reviews\ Apr 1, 2007 at 8:00 pm

Burnout Dominator - PSP - Review

The Burnout series has always been a great alternative to the much too serious racing-simulation genre. While Gran Turismo was getting everyone worked up over the realistic aspect of racing Burnout was sticking to a more arcade style. For many the selling point of a Burnout game wasn’t about racing, it was about destruction. The Crash mode was the stuff of legend for many gamers since it was all about crashing your car and creating the most expensive wreck possible. Well Burnout: Dominator doesn’t include the Crash mode but it still offers an exciting and fun racing experience on the PSP.

For veterans of the Burnout series you will probably be disappointed by the lack of new features and updates for Burnout: Dominator. I missed out on Burnout Legends but Dominator plays almost identical to Burnout Revenge. The whole presentation and layout of Dominator is practically the same as Revenge. The game has you racing in what is called the World Tour event. The World Tour has you racing through cities and locations from across the globe competing in a variety of races.


The race events in Dominator are composed of events from the previous Burnout games and a few new races. The Race mode is just as the name describes a race against the competition. Burning Lap is a time trial style race that has you competing to get the best time possible. Road Rage has you competing in a race but the objective is to take out (called a Takedown) as many cars as possible during the race. Eliminator has you racing to finish first because fourth, third and second are eliminated at various points during the race. The Grand Prix mode is a multi-race event where you race to win the final medal in the Grand Prix mode.

The various new modes in the game might be called new but they still don’t add anything revolutionary to the game. The Maniac mode is a race that awards you for driving as crazy as possible. Drifting, near misses and driving on the wrong side of the road are all awarded in the Maniac mode. The Burnout, Drift and Near Miss challenges are new races where you need to perform a certain number of special moves. For example in the Burnout challenge you might have to perform two burnouts in a row or drift for a specific number of feet. The Near Miss Challenge has you racing to perform a specific number of near misses without wrecking.


The Rival Challenge mode tasks you with performing a very specific takedown of a rival during a race. Completing the Rival Challenge rewards you with unlocking the car you performed the takedown on. After finishing all of the Rival Challenges you unlock the Dominator Challenge. Completing the Dominator Challenge lets you unlock the Dominator car. All of these events feel more like marginal enhancements to features already built into the game instead of being new and inventive. 

The gameplay is still the classic Burnout style we’ve grown use to over the past few years minus the Crash mode. In case you’ve never played a Burnout game before, the whole point of the game is driving as crazy and reckless as possible without wrecking. Driving on the wrong side of the road into incoming traffic while nearly having a wreck is not only encouraged but keys to winning the game. By performing these moves you increase your boost meter which allows you to perform a supercharge blast of turbo to blow past the competition and traffic.


Another import feature in the game is the takedowns of the other drivers in the game. Just as in Burnout Revenge all of the takedowns in the game are presented in a short cutscene that shows a close up view of the wreck. Even on the PSP screen all of the crashes are spectacular to view but get a little repetitive when you have multiple takedowns in the game. One important feature of the crashes/wrecks are the Impact Time and Crashbreakers features.  As soon as you wreck the game switches to a view that allows you to slow down the wreck and maneuver your car in slow motion. During certain races you then get to perform a Crashbreaker which lets you blow up your car to cause another racer in the game to crash. As soon as the Impact Time or Crashbreaker are finish you jump back into the race.

In the end Burnout: Dominator is another solid title that feels more like a yearly update instead of a brand new title in the series. I’m sure this is because the new version, Burnout 5, is still in development. Dominator will please fans of the series but will leave most veterans of Burnout probably looking for something more. The new modes just don’t offer anything that you won’t play in a regular race. Please, please, please EA bring back the Crash mode. There is nothing like performing a 20-million dollar wreck with an ice cream truck.

Review Scoring Details for Burnout Dominator

Gameplay: 8.5
The gameplay is still the classic reckless style built from the Burnout mold. I would recommend ditching the analog nub and use the directional buttons to control the car.  The Impact Time and Crashbreaker features can be a little cumbersome to control due to having to hold the right shoulder button. At one point I shut down by accident the PSP since my right hand was sitting on top of the power switch while holding down the right shoulder button.

Graphics: 8.4
Visually the game looks fantastic with tons of detail in the background, spectacular effects in the crashes, and a solid/steady framerate.

Sound: 7.0
Yes, the whole EA Trax music tracks are still in this game and get played repeatedly. Due to the UMD media all of the tracks sound just a clear as a MP3 or CD. The sound effects of the crashes, tire squeals and other car effects come through very clear along during the races.

Multiplayer: 7.5
Once again we get another PSP title that features a nice Ad Hoc mode but a limited infrastructure mode. The Ad Hoc mode supports up to five players and has a Race, Maniac and Road Rage mode included. All of the vehicles and modes are unlocked in the Ad Hoc mode. The infrastructure mode is limited to just downloading new tracks and uploading your scores to the Burnout server.

Concept: 7.0
Dominator offers small improvements instead of huge advancements in Burnout. Once again please bring back the Crash mode.

Difficulty: Easy/Medium
As I’ve mentioned earlier forget the analog nub and stick with the directional buttons for the controls. This will make the barrier to entry much easier to get use to playing the game.

Overall: 7.7
Hopefully the EA syndrome of releasing a new title in a series every year doesn’t mean we’re going to get moderate improvements to Burnout. Sure, these small improvements are nice but they don’t offer enough for veterans of the series. If you played the heck out of Burnout Revenge then honestly you could really skip Dominator.  But if you need a PSP racing game then make sure to check out Burnout: Dominator. The fast packed, break neck excitement of a Burnout games is contagious even on portable system.


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