. Racing games in particular must provide a smooth sense of speed during play. Burnout manages to balance things nicely. The graphics aren't the best you'll see on the PS2, but they get the job done and the game never seems to slow down or lag behind the control. The car models are detailed and there are plenty of them. Vehicles of all sorts crowd the freeways and streets. The scenery is rich -- trees, bushes, and signposts line the freeway stretches, while the city streets have everything you'd expect -- newspaper kiosks, lights, benches, and storefronts are all present.
When it comes to the realism of the crashes in Burnout the graphics only take you so far. What really makes them fun is the satisfying crunch of metal on metal as glass shatters and tires squeal. The rest of the effects work well too, though if you're looking for the perfect engine noise you'll have to look elsewhere (the engine effects in Burnout are good, but don't compare to the realism of titles like GT3).
There's not anything earth-shatteringly new in Burnout, but overall it's a lot of fun to play. Going at 95 down the center of the wrong side of the freeway while cars dodge left and right is a lot of fun, topped only by the carnage when you make a mistake and end up plowing into one of them head-on. What it most reminds me of is Tokyo Xtreme Racer mixed with Crazy Taxi. Most players will probably finish up the single player mode in six to eight hours of play, but there's plenty of entertainment to make it worthwhile for racing fans looking for something different.
Arcade racers on consoles have often been a tough sell, as what makes them a success in the arcade doesn't directly translate to success on a console. In an arcade for instance, depth of gameplay and various modes of play are pointless since the game will probably be completed within two or three minutes. On the console however, if the entire game can be completed in a week and replaying it doesn't offer any new experience, there isn't much motivation to buy it when renting it will probably give the same benefits.
Unfortunately Burnout, although offering a unique racing experience, suffers from these same drawbacks. Set around racing through busy streets and crowded cities, Burnout rewards tremendous crashes as you weave through traffic at breakneck speeds, through hectic intersections, and even on the wrong side of the road. With a few options for gameplay, the attempt was made to increase the game's longevity, but unless you plan on it being used for two player options only, most will grow tired of it in a week or two.
Besides the problems of porting an arcade style game to a console, Burnout is a fast paced game that will impress with its attention to physics and reactive AI. You'll notice cars flipping and crashing with great accuracy when compared to an actual car wreck and the cars handle similar to real ones with skidding and spinouts happening at points where you would expect.
Besides the solid physics engine, the AI is impressive as well with driver characteristics that seem closer to actual human reactions than computer controlled machines. You'll see them swerve out of the way, try to avoid a traffic wreck, and even spend more time trying to maneuver around you than pay attention to the road ahead of them.
Overall, Burnout is still a great arcade game and if you enjoy that style at home as well, Burnout will meet you expectations. With respectable graphics and audio capabilities, it'll at least make a good rental but buyers should be cautious.
While I'm sure GameCube owners might prefer some more exclusive games on their system, at least having good PS2 ports means there's something worth playing. Take Burnout, for example. True, you won't find any major improvements, exclusive levels or new cars in this GC version. What you do get, however, is a solid little racing game that gets your pulse pounding as you dart through congested streets in competition with three other opponents. The sense of speed is incredible, especially once you get the Adrenaline (read: boost) Meter filled up and kick it into overdrive. You'll find yourself holding your breath as you approach busy intersections at breakneck speeds, knowing the only thing keeping you from a 12-car pileup (and losing the lead) is a little skill and a lot of luck. Not that you'd ever think of slowing down, of course. Burnout keeps the competition so close that any weenie who takes his foot off the gas is guaranteed to lose. Normally I don't like that sort of setup, but it works well here. Now if the game were only a bit longer....