Burnout Revenge (Xbox) review
"As the game’s title suggests, revenge is a common theme. The ‘Takedown’ has returned from the last game, but now it’s all about evening the score. If another racer plows into your side and sends you spiraling into a concrete slab, the screen incites you to have your revenge. When you succeed, your boost meter grows. Races become that much more thrilling."
Imagine this: you’re driving home from work some evening and suddenly everything clicks. The streets are a blur, the signs overhead just flashes of green that vanish almost immediately. Taillights ahead are red specks in the growing dusk, visible one moment and gone the next. You’re not driving; you’re flying. A quick turn to the left and you’re charging oncoming traffic, weaving between headlights until the next curve finds you in your own lane once more. You escape unscathed and there’s a growing rush of adrenaline. Nothing can touch you. Not caring where you’re going, you just keep driving as if the brake pedal doesn’t even exist. Your car is a part of you, an extension so natural that losing it would be like giving up an arm. The feeling is one of a kind. The feeling is Burnout Revenge.
As the follow-up to Burnout 3: Takedown, the game had a lot to live up to. It doesn’t always do so. But there’s one area where it undoubtedly does: speed. The roads around you aren’t roads, just a part of the rush. Nothing comes between you and the car. Playing the game in that zone is a truly wonderful thing and it’s every bit as fun as it was the last time around. Then you crash into a concrete slab and it all ends.
Certainly, I suck. That’s part of the problem. However, some of it has to be blamed on shoddy design. If you played Burnout 3, perhaps you remember some of the urban races where you’d zigzag through concrete support beams, hoping and praying that it would end soon so you could just have fun racing. Well, those suckers are back for Burnout Revenge, and they’ve been reproducing like horny rabbits. Many of the tracks now have other cheap moments, too. You power slide around a corner and there’s a tunnel up ahead. As you start to turn--WHAM! All the speed, the lead you had on your opponents… all of it slips through your fingers as you collide with a rail.
Some adjustments to the Burnout formula are more welcome. In an astonishing twist, hitting other cars isn’t always fatal. I’m not talking about just brushing them, which was permitted in the past. I’m talking about plowing right into the back of some soccer mom’s Suburban and watching it shuffle off to the side as glass splinters and metal crunches. You keep going. What you’ve done is called ‘shunting’ in this game, and it’s actually encouraged. Hit a few cars in a row and your boost meter will really climb. Then you can drive even more dangerously.
I thought this notion was stupid at first. Then I embraced it. After all, power sliding through corners and driving in the opposite lane may not be enough here. Now you have to have your revenge on those Sunday drivers who don’t seem to realize that speed laws are merely suggestions now that all the cops are off visiting some doughnut convention or something.
As the game’s title suggests, revenge is a common theme. The ‘Takedown’ has returned from the last game, but now it’s all about evening the score. If another racer plows into your side and sends you spiraling into a concrete slab, the screen incites you to have your revenge. When you succeed, your boost meter grows. Races become that much more thrilling.
It’s not just races that excel, though. There’s also the ‘Crash’ mode, which works thusly: you drive a vehicle into the middle of an intersection and watch the ensuing chaos. The goal here is to destroy as much property as possible. It’s sick, yes. It’s twisted, too. It also happens to be a fair bit of fun, if only in small slices. I just love watching SUVs explode. That’ll teach those drivers not to talk on their cell phones while on the freeway! There’s even strategy involved. Go off the wrong ramp and you might crash in the middle of an intersection, but what if you had held out for that next ramp and landed in the middle of an RV convention? Questions like this keep the experience fresh, and the game keeps track of high scores so that you can challenge yourself to improve on your personal best. If somehow you get tired of all those races and the crash mode, though, the fun isn’t over. You can take it all online.
Xbox Live is another area where Burnout Takedown excels. As long as there are plenty of other gamers willing to ‘race just one more race,’ you won’t find anything better. The level of addiction is unreal. Just try to stop after one race and you’ll see what I mean. An hour turns into three before you know it. Suddenly, you realize you’ve just spent a whole evening with nothing to show for it but the memory of what a great time you just had. Trash talking abounds and everyone’s having so much fun that you don’t have to worry about the usual goofs that just want to find a cheat so they can shoot you through a wall or kill you with one hit.
So, you have a refreshing online mode, a great single-player mode that’s mostly free of stupidity, and a general rush that no other racer I’ve ever played can rival. Why doesn’t the game get a perfect score? Well, we’ve tasted most of this before. Not only that, but the tracks were less confusing. Until you get used to the new environments, you’ll probably experience numerous occasions where you crash directly into a wall because some signs seemed to be pointing you in that direction. The cities feel more realistic, sure, but it’s more difficult to really grab hold of a streak of glory. Still, you’ll forget all of that the minute things start to go right. It’s still a blast to drive like a maniac and leave your opponents in your dust. Was there ever really any doubt?
Staff review by Jason Venter (September 22, 2005)
Jason Venter has been playing games for 30 years, since discovering the Apple IIe version of Mario Bros. in his elementary school days. Now he writes about them, here at HonestGamers and also at other sites that agree to pay him for his words.
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