Tuesday, October 11, 2005

VG REVIEW: Burnout Revenge & Burnout Legends

A few items of note. Comment spam was getting pretty bad, so I had to turn on word verification. Sorry if that sort of thing ticks you off. Also, links have been updated somewhat, or at least put in a slightly more pleasing, alphabetical order. I hope to add more this week.

And now on with the show. Here's the first of two reviews that ran this past Sunday. Look for my sparkling opinions on the Game Boy Micro tomorrow.

RATING: 4 stars
Electronic Arts

for PlayStation 2 and Xbox
rated E10+ for Everyone age 10 and older, $49.99.

RATING: 3 and a half stars
Electronic Arts

for the PlayStation Portable
rated E10+, $49.99.

There’s an inherent danger in releasing video game sequels in a "once-every-year" fashion, particularly when you’re dealing with an acclaimed franchise such as the "Burnout" series.

Won’t rushing a new game out the door result in a poorer product? After all, "Burnout 3" made a lot of "best of 2004" lists last year. Wouldn’t Electronic Arts and developer Criterion Studios be smarter not to force a deadline on the game so that the inevitable sequel doesn’t suffer from comparison?

Usually, the answer to this question is a definitive "yes." But in the case of "Burnout Revenge," it’s a decided "no," or, at least, a calm "relax and quit worrying."

Rather than mess with the basic formula, Criterion instead keeps all the elements that have made past games so memorable but tweaks "Revenge" enough to boost it into greatness.

As before, "Revenge" is all about racing fast and dirty. Winning races requires not just speed but also slamming your opponents into the variety of obstacles that line the highways and streets you race along. Smash-ups are rendered in loving detail, and points are awarded for your recklessness.

One of the more surprisingly pleasant additions here is that you can now slam into nonracing traffic so long as they’re going the same way you are. Oncoming traffic and big trucks and buses are still hazards, but anything else is fair game and easy to send spiraling into a wall or (even better) your opponent. The ability to turn other cars into potential weapons adds another layer of strategy to the game and keeps it from feeling like a rehash.

Especially impressive in "Revenge" is the superb design of the game’s tracks. Each route is packed with shortcuts and secret passages, giving you rather intriguing (and occasionally hazardous) ways to jump to first or dive from above on a rival in what is referred to as a "vertical takedown."

Most of the race modes from previous games return here, including the popular "crash event," which is simply about causing as massive and expensive a traffic pile-up as possible. This aspect also has been tweaked, though it’s no longer quite as easy to get a gold medal as before, and figuring out the best place to get a tractor-trailer to explode can be a real, though enjoyable, head-scratcher.

If all that smash and crash isn’t enough for you, let me direct your attention to "Burnout Legends" for the PSP. This compilation could easily be subtitled "Burnout’s Greatest Hits," as it’s merely a repackaging of some of the best tracks and events from the first three "Burnout" games, but, as any "Burnout" fan will tell you, that’s a pretty sweet package.

Anyone who’s played "Burnout 3" will be instantly familiar with "Legends." The game looks lovely on the hand-held and manages to translate the sense of speed rather well.

The only caveats regarding "Legends" are the frequent loading times between races and the fact that the tracks tend to repeat themselves all too frequently once you hit the halfway point.

That being said, there are far too few noteworthy games out right now for the PSP, meaning that owners of Sony’s hand-held console would be wise to snatch up this game.

"Burnout Revenge" and, to a lesser extent, "Burnout Legends" represent gaming at its most visceral and satisfactory.

Some will no doubt tsk tsk the game’s high level of destruction even though there’s not a drop of blood shed. But for anyone who has had to deal with an arrogant driver, these two games offer some sweet, and relatively benign, satisfaction.

Copyright The Patriot-News, 2005


At 9:50 AM, Anonymous xlpharmacy said...

I've got the same game, and it's the nicest one in my collection. I would like to read more tips about it, could you write-down something regarding this awesome video game?


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