PS2 REVIEW: BURNOUT

At first I thought this was a game about a webmaster who agreed to host a website 365 days a year without a break, but then I saw the car on the front of the cover. I get it now....burnout....as in squealling your tires. Well, smoking your tires is one thing, but ramming into the back of a semi at 80MPH is quite another and Burnout (the game) is filled with wild moments like that. In fact, it's what the game is based on. Kind of.

Burnout is like Ridge Racer V on crack (minus the prissy announcer) and is exactly the kind of racing game I was in the mood for. After the perfection needed to race in Gran Turismo 3 A-Spec and the precision required in Project Gotham Racing, I was more than ready for a game where the control was tight, and I could just concentrate on cool powerslides. The insane crashes were just a bonus really. So what is all this talk of spectacular bangups? Well, Burnout is just a little different than your regular run of the mill racing game.

Your driving is judged on three parameters: The distance of your powerslide, how long you can drive on the wrong side of the road and near misses. By playing the Championship mode (14 courses based in the US and Europe) you'll start with three courses and unlock courses, cars and other gameplay modes from this part of the game. Right off the bat you have to realize that the laws of physics don't apply here; this is strictly an arcade racing game.

The pacing of the game is well balanced, allowing beginning players to slide in to the second or third place near the start of the game to qualify and move on. As the game progresses (and subsequently, your skills too) you'll be required to finish the race in first place to continue.

Games like this have failed horribly due to crappy control and I'm happy to report that Burnout feels as good as Ridge Racer in this department. There is nothing worse than tearing up a track and sliding all over the road (Driving Emotion Type -S anyone?). The graphics are extremely detailed as well. You might not confuse this with Gran Turismo 3 but the visuals certainly approach the quality found in that series. The cars are unidentified "replicas" of certain realworld vehicles and anyone who has spent some time behind the wheel will recognize their favorites.

Musically the game is chockfilled with pumping techno tunes which I found to be rather enjoyable. I'm glad that Acclaim decided to forego the "alternative" soundtrack as my ears have been assaulted by numerous indie bands as of late. Sometimes I just want to play my little game without being pestered by some powerchord slinging, effects pedal abusing, drug-addicted tattooed dimwit and his ****ed up views on life, you know? I'll take the repetitive thumping of a sequenced kick drum any day of the week. I can understand that and even sympathize with it. Sure I sound old, and I should; I am old.

My only complaint with the game lie in the NPC AI (how is that for an anagram?) That's Non-Player Characters Artificial Intelligence to those of you who weren't sure. I'm referring to the traffic beetling around the courses. If you drive in the opposite direction, more often than not, the other cars swerve to miss you. This makes getting points a real breeze on some courses. Other than that little hiccup, there is little to complaint about. This game is fun and you should play it.

Anyway you slice it, the game is great fun and will keep you entertained for hours, whether it's just crashing, racing or going head to head with a friend. If you've been burned on racing games lately, you might want to rent it first. However, I think Burnout is a great title that could be bought sight unseen and enjoyed for a long time to come.

System: PS2, X
Dev: Criterion
Pub: Acclaim
Release: Nov 2001
Players: 1 - 2
Review by Vaughn
RATING (OUT OF 5)
OVERALL
4.5
GRAPHICS
4.0
CONTROL
4.5
MUSIC/FX
4.0
VALUE
4.0