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Playstation 2









Criterion Games



E (Everyone)



Q4 2002



- Offensive Driving 101 in a Student Driver car? Freakin’ awesome!

- One of the best pick-up and play titles in recent memory

- Excellent looking graphics and car models

- Progressive Scan TV supported



- Not a simulation-style game (no specific cars, no adjustments to existing ones)

- Can’t play with some of the best features (Pursuit mode) until you progress significantly in the Championship mode  



Review: Burnout (Gamecube)



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Burnout 2: Point of Impact

Score: 8.7 / 10

Crashing is inevitable… much like taxes. The latest racing offering from Acclaim and Criterion Games, namely Burnout 2, takes street racing to your home -- as opposed to actual street racing in your home which isn’t encouraged as it could break your stuff, ruin carpets, and generally increase your insurance premiums -- and gives you the opportunity to drive like a maniac for fun -- as opposed to those who do it naturally.


burnout-2-1.jpg (30167 bytes)          burnout-2-2.jpg (36402 bytes)


Burnout 2 (B2) is a sequel to the disturbingly fun Burnout (redundant, I know) where you are offered 5 modes of play in the pursuit of new cars, new tracks, and general mayhem. For the uninitiated, Burnout is a street racing series where you are compete against up to 5 opponents in a race in regular traffic. As you can guess, there are going to be a TON of crashes as you dart between cars and run red lights.


B2 cleverly avoids lawsuits and patent/franchising fees by featuring “makes” of cars as opposed to specific brands of models (people might be a tad traumatized to realize that they just wrapped their Dodge Viper around that light-pole). Some might find it annoying that they can’t chose a specific car and modify it, but I feel that it works better with the title’s “pick-up and play” feel.





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The game play is simplicity itself: brake, accelerator, gearshift (for those who hate automatic vehicles), and turbo. The turbo is accessible only once the meter has been completely filled, and filling it is more fun than using it. Turbo is gained by driving aggressively – driving on the wrong side of the road, passing cars closely, power sliding in curves (accelerating through a curve such that you weave across your lane), and catching air. (Why else would you want to drive in San Francisco?)



One of my favorite features is the tutorial called “Offensive Driving 101” where you are taken through a list of all of the best techniques for getting ahead. (Where else can you drive like a maniac in a Student Driver car?)


The game features 5 modes of play: Championship, Multiplayer, Time Trial, Pursuit and Crash. The first 3 modes names’ are self-explanatory so I’ll skip the description, but Crash mode holds the distinction of being one of the more clever play modes that I’ve ever seen in a racing game.


At its base level the objective of Crash mode is to maximize the damage (in dollars) to the cars at some location – you are only given one crash at the location and you have a multiplier, which increases the damage depending upon the number of cars that you involve in the carnage. Needless to say, the strategy for those levels is to try and set up a nasty flip-over that will contact 2-3 cars that will then run into additional cars (tip:aim expensive).


The Pursuit mode is a not-so-typical race between a police officer and a suspect – the law (that’s you) tries to crash the suspect. Unfortunately, this mode is only opened after some progression through the Championship mode.


Championship mode is a series of 3 races against the same group of people. You try to finish with the most points through the circuit. Winning races in this mode will open tracks for the other modes, as well as open Challenge levels (these are races against a single opponent, usually for the chance to use that car). As you can imagine, the versus and time trial modes are a little thin unless you’ve been playing the Championship mode for a while.


burnout-2-3.jpg (29949 bytes)          burnout-2-4.jpg (33964 bytes)


B2 looks spectacular!  B2 features play designed for Progressive Scan TVs -- the game looks great there but comes out top-notch even on regular TVs with some smooth car polygons and superb scenery. The cars themselves are mostly inflexible to modification, leaving color as the only selectable option for the gamer but this simplifies that the only way to adjust auto-characteristics is to choose a different make of car. For example: sports cars have a tendency to have a higher top speed than say a sedan, but the weight difference will have a significant effect during a high speed curve (especially if you’re going to be able to maintain tire traction or going to slide/fishtail out of the curve). Even more impressive is the way that the game approximates depth and speed blurring; anyone who has driven REALLY FAST (I wouldn’t know…. I never speed….) knows that you become susceptible to “tunnel vision” where the periphery of the vision becomes blurred and it becomes more difficult to make out shapes and distances than at regular/reasonable speeds. This effect is present throughout the game, and first-time players will take a few games before they become accustomed to the view, as it is really prevalent when the turbo boost is used. Not only is your reaction time drastically reduced, but your vision is also crippled at the same time making the length of time that you’re using boost more dangerous the longer that you’re at speed.


The sound is adequate; however, for the most part I can’t recall the soundtrack of this game over the visuals and sound effects. (I don’t mean to slight the composers of the score, it’s just that I can’t recall any feelings either way…) Gameplay is really addictive, and I don’t recommend that you play this game for any significant amount of time before you drive a car or operate heavy machinery. (I still can’t believe what I was doing on the road after an extended session!) Because the game is just so immersive at times that you’re going to find yourself losing touch with reality momentarily.


The gaming AI is a real treat as well. For once, the computer acts very much like a human at times, especially when trailing in a race and the drones begin driving more aggressively and taking more significant chances (therefore, more likely to crash). It’s nice to have a game where the AI screws up once in a while.


All in all, Burnout 2: Point of Impact is a really fun racing game that will appeal more to the casual racing gamer and party atmosphere than to the simulation gamer.


- Tazman

(November 10, 2002)

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