reviews\ Dec 6, 2001 at 7:00 pm

Burnout - PS2 - Review

If you like to drive fast and live dangerously, Acclaim's new arcade racer may be just what you've been waiting for.  "Burnout" is a racing game with an edge, as gamers are encouraged to have close calls, drive into oncoming traffic, and drift their cars as far as possible.  As if that isn't enough, all the races take place on public streets, from those found in crowded European cities to the open highways of the U.S.  So hop in the car of your choice, fasten your seatbelt, and let 'er rip!  There are no limits in this racer.

The most impressive aspect of this game is definitely the realistic crashes that can occur while racing.  When you're involved in an accident, damage is very accurate and the cars look just how you'd expect, complete with broken windows, smashed fenders and more.  While crashing may look pretty cool, it's not a good idea to crash too much if you're planning on winning a race, as doing so can significantly slow you down.  Although if you're attempting to get in the record books as one of the worst drivers, then crash away my friend!

Burnout doesn't display the names of the cars found within the game, but there's some obvious resemblance to actual production models.  A car is rated either easy, medium, or hard depending on how well it handles and how fast it is.  For example, one of the muscle cars looks very much like a new viper (even though it tops out at around 135mph), but there's no mention of this name.  The car choice is fairly limited though and new cars aren't opened up as the game is completed, which may be a letdown to some.

It doesn't seem like many games use credits anymore, but Burnout is an arcade game so it's no surprise that you start with three credits in championship mode.  This mode of play puts you up against three other drivers and requires you to finish in a certain finishing position.  If you do so you'll open up new levels which you can you use in all the available game modes: single race, time attack, head-to-head, and the two special modes, face off and survival.  These special modes aren't available until they're opened up by playing in the championship mode and they require more advanced driving skills by adding a more realistic twist to the game.

Multiplayer head-to-head game play is very entertaining when it comes to a racing game.  This is primarily because you can cause your friends to be involved in some serious smashups, something that is always good for a laugh.

To weave in and out of traffic with the utmost precision, gamers can take advantage of either the analog or digital controls on the DualShock2 gamepad or get a more realistic experience by using the Logitech GT Force steering wheel.  Both control options allow the cars to be controlled easily and accurately, something that is essential to a fast-paced racing game such as Burnout.  As a result, drifts can be easily kept under control even at the highest speeds.

All the buttons are pretty straightforward with the exception of the "burn" button.  While racing there is a "burn meter" that is built up by certain maneuvers, such as drift distance, oncoming traffic distance (how far you stay in the wrong lanes), and the number of near misses you have (ex: cutting people off).  Once you have topped-out this meter you have the ability to use the "burn" button, which is gives you a 10mph or so boost in speed.  Therefore, Burnout encourages you to drive recklessly without actually getting into accidents, as the meter decreases when you do so.

The sound is undoubtedly Burnout's biggest flaw.  The music is absolutely horrendous and deserves to be turned off at the first possible opportunity.  While the sound effects, such as the engine and tire noise, aren't as bad as the music is, they aren't very impressive to say the least.  Burnout is a game that's much more enjoyable when the sound is completely turned off and your favorite CD is playing instead.

Graphically, Burnout isn't quite up to par with various other racing games that have been released for PS2, but it holds its own.  There are a few clipping flaws that surface from time to time, but the frame-rate is extremely smooth, even with many vehicles on the screen simultaneously.  The environmental effects are well done, as the cars accurately reflect light and create shadows on the pavement.  The crash effects, such as smoke and shards of glass are currently unparalleled.  Also, the overall scenery is of better quality than of that found in other games, but when it comes to the overall look Burnout just seems a bit unfulfilling.

I can't argue the fact that Burnout offers gamers the ability to be involved with some of the most accurate crashes ever offered in a game, but is that enough to make it a worthwhile purchase?  It just may be for those looking for a new arcade racer, although for those who are used to simulation style games, the game is somewhat of a letdown.  It is fun for a while to wreak some havoc on the streets, but my advice is that you rent it first to get a feel for it and decide whether or not it's what you're looking for.  Oh yeah, one more sure to watch out for those light poles; they always seem to suddenly jump out in front of the car!

This game is rated "E" for everyone and it takes up a mere 25KB on your PS2 memory card.

Reviewer's Scoring Details

Gameplay: 8.5
The gameplay in Burnout is very fast-paced and exhilarating.  Weaving in and out of traffic has never been so enjoyable.

Graphics: 7.5
While the game looks good overall and offers some impressive visual crash effects, it seems to be lacking something in the graphics department.

Sound: 5
The music is very annoying and begs to be turned off, while the sound effects won't impress most gamers.

Difficulty: 8
Since only three credits (retries) are allowed in championship mode, this game can become difficult if you have a somewhat destructive race.  If only those Sunday drivers would get off the roads (along with the trucks, buses, and all other vehicles)!

Concept: 9
Burnout presents gamers with a new, innovative arcade racer.  Reckless driving has never been encouraged as much as it is in this game!

Multiplayer: 8.5
Everyone likes making their friends crash.  Need I say more?

Overall: 7.8


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