SONY PSP REVIEW: BURNOUT LEGENDS

Racing games on handhelds haven't ever been much to fawn over. Most were crude and elementary in comparison to what was taking place on the console systems. Certainly the Game Boy Advance was instrumental in foreshadowing what could be accomplished on the small screen in terms of racing, but the games were still technically inferior. Fast forward to Criterion's Burnout Legends on Sony's PSP and wonder no more as blistering speed, incredible graphics and hours of addicting gameplay explode in your hands. Burnout Legends is a tour de force of high quality gameplay that doesn't suffer from the "leftovers" syndrome of so many other PSP titles, even though the courses found within the game are tweaked tracks from previous games. Even if you've played every Burnout title to date, including the recent Burnout Revenge on the consoles, BL is still going to rock your world.

Legends encompasses everything you love about the series, whether you possess an affinity for a particular game - Burnout, Burnout 2 or last years Takedown - or enjoy them all equally. Most importantly it doesn't water down the experience Burnout fans demand; it's still all about carnage and speed. Burnout enthusiasts will obviously recognize the tracks found within, as mentioned they do make a reappearance from previous games (collected from the first 3 games) but that doesn't diminish the overall appeal of Legends in the slightest.

Jumping into World Tour, BL's meat and potatoes mode, even novice players will get the hang of the rules of road quickly. Relying on the KISMF principle (Keep It Simple MoFo - we've retooled the old saying so kids today would understand it!) Criterion provides players with an easy to understand three button configuration- Gas, Brake, Boost. But only sissies use the brake, right? The more dangerous you drive by risking life and limb driving in the oncoming lane, sideswiping vehicles etc. the faster you'll fill your boost meter. Kicking into Boost, your car zoom zooms from fast to furious, which automatically enables the players adrenaline-fueled hyper focus mode. Console purists will notice that the PSP screen can be a tad on the small size when it comes to seeing what obstacles lie ahead, but Criterion even managed to foreshadow this hinderance and left small visual clues as to what's in your way so they can be avoided. As you play Burnout Legends you'll definitely become more astute at deciphering these tiny details to help you navigate at high speeds.

Making your way through World Tour throws a handful of different events your way. While you'll start off with Compacts and have to race your way through some "normal" races in Burnout Legends, eventually you'll run into the following events - faceoffs (race against a single opponent to win his vehicle), burning laps (time trials), road rage (takedown as many opponents within the time limit) and pursuit mode (you're the fuzz trying to chase down a perp). Like the original Burnout, Crash mode which offers 100 various metal twisting, glass-shattering events is kept separate from the World Tour. You'll still need to play this mode if you want to unlock other tracks and vehicles though, so don't ignore it. If you've played Burnout Revenge, you'll know that the Crash mode has underwent a Multiplier-ectomy, which means no more insane multiplier scores during this event - Legends also reflects this alteration.

Since Burnout 3 was just a gas playing online, Burnout Legends allows up to 6 players simultaneously. Unfortunately you can't race online, but only with those standing close enough to take advantage of the wireless ad hoc connection. Given that anyone with a PSP should have this game in his or her collection, like yesterday dudes, I can't imagine you'll have too difficult a time locating some real life competition. Plus it's a lot more fun to lay a beating on the guy who smokes everyone and has that smartass grin on his face. My therapist calls that "mindless aggression" but I call it "cathartic" and it removes that grin so easily from his pudgy little soul-patch sporting monkey face.... If you don't have any friends smart enough to have bought this game, you can treat them to a sample and upload a track to their PSP so you can play head to head with only one UMD. Very cool feature. That should get them addicted enough to buy the full version. I mean, how could they ignore the allure of such a kick ass racing game? Of course you might have also heard that 5 random cars come loaded onto each Legends UMD. To earn the other 20 you will actually have to play against other humans with the game. While that's a kind of frustrating novelty for guys my age who don't have the immediate circle of friends with PSP's, I can see this turning into a very cool "Pokemon-esque" type pasttime and I applaud Criterion for thinking outside the box, while at the same time thinking very much in Nintendo's box. Hey imitation is the most sincerest from of flattery...unless it originates in Hong Kong.

I was a little concerned with how I was going to like playing Burnout Legends using the analog stick and I was right to assume that I would probably just gravitate towards the digital pad, which I did pretty much immediately. I just don't care for the placement of the analog stick on the PSP. It throws me. The D-pad works just as well, in fact, I believe it even provides a tighter feel which is helpful when executing those split second decisions.

