Video Game Rentals Delivered

Burnout Revenge

David Yun (Xbox Live Gamertag - Vawce) David Yun (Xbox Live Gamertag - Vawce): (contact-deleteme[at]-deleteme-direman [dot] com) 2008-02-07 12:28:50

Burnout Revenge - Rank B

Developer: Criterion Games
Publisher: Electronic Arts
Date: 3/7/06

Also available for PlayStation 2 and Xbox

Burnout 3: Takedown is the best arcade-style racer. Ever. So how do you make a sequel to a game that doesn't require any further refinement? You can either take it back to the drawing board in an effort to innovate an entirely new take on it, or tinker with existing gameplay by introducing a new element or two. Burnout Revenge is the latter, and the adjustments to its chemistry resulted in a weaker product. This is further compounded by the fact that Revenge wasn't built from ground up for the Xbox 360, but was ported over from the original Xbox version. Nevertheless, Revenge is only one step down from greatness, which is still good.

For those of you who have never played a Burnout game, they're about two things: speed and crashes. Remember playing with Hot Wheels or Matchbox cars, pretending they were flying along at VROOOM speeds, only to meet a fiery cataclysmic demise? Burnout is that childhood joy as a videogame. You blaze down highways at blindingly ridiculous speeds while weaving perilously through traffic. The boost meter fills as you pull off risky moves such as power slides, near misses with other cars, driving into oncoming traffic, or trashing your opponent racers. And when you activate that hard earned turbo, the sense of speed is like when Artoo fixed the Millennium Falcon's hyperdrive.

Then in the blink of an eye, with the slightest miscue of the controller, a crash will smack you like a good solid boot to the face. You get a brief, frozen snapshot of the collision whenever you take down one of your opponents. Should you crash, you can explode your "crash breaker" in an attempt to catch any of your opponents in the blast. The feel and sound of this is awesome. "Psssh...crkBOOOM!" The resulting shrieking wreckage of mangled metal and shattered glass shaking your controller and speakers is as glorious as they were in your childhood imaginings.

This powers the other major attraction of Burnout - crash mode. You plow into a busy intersection in an attempt to create the wickedest pileup you can. "Psssh...crkBOOOM!" goes the crash breaker, setting off another chain reaction of collisions. If you've ever seen the Blues Brothers, the pileup of police cars in the final chase is crash mode's kid brother. On a scale of one to ten, crash mode scores a nine-point-throwing-toy-cars-at-a-pile-of-other-toy-cars in terms of satisfaction.

The new aspect to Burnout Revenge is traffic checking. Previously, if you slammed into traffic from behind, you'd be toasted in the crash. Now, unless it's a massive bus or big rig, you send the car flying. The idea is to send the target vehicle into the path of one of your opponents. This sounds like a good idea on paper, but isn't really all that cool in practice. Traffic checking causes the bumped car to fly off as if weightless. Despite the fact that Burnout is a ridiculously unrealistic game, this is such an extreme violation of physics that it strains the suspension of disbelief. As long as you stay on the correct side of the road, you can just plow through cars, tossing them like salad. This removes the tension of weaving through traffic that drove previous Burnouts, turning Revenge into a mind numbing exercise in aggression.

The requisite online play is solid, and also allows you to upload clips of your slickest driving or most impressive crashes.

Burnout Revenge is a ton of fun. It delivers speed like only Burnout can, at an amazingly unflinching 60 frames per second. The crashes are visceral and explosive, and they're always your fault, as the controls are precise and responsive. Ultimately, however, unless you simply must have that next-gen graphical sheen, I'd recommend tracking down a copy of Burnout 3: Takedown for the original Xbox instead (it's backward compatible on the 360).

[Edit: Burnout 3: Takedown is now available for download as an Xbox Original from Live Marketplace.]

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