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Burnout 2: Point of Impact - Developer's Cut (Xbox) artwork

Burnout 2: Point of Impact - Developer's Cut (Xbox) review

"*Note : This review is for the Xbox version of the game, but you could also apply it to all other versions. Just take out the bit about Live! support. Oh, and for the PS2, you only get 15 Crash Junctions.* "

*Note : This review is for the Xbox version of the game, but you could also apply it to all other versions. Just take out the bit about Live! support. Oh, and for the PS2, you only get 15 Crash Junctions.*

One really has to wonder about Acclaim....

There was a time when they were one of the premier developers around. There was a time when Acclaim had more money than God, and they threw it at every license available. There was a time when you could buy a game by Acclaim without feeling like you were somehow letting the side down. You could have happily talked about them alongside Capcom, Konami, and EA. People wouldn't have looked at you as if you had forgotten to put your pants on.

Of course, these days Acclaim is synonymous with crap. A series of poor titles and questionable marketing campaigns have put this once top-tier developer at the bottom of any serious gamers list of 'people who make good games'. After all, this is the company that bought us BMX XXX, which remains a milestone in low quality gaming. So, imagine your surprise when you load up Burnout 2, which was yet another game advertised in extrmely poor taste, only to find it is in fact a good game.

Scratch that. It is in fact a great game.

The original Burnout was a fairly average racing game, which was only notable for some quite spectacular crash physics. The crashes were so good, in fact, that they marred an otherwise enjoyable game. It was a shame, because you could clearly see how the seeds of a great game were there, they were just being strangled by the developers over-eagerness to show off their crash engine. People liked, but people said ''Could do better.'' It seems that Acclaim listened. Because Burnout 2 retains all that was good about the original, and tweaks it to near-perfection.

When you start to play, the first hint you have that things might not be like every other racing game is that there are no actual races available, just the 'Dangerous Driving 101' tutorial for you to try out. Here, you will be hand-held through the absolute basics, as if you were a child. At this point, you may wonder if Acclaim have made things a little TOO easy. Fear not, this game doesn't stay so serene for very long. Bronze medal in each of the tasks, and you get to take part in Championship Mode. This is basically 80% of the rest of the gameplay. Here, you race various Grand Prix against AI competitors, increasing in dificulty and length. All very much as expected, then.

Only, it's different. Because, Burnout 2 does it all with more style and panache than every other racer out there. It does this by means of the 'Boost'. Now, many race games give you some kind of turbo, again this is nothing new. But, no other game handles turbo in such a unique way.

In order to gain boost, you need to drive in such a way as to increase your boost meter. The way to do this is to drive in such a way as to skirt with the possibility of crashing. So, essentially, you have to drift, narrowly avoid other traffic, catch air-time, and drive on the wrong side of the road. Do enough of this to fill the meter, and then you get limited boost capability. Hit boost, and the entire game goes into overdrive.

The music in Burnout 2 is quite innovative. The tunes are all your standard racing fare, until the moment you hit boost. Then, they mutate into bastardised versions of themselves, played by musicians on steroids. Throw this in with the turbo sound-effect, and the VAST increase in speed, and you suddenly find yourself absolutely glued to your screen. For the 5 or so seconds that your first boost will last you, you can't help but get one hell of a kick out of it. Keep hold of the boost button for the length of time it takes your boost to wear out, and you get accredited with a 'Burnout'.

Drive dangeroulsy enough in boost mode, and you can fill the meter back up so that you can instantly boost again. And again. And again. Until the race is over, if you're good enough.

It's during this boost mode that the game truly comes alive. With the music pumping, and the scenery whizzing by, your adrenaline really does start pumping. You find yourself looking as far down the road ahead as you possibly can. This feels like the best movie car-chases rather than just another driving game. Manage to chain together a few Burnouts and the tension starts to kick in as you fear crashing. Not because you will lose the race, but because you don't want to play at such a pedestrian speed again. Boost mode is as addictive as any drug.

Like all good games the championship mode gets tougher as it progresses. Initial races can be won simply by picking the correct lines and not crashing too often. The later stages pretty much require you to master boost mode in order to stand any chance. And at times there is so much oncoming traffic that you wonder how on earth you are going to make it to the finish. It's in these later races that every single second of boost becomes precious to you. Often you will find yourself screaming at the game to just give you one more car to avoid, one more corner to drift through. You get it, hit boost, and pass your opponent right in front of the finish line. And it is only then that you allow yourself to breathe out again. This truly is an exhilirating ride.

If the game was just championship mode, then it would still be a worthwhile purchase. But, Burnout 2 has a couple more tricks up its sleeve. The most glaringly obvious of which is Crash Junctions. Here, the idea is to cause pile-ups. It's like 30 scenarios have been set up for you, and you have to find the way to get the most points out of it. This mode is an ideal mulitplayer party game, with some spectacular crashes made possible.

Also, mixed into the championship races, are the Pursuits. Here, you are playing Chase HQ all over again. As the cop your job is to hit the enemy car 10 times before it travels a certain distance. Capture all 3 bad guys, and you unlock this as a 2 player game, as well. While not being an essential part of the package, it's a nice addition.

Graphically, the game more than stands up to any inspection. Sonically, it is in a class of it's own. The cars all handle in different ways. As far as driving games go you can have no complaints. But this game is so much more than the sum of the individual parts. Sure, you race. Name a racing game where you don't? But, it's the amount of extra things to tuck alongside the racing that makes this title. Every track has several records attached to it, and so even when you have won all the gold medals, you can still go back and do better on each individual track. Those of you with Xbox Live! can also upload your statistics to compare with the rest of the world. It makes for a nice addition to an already superb experience.

Typically, reviews end by listing the negative aspects of the game. So, I'll do that too :

1.) The default controls may well hurt your hand. Let's face it, the Xbox controller is far too big.

2.) Nothing else.

So there. Stop reading this now, and go out and buy this game. You need this game. No matter how many other driving games you have in your collection, there is room for this one too. Unlike most other racing games Burnout 2 fills the gap wether you want to play for hours, or just for 10 minutes. Refreshingly free from the 'play through 65 times to unlock a new colour fluffy dice' mentality, but also providing you with new targets to aim for. And most of all, some of the finest gameplay in ages. This one comes with the highest of reccomendations.

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Community review by cheekylee (June 05, 2003)

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