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Platform

Xbox

 

Genre

Racing

 

Publisher

Electronic Arts

 

Developer

Criterion Games

 

ESRB

E +10 (Everyone)

 

Released

Q3 2005

 

 

- Improved graphics, especially vehicle models
- An intense sense of blistering speed; may be the fastest racing game today
- Tons of different goals to accomplish and a multitude of unlockable content

 

 

- Connecting to Xbox Live games wasn't always easy, particularly with races
- Longer than necessary rewind on crash levels
- Extended playing sessions may cause carpal tunnel syndrome
- Generic cars once again

 

 

Reviews: Burnout 3: Takedown (Xbox)

Review: Brunout 2: Point of Impact Director's Cut (Xbox)

Review: MotorStorm: Pacific Rift (PS3)

 

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Burnout Revenge

Score: 9.2

 

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Revenge is a dish best served cold - unless it's dished out in Burnout Revenge, Electronic Arts new update of the Burnout franchise. Then revenge is best served by scorching hot, blisteringly fast vehicular mayhem on sizzling asphalt during torching races more concerned with smashing and crashing cars than crossing the finish line first.

The developers at Criterion treat gamers once again with the most innovative racing title around. The Burnout series is a racing game, but the heart of the gameplay isn't racing against other drivers, trying to garner the checkered flag (although that's one of the many different game modes in the game). Instead, the game focuses on smashing the hell out of cars. It's not who finishes first; it's who finishes first and destroys the most competing cars. And in Burnout Revenge, the Burnout formula is comprised of blistering speed, annihilation of motor vehicles and causing massive auto wrecks. It generally goes completely against the grain of the

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typical racing game, which advocates staying away from crashing into other cars. Instead, Burnout Revenge completely encourages hitting each and every car you find in your path of automotive chaos.

The last time I played a Burnout title was Burnout 2, and the dramatic jump in not only the look of the game, but the improved gameplay and sheer amount of modes and unlockable content is amazing. While Burnout

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2 was a sharp-looking game, it's clear that Criterion has adeptly learned all the tricks necessary to get the most out of the graphic capabilities of current consoles that are in the latter stage of their lifespan. The cars are beautifully rendered in Burnout Revenge, the equal of what's presented in Gran Turismo or Need for Speed games. The levels that you'll be driving through at blazing speeds seem to be just as well maintained visually as the cars, but since the roads and cities just blur by while you're driving it's really hard to tell definitively how good they really are visually. This is by far the fastest racing game out there, with an intensity of speed you'll encounter in no other racing game today.

One real negative is that once again the cars and even the roadways and cities you are driving don't really exist - everything you drive and everywhere you drive are totally fictitious creations of Criterion. The only feature you can even change on a car is its color.

Guess not too many car companies wanted to be affiliated with a game that encourages 100% road-raging, vehicle destruction; nor is any city going to be too happy being subjected to being labeled as a haven for races of revenge and demolition. On top of that, the explosions of twisted car metal are the best around (although Sega's next-generation title, Full Auto, looks like it will obliterate that when it appears on the Xbox 360 this winter).

Sounds of the game are done well, but all the cars start to sound almost the same after a while, especially since the cars are motoring at nitro-induced speeds and sound just like a jet fighter boosting its afterburners. Since EA is now the publisher of Burnout Revenge, the same type of soundtrack that you'll hear in most EA Sports titles pops up in Burnout Revenge, with plenty of fast-rocking tunes to get your blood boiling and fuel your fire for roadway revenge.

The underlying gameplay of the ultimate road rage dream-come-true of thrashing other cars to your heart's content is what Burnout Revenge is all about. There are a ton of different styles of game modes, including races against other cars or even just the clock. But the main theme of each Burnout Revenge is to get to the final goal, and crashing into every other car in the race or in the traffic flow is highly encouraged along every inch of the asphalt battlefield. The most fun mode again is the Crash Event, where your only aspiration is to hurl down a road into traffic as the ultimate auto weapon, intent on causing the most severe damage via a massive traffic accident initiated by your ride. The one annoying aspect of the Crash mode is that if you fail to record a medal-winning score, the "rewind" back to the starting point from the failed crash scene can be annoyingly longer than seems necessary.

 

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Other modes have been added that exponentially increase their respective fun quotient too. The new addition that's the most entertaining is the Traffic Attack, where your objective is to smash into as many cars as possible. The new strategy of "checking" traffic out of your way and also into other traffic for points is a lot of devilishly good fun, a new guilty pleasure in the racing game genre (just like the hockey move it sounds like: "check" into other vehicles with the sole intention of causing them to wreck and get checked out of your path). There are a total of eight modes available in Burnout Revenge, more than you would expect, and all with some level of revenge to extract in their gameplay element.

This is a long-lasting game too. There are so many new cars, levels, stats, and trophies to unlock throughout the seemingly hundreds of varied racing roads and environments of Burnout Revenge. There's so many unlockables throughout the game, that in my greed and obsession to collect and unlock as much as possible over extended playing sessions, I actually developed a case of carpal tunnel syndrome that required me to not play a video game of any kind for three whole days. Alongside the addictive nature of unlocking every little secret the game has, Burnout Revenge's gameplay is totally intense and possesses a relatively strong control schematic that keeps you on the track and in full control of your vehicle even at speeds at over 200 mph and is forgiving when you impact into environmental obstacles if you are effectively controlling your driving (although there are times when it's the exact opposite, when a seemingly innocuous collision will result in a total annihilation of your car).

There is an online mode for Burnout Revenge over Xbox Live, but I was disappointed in the fact that I had all kinds of issues properly connecting to race competitions, for no apparent reason. I did have overwhelming success joining Crash Party games, however, that are more enjoyable and competitive than straightforward race competitions.

The schizophrenic online play was a bit of a letdown, but if you like barreling into cars at insane speeds then Burnout Revenge is exactly the sizzling ride you've been looking for. It holds its own as a traditional racer in the Need for Speed and Midnight Club vein, but the brilliant twist of the encouragement to crash cars for gaming pleasure and reward pushes the petal to the metal and zooms Burnout Revenge past the average racing game. For those who haven't tried out a Burnout game, Burnout Revenge is the best yet. Burnout veterans will have enough new features, and of course, the allure of unlocking more and more tracks and cars while going for the gold medal and in-game trophies as plenty enough reason to get Burnout Revenge.

- Lee Cieniawa
lcieniawa@armchairempire.com

(October 12, 2005)

 

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