In its time the Burnout series has seen numerous changes, but there are a few things which have stayed the same throughout. All Burnout games are amazingly quick, ultra destructive but most importantly immensely fun to play. The peak of the series so far is the most recent Burnout 3: Takedown, released just over a year ago.
Making a sequel to such a successful game is never an easy job but the Criterion Production team took just over a year of time to do their magic and now they give us Burnout Revenge. So what's new? How good is the latest instalment of Criterion's all action arcade racing thriller? Can it takedown its opponents or will it simply crash and burn?
The steaming hot Burnout recipe remains perfectly intact but with a few spicy new ingredients added to keep things fresh. 'Traffic Checking' is the first major new addition. You can now hit innocent same-way traffic into your opponents to take them out, but be careful not to hit large trucks or busses because they cannot be Traffic Checked, you will wreck your car trying. Traffic Checking is so much fun that there is an entire new mode devoted to it, this is called 'Traffic Attack'. The main objective of Traffic Attack is to cause as much damage as possible using the Traffic Checking move. The more carnage you cause the better your score, but there is a time limit which counts down too. You can increase this time limit only by Traffic Checking effectively, ultimately this means you can end up with some stupendous scores if you keep your concentration long enough without wrecking your vehicle.
The second massive difference between this and Burnout 3 is the added complexity of the level design. Burnout 3 levels had you driving around a track through a busy city, but Burnout Revenge's levels will have you whizzing through urban mazes scrapping to find the quickest route. That's right, for the first time in Burnout there are now alternate routes and shortcuts to hunt down giving skilled players a considerable advantage. These shortcuts can be a great way to bring back a dead race but don't come without there own challenges.
The last major change is the total redesign of Crash mode. Before it was a case of simply aiming your car at any power-ups and ramming into the biggest vehicles around to cause the most chaotic pile up possible. Now things have been made a little more interesting, the power-ups have been replaced with a 'Target Car' to include in the crash for a mega bonus and now you have to button bash to get a 'Crashbreaker' explosion. The brand new 'launch control' and wind features also help make the newly designed Crash mode the most exciting and involving yet.
Fans of the series will be happy to know that despite the new and modified game modes the bare bones of original Burnout still exist. Despite the addition of a few new moves the takedown system is nearly exactly the same. The Handling is also virtually identical to any of the previous Burnout games meaning every fan should feel instantly at home with Revenge.
If you have never played or even heard of Burnout where have you been for the last four years? Burnout has always been about ultra high-speed arcade racing and traffic mayhem. Burnout Revenge should appeal to anyone looking for a tonic to simulation-style gameplay. Fed up with being taken out by over aggressive AI? Now's your chance to get your own back, Burnout encourages dirty and reckless driving.
The bulk of Burnout Revenge's single player fun takes place in its 'World Tour' mode. This is broken up into 11 rank-levels which you progress through as you acquire points. To gain points in Burnout Revenge you have to drive recklessly doing things such as taking out your enemies, driving on the wrong side of the road, sliding round corners and many other insanely risky driving manoeuvres. These are the same types of things you would do to fill up your ultra valuable boost meter. You will be given a star rating at the end of the race depending on how dangerously you drove. The star ratings can range from 1 'Ok' to 4 'Awesome'. If you get a gold medal on top of that you can get the full 5 star 'Perfect' rating. If you consistently get the 4 or 5 star ratings you will soon find yourself levelling up fast and unlocking later stages of the game.
As you progress through the game you will not only unlock beautiful new cars and race on new tracks but you will also find more exciting variations of game mode becoming available. Crashbreaker races are a good example of this. They are introduced at rank level 5 of the World Tour. When you wreck in a normal race you get 'Aftertouch' control to try and take out any AI opponents just behind you. Crashbreaker races allow you to explode your car every time you crash, meaning you have the chance to get 'Explosive Payback' on not only the car that took you out but any others near by as well. Crashbreaker races are just one example of the way the game eases you into the action as you progress through the World Tour mode. Criterion use these incentives to encourage completion of the said tour.
The World Tour takes place over 169 different stages including Crash, Race, Traffic Attack, Road Rage and other events. There are also Signature Takedowns and extra challenges to keep you amused as you progress. It's certainly not an easy ride but there are massive rewards for achieving high standards in Burnout Revenge. Elite players will want to go for the Perfect 5 star rating on all events and complete every challenge, and should you wish to take this tempting offer Burnout Revenge will keep you amused for at least 40 hours. If not, the game should still take in excess of 20 hours to complete.
Graphically Burnout games have always looked fantastic thanks to a 60fps frame rate and top class blur effects which really help to convey the mesmerising sense of speed. There's not an awful lot of difference graphically between this and Burnout 3, they both have a very similar artistic style. The cars look a little better and although they aren't actual licensed cars, the models are highly believable and do look rather cool overall. Revenge's environments also tend to look a little smoother around the edges than Burnout 3's.
While graphics are a big part of Burnout's sense of speed, Revenge reminds us with its exciting 'Whoosh' sounds that the key to this goes deeper than just the graphics. The screeching of cars, the ultra crisp engine noises and of course the clatter of a prize pileup all help make the game what is its. The soundtrack was always a point for debate in Burnout 3. Some of us loved it, others hated it. Burnout Revenge's soundtrack is very similar. It features mainly rock music, such as CKY, Funeral for a Friend and Emanuel with the odd bit of break beat music from Chemical Brothers, Andy Hunter and a few others chucked in for good measure. If this isn't your thing you will be happy to know the Xbox version features custom soundtracks.
Burnout Revenge offers decent online play. Online you can play Race, Road Rage, Crash party, Crash Tour and Crash battle modes. This section also offers ELO ranking and scoreboard tracking. A separate online progression system determines the levels and cars available as you play. While Burnout 3 was amazingly fun to play online it was awfully buggy due to EA's game servers, in the main. Although Burnout Revenge also uses EA servers they aren't nearly as many problematic this time around meaning Burnout Revenge is a great place to hang out online. Ultimately the game seems a little more at home in single player however, because of the slow-mo features which can often get taken for granted.
Overall Burnout Revenge is an exciting new chapter in the Burnout series. The Traffic Checking and trackside shortcuts gives Revenge a little more of a complex feel to the high speed simplistic madness of the series so far. While it could be argued Burnout Revenge isn't quite as revolutionary for its time as Burnout 3 was just over a year ago, Revenge is overall just as good if not a better game. There are few other games to really compete with the Burnout series so far which is another major reason why Burnout Revenge is a must for fans of the sub-genre.