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Platform

Playstation 2

 

Genre

Racing

 

Publisher

Electronic Arts

 

Developer

Criterion Games

 

ESRB

E (Everyone)

 

Released

September 13, 2005

 

 

- Everything that made Burnout 3 so awesome is back

- Improved graphics, with more varied and larger tracks

- Traffic checking is awesome

- Enhanced Crash Mode

 

 

- Traffic checking may make the game feel too simple

 

 

Review: Burnout 3: Takedown (PS2)

Review: Burnout 3: Takedown (XB)

Review: Burnout 2: Point of Impact Developer's Cut (XB)

 

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Burnout Revenge

Score: 9.4 / 10

The Internet tells me that New Jersey, my current state of residence, has the highest population density of anywhere in the country. Naturally, this spells for lots of cars in places where lots of cars should not be. Every day, I drive home from work, and am stuck in innumerable amounts of traffic on that hideous beast known as the Garden State Parkway. Every once in awhile, I get that urge to just slam the gas pedal and ram into every car in sight. Not for the sake of accomplishing anything. Just for the sake of being a jerk, really. Though I've not conducted any scientific studies of any sort, I'm going to go out on a limb and assume I am not the only person who feels this way.

 

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Most video games are content to let us live in a fantasy world, piloting ships through outer space or saving princesses or what have you. But even the Grand Theft Auto games rest in that area that is far away from our normal thought processes to be considered close to reality (unless you listen to Jack Thompson, but nobody listens to Jack Thompson.) Burnout takes urges so close to reality and puts it at your finger tips. No repair bills, no insurance premiums, no angry, road rage infested Jerseyans with crossbows in their trunks just an outlet of anger in a digital form.

 

This is why I consider Burnout Revenge to be one of the best videogames of this generation.

 

The more recent Burnout titles have been less about racing and more about crashing. One of the car selection screens actually dares you to "Choose Your Weapon," as if you were getting ready for some kind of holy war fought with Ferraris (except there are no real licenses, so you're really just driving knock-offs.) The basic gameplay is much the same, with several different events including Grand Prixes (a series of races), Eliminators (a variation on the "last man standing" routine, with lagging cars being dropped every thirty second), and the standard beat-the-clock races. Amongst the most enjoyable is still the Road Rage event, of which you simply find the most elegant ways to destroy all of your opponents by slamming them into walls, off bridges, or otherwise guiding them to destruction.

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So far, this seems just like last year's Burnout 3. At this point, it's almost too easy to be cynical of Electronic Art's yearly sequel machine.  So what could they actually do to make it better? The changes are, on paper, mostly subtle. In reality, they almost completely change the way the game is played. Players of any of the previous games will be quite familiar with the innocent bystander cars, which littered the road and pretty much never did anything but get in the way. Running into them usually meant that you'd crash, but that little issue 

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has been fixed in Burnout Revenge. Slam into almost any car and you'll send them flying forward, with nary a scratch on your hide. This leads to some ridiculously fun takedown possibilities, as flinging vehicles into your opponents becomes a major factor in victory. Suddenly, your arsenal has expanded to every other car on the road. This, naturally, is quite awesome.

 

This newfound power is also the key point in the new Traffic Check mode, which simply challenges you to ram into as many cars as possible. Again, this might sound simple, but it engages you to act completely opposite of your instinct to dodge everything. Getting high scores also requires checking cars into traffic in the other lane, something which actually takes quite a lot of skill.

 

Seeing as how you may feel like an invincible wave of mass destruction, you might think the game would be a bit too easy. To an extent, this is true on average, you'll probably be crashing far less in Revenge than you did in Burnout 3. However, you can't go around slamming into cars without a fair bit of caution. All of those destroyed vehicles tend to cloud your vision, and if you're not careful, you can still slam into the back of an 18-wheeler or a bus forces which still cause your mighty chariot to fall apart at the seams.

The courses themselves also prove more difficult, with more walls that seem to appear out of nowhere, and the artificial intelligence is much more aggressive than before.

 

Whenever you're taken down by an opponent, the camera pans away from your smoldering wreckage and focuses on the bastard who caused your demise. It smugly drives onward, not-so-subtly demanding that you should, in fact, bring it on. After you respawn, your new foe is highlighted by a red arrow. If you take him out, you get extra points. For a feature that made it into the game's title, the Revenge factor is hardly very important, but it does add a bit of personality to a game that's about cold, lifeless racing machines.

 

The point system is another area where Burnout Revenge differs from its predecessors. An onscreen meter drops continuously at a slow rate, but being aggressive will quickly cause the meter to rise, advancing from the ranks of "OK" to "Awesome". Your rank, combined with the medal you receive, will determine how many stars you get when you finish the face. Obtaining more stars is the only way to open new events.

 

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The other major overhaul affects the Crash mode. Originally, success depended almost solely on hitting the multiplier icons before causing pileups. This time, the game is a bit more strategic, as positioning yourself for the best possible traffic jam takes a bit of foresight. There are also plenty more opportunities to fling yourself off ramps and send your car flying through the air, which dramatically slows down as the force of gravity wails upon your car. While it's arguably better designed than the Crash Mode from Burnout 3, it's missing some of the simplicity, and the timing based start-up meter is unnecessary.

 

There are other little touches that enhance Burnout Revenge to make it stand above its predecessors. In later levels, you can use a Crashbreaker explosion after you've totaled yourself, potentially taking down all of the cars in the area. All of the stages have multiple routes, allowing for incredible replay value as you hunt for hidden shortcuts. There's also a lot more bridges and jumps, with a heavy emphasis on staying airborne. The first time you crush one of your opponents with a Vertical Takedown is a stunningly glorious sight, one of which awards you with one of many possible trophies.

 

While the graphics engine is essentially the same, you'll quickly notice that the game is much shinier perhaps the graphics programmers turned up the sun reflections just a bit too high. Despite its overbearing prevalence, it does look pretty damn cool. There's also a wider variety in locales one stage takes place on a Tokyo highway at night, while another seems to a dank industrial shipyard. There are still plenty of bright American highways, sprawling mountains and European villas, but the new landscapes are enough for Burnout Revenge to distinguish itself from its predecessors.  The music is once again a forgettable collection of licensed tracks, although they're rarely as abrasive as kiddy punk rock songs from Burnout 3. Still, even the better ones don't really go along with the action, as Burnout practically begs to use heavy metal or hard techno as its background music. Again, the Xbox version is preferable just for the customizable soundtracks, but other than the shorter load times, that's the only real advantage of the two versions.

 

Stalwart fans may dislike the changes, and while it does make the game a bit easier, I'd venture to say that it still makes the game more exciting. With its extensive list of events and near unlimited replay value, Burnout Revenge still maintains the visceral carnage that fans (and angered commuters) everywhere have come to expect.

 

- Kurt Kalata

(October 3, 2005)

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