What about our nature makes us enjoy destroying things? Is it the fact that we are violent people, or are we simply fascinated by the sight of destruction? Personally I believe it’s because it is so damn fun to simply race head on into oncoming traffic at ridiculous speeds without a care in the world. This is probably why the Burnout franchise has always been a fan favorite over the years. After being acquired by EA last year most fans thought the innovation would be stripped from the series. I mean EA is known for rehashing more than a few of its franchises, thankfully the boys at Criterion have delivered a damn near perfect sequel to an already outstanding game. Find out why Burnout Revenge is once again the must own racing title of the year.
We’ll start with the visuals; last year’s incarnation was extremely slick. Tons of spark effects and a frame rate to absolutely die for. Never before has a racer been so fast and kept the pace without breaking a sweat. This year’s version is no different, tons of new crash animation and even better explosions round out the already solid visual package. Car models sport some gorgeous reflection mapping and the environments are cluttered with lots of debris and visual flare that simply begs you to slow down and enjoy. This is of course impossible as the game blazes by you at a solid and steady frame rate that never misses a beat. The audio has also been pumped up with some excellent explosion sounds and hearing a car fall to pieces is absolutely beautiful in Dolby Digital 5.1. The soundtracks is a bit underwhelming with the highlights being Pennywise, Goldfinger, and Unwritten Law, but as always you can opt for custom soundtracks.
Speaking of the course design it seems Criterion didn’t take the year off when creating Revenge. Adding shortcuts and some panic inducing tight spaces create tracks that are just as fun to drive through as they are to crash in. Speeding through a space barely wider than your vehicle at 160+ mph is an experience that has to be seen to fully appreciate. The track diversity ranges from the night streets of Tokyo to the gorgeous country side of the mountains. All of course chock full of traffic and ramps that have become more than just landmarks, they are now interactive to an extent.
Burnout is becoming the new Tony Hawk game of sorts, meaning that each year they simply improve on an already amazing game by simply taking it to the next level. This year Criterion has added traffic checking; basically this gives you the ability to check traffic into other traffic or even your rival racers. You can obtain combos and gain boost by checking traffic and even cause some massive chaos in tight spaces. Another cool feature added is the ability to use crash breaker during some races. Wipeout while battling with your course rivalry? Simply tap the B button right as he passes by to simply obliterate him and any other poor sap that happens to be in the vicinity of your explosion.
The crash mode has also been re-invented this year. Taking a cue from Burnout 2, which is considered to have the best crash mode of all the games, there are now more junctions of traffic to hurl your car into. There are no longer pick-ups to boost your performance, they have been replaced by multiple crash breakers, multi-tiered crash sites, and target vehicles to take out. For every car that crashes because of your chaos your crash breaker builds up, once at 100% you can unleash it. Then you can steer your wreck with the after touch and try to cause more havoc in order to build your crash breaker back up. Take out the target car for even more bonus points. The junctions are also much more detailed this year with such levels as a parking garage and a giant ravine that you can launch your truck off of into innocent campers, simply great stuff.
One of the best features of last year’s game was of course being able to take it online, I am happy to say that this mode has returned albeit not much improved. You have the same basic online modes as last year, race, cat & mouse (called road rage of course), and the crash modes. There are several different variations of the crash mode including crash tour which is basically you and your buddies taking turns dueling it out over the course of all the courses and the winner is based on total damage. Needless to say I was hoping for some new modes, but alas these are more than sufficient. What is nice is that it finally seems EA is learning how to implement XB Live properly. We only had one disconnection so far where as last year we were disconnected after every single game.
With smooth as silk handling, tons of modes both online and off, and of course a seemingly endless supply of destructive fun Burnout Revenge is a game that every Xbox owner should have. Playing this game makes the wait for the Xbox 360 seem to go by so much faster, plus it’s nice to see such quality titles hitting at the end of this console’s life cycle. If you are a fan of videogames in general then you owe it to yourself to pick up a copy of Burnout Revenge and prepare for the best racing game to grace your Xbox this year!