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2: Point of Impact - Developer's Cut
Score: 8.9 / 10
The usual formula for capturing the
checkered flag in racing video games is simple: apply effective braking
and acceleration techniques and above all else, avoid crashing into
anything. Well, in the newest arcade racer, Burnout 2: Point of Impact:
Developerís Cut (PoI) for the Xbox, that formula takes a totally twisted
U-turn. Flying in the face of racing game convention, PoIís Crash mode
actually encourages crunching metal mayhem. The goal? Create the biggest
and most spectacular car pileup possible by speeding no-fear into
traffic patterns. The more cars you can get to crash, the bigger score
you will get. Even better, the online leaderboard ranking through Xbox
Live lets you see how your best crashes stack up against the world of
An unique and fantastic Crash mode really saves PoI from being just
another average arcade racer, because the Championship mode is nothing
ordinary with a slight challenge level and
doesnít even have any kind of car licensing that nearly every racing
game has nowadays. With a varied track selection filled with plenty of
hazardous intersection crossings chock-full of traffic, simple-to-master
driving controls, and a thrilling amount of velocity via the burnout
turbo boost, PoI more than makes up for its lack of a serious challenge
and other minor shortcomings.
Again, on the surface, PoI is nothing more than the average arcade racer
that gives you a handful of vehicles on the gameís 30 track levels
pitted against competition in a quest for driving supremacy and a gold
medal or two along the way in the Championship mode. Thereís also the
usual Time Attack mode. Ho hum. Ho hum.
Even worse, thereís nary a real vehicle to be found in PoI, which
doesnít have a official car or truck license to its credit, although a
few of the vehicles have a sneaky resemblance to actual manufacturer
creations, including a Dodge Viper clone. That lack of license also
applies to an incredibly bad and non-descript soundtrack, which doesnít
feature even one song heard on a radio station playlist. But at least
that issue can be rectified by taking advantage of the Xboxís custom
soundtrack feature, and I strongly recommend ripping some good driving
tunes to your Xbox to get your gaming motor running.
PoI is supposed to feature Xbox-enhanced visuals, and although the
graphical presentation is up to snuff, it doesnít come near the quality
seen in such Xbox racers as Project Gotham Racing and RalliSport
Challenge. A Pursuit Race, which involves a chase in a police car of a
breaking-the-law speeder brings some of the better ďracingĒ seen in PoI,
but again, it has been done already a couple of times over. Other
Xbox-only goodies include 21 additional car skins and more crash
junctions for car carnage.
After that, the comparison to the average arcade racer start to end and
PoI kicks into high gear, beginning with Offensive Driving 101 and
carrying over to the Crash mode. Offensive Driving 101 instructs you how
to be a driver with reckless abandon and teaches the finer points of
scoring in the game and how to build up a turbo boost.
A burnout, the inspiration for the gameís name, is done by driving
within near-miss proximity to not only traffic in the right-of-way, but
also highly encouraged against the grain of opposing traffic flow. Once
you start the turbo, youíll be thrown into a thrilling speed boost. You
get credit for a burnout if you are able to drive for the entire
temporary time limit of the burnout staying on the road without
colliding with any other vehicle or road hazard. If you can keep totally
free of any type of devastation, you will keep the burnout going. With
all the many vehicular hazards, itís not as easy as it sounds. The
highest string of burnouts Iíve been able to accumulate is three.
Thereís also an Xbox Live leaderboard for total burnouts in a row.
Once the basics of offending driving is mastered in an undertaking
similar to Gran Turismoís license mode, you will unlock the Crash mode.
Without question, Crash mode is the highlight of PoI as death-defying
driving reaches new heights. The premise is easy: drive into a heavy
traffic pattern and cause a major smash-up. The bigger the crash, the
bigger your score will be. Thereís a gold/silver/bronze medal award
system based on the point total. Your scores in the Crash mode can be
uploaded onto the online leaderboard with Xbox Live, so even if you have
a big-scoring crash, thereís always an incentive to try and do better if
someone out there has a better score on a particular junction.
When you first initiate a crash, PoI goes into a slow-motion camera mode
that follows the disastrous automobile destruction youíve produced in
the great crash animations. PoI features an impressive physics engine,
so all the smashing, bending, twisting, and crunching happen in an
extremely realistic manner. Glass, tires, and various other car parts
explode every which way. (Kind of reminds me of the scene in the
original Blues Brothers movie when thereís that huge pileup of police
vehicles on the highway.) This is an E-rated game, though, so it doesnít
get too graphically violent. Donít expect driverís body parts to come
hurtling through windshields and splatter on the roadway.
This may sound a little crazy, but as much as I enjoy smashing cars in
the Crash mode, Iím a little disappointed that the crashes arenít more
explosive. There are big rigs that get caught in the mayhem including
those pulling loads of recently cut logs and even gasoline tankers. But
the logs never spill off the trailer and the tankers never explode. Now
that would have made for some serious crashing chaos.
Those slow-motion crash animations in the championship mode can get
distracting. Every time you hit something youíre not supposed to such as
other vehicles or objects, a slow-motion crash animation showing your
vehicle being destroyed kicks in. But you will quickly adjust to its
occurrence and with a quick re-spawning with your car miraculously
Christine-fixed, it doesnít really interfere with your gameplay.
Helping complete the ease of driving of PoI is the gameís control setup.
Accelerating, braking, drifting through sharp curves, and igniting the
burnout all are a summer breeze. Not having to worry about PoIís driving
mechanics means you can concentrate on enjoying the sensational smashing
fun of the game.
Hell-bent on destruction psycho drivers finally get a game to meet their
rubbernecking tendencies full throttle. PoIís Crash mode is a
high-revving great ride, and having an Xbox Live ranking system in place
gives PoI a huge amount of replayability. If arcade racing in the
tradition of the Need for Speed series is what gets your motor running,
then burn, baby, burn an asphalt inferno with PoI.