Visually Burnout Legends maintains a silky smooth framerate while maintaining the explosions, flying debris and insane accidents of its console brethren. Nothing is lost in the translation. It may not impress quite as much as Revenge, but we're talking about a whole different group of oranges here. The PSPs small screen sharpens everything to a brilliant finish and I think Legends is one of the hottest looking titles yet, and certainly earns the award of best PSP racing title, hands down. Musically the game is not my cup of tea and I find that EA relies a little too much on hip club music which is not my cup of tea, but I'm a lot older than you punks, so cut me some slack. The good news is that the annoying DJ from Takedown is gone, gone, gone. Good riddance. That %$#@ was annoying.

While Legends can be thought off as a "Best Of Burnout" or "Greatest Hits", it really doesn't come off as a total rehash or dumbed down console version at all. It feels fresh and invigorating to play this game on the go. Criterion packed so much into that UMD that you'll finally have that one game that was totally worth buying a PSP for or IS worth investing in one now. Legends is just as much of a blast playing it alone while you wait for dad outside of Larry's Liquor & Ammo as it as it playing it with the guys loitering around Cowboy Bob's Porno & Religious Artifacts Emporium. It's a wild ride and one finally worth taking on the PSP.

PReview by Vaughn

In little over 4 years Criterion has taken their little car crash racing game and turned it into a phenomenon that rivals the best of the competition. If you haven't played any incarnation of Burnout in the last while, I demand that you instantly renounce your ties to videogames and take up needlepoint. What are you wasting your time with, if you aren't enjoying the fruits of Criterion's hard work? Yu-Gi-Oh? I mean, come on already!

Not content with burning up the tracks on the consoles, Burnout is now making its way to the PSP and for all intents and purposes it will most likely kick as much ass as it did at home.

Burnout Legends is the name and insane racing and crashing your opponents into walls (and other deadly roadside objects) is the game. While many titles appearing on the PSP are watered down versions of their console brothers, Burnout Legends promises to be a lot more than lukewarm leftovers. Players can experience 4 player wi-fi action and Criterion has even made it possible to play two player with only one UMD. Simply upload a track to a friend's PSP and you're good to go. But make sure you let him win a few times so he feels all big and talented which will lull him into a false sense of security, thus enticing him to buy his own copy of the game; then kick his weak-player 2-baby skills all over the map. Now that's humiliation Burnout style. You've not only destroyed his confidence as a gamer but you tricked him into buying a copy of the game, therefore supplying the much-more-talented-than-you game developers at Criterion some revenue so they can continue to make these wonderful games. It's win win; for Criterion and you that is.

Your dad and mom may have taught you that winning isn't everything. And that's definitely true, especially if you're content being a LOSER. Check this out: Each copy of Burnout Legends will come with 5 out of 25 available cars. The only way to collect the other 20, is to beat your friends and win their vehicles. Talk about incentive. That's such a great idea I can't believe this is the first time I've heard of it.

If you're lucky enough to own a PSP, there is absolutely no reason why you shouldn't be gearing up for the release. We can't wait to take this baby for a test drive. Check out the features below and try not to want this one. Just try it.

Press:

Inflict carnage and destruction as you tear through the best from the Burnout series made exclusively for handheld gaming. Race the legends, take on an Eliminator Challenge, or track down offenders in your high-performance cop car to unlock classic and new Burnout vehicles. Then go head-to-head in Wi-Fi multiplayer races to capture your friends' cars. Lay down the law in Pursuit mode or crash your way through a world tour and then share the explosive race action over Wi-Fi. Burnout Legends is a license to unleash adrenaline-fuelled mayhem anywhere you want.

Features:

  • Engage in Irresponsible Speed -- Experience the blistering speed and intensity of the Burnout series in the fastest, most dangerous racing experience available on handheld.
  • Multiplayer Mayhem -- Take down your friends in four-player Wi-Fi action -- from Race and Crash modes to Pursuit and Road Rage. Or Game Share a level to a friend's PSP and play with only one UMD.
  • Battle to Win New Cars -- Each copy of Burnout Legends comes with 5 of 25 unlockable cars.
  • Collect the remaining 20 by annihilating your friends in Wi-Fi challenges.
  • Uphold the Law -- Get behind the wheel of all-new police cars for the ultimate game of high-speed cat-and-mouse.
  • Crash Mode -- A new scoring system challenges you to launch your car into traffic in an attempt to create the biggest crashes imaginable.
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System: PSP
Dev: Criterion
Pub: EA
Release: Sept 2005
Players: 1 - 6
Review by Vaughn
RATING (OUT OF 5)
OVERALL
4.5
GRAPHICS
4.5
CONTROL
4.5
MUSIC/FX
3.0
VALUE
3.5