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GENRE: Racing
March 07, 2006

Burnout Paradise

Burnout Paradise

Burnout Paradise

Burnout 3: Takedown

Burnout Dominator

More in this Series
 Written by Adam Woolcott  on March 13, 2006

Review: Revenge has never looked so sweet

I know what you're thinking ? here we are, another port of a current generation game, ported to the Xbox 360 with little to separate it from the version that's cheaper and older. Just another port on a console that's already seen enough ports, in the same way Dreamcast had too many half-assed ports and not enough new games to draw in gamers hedging on a next generation plunge. But don't fear; though Burnout Revenge technically is a port from the Xbox and PlayStation 2 versions, it's not just a simple copy/paste with a slight graphical touchup; they actually spent time with the game and crafted some new stuff to go along with the old, great stuff. As such this is one of the best ports you can buy, especially if you've managed to hold out on picking up Revenge before. It's not new mind you, but for a conversion from older hardware it's about as classy as you can get. A great game is a great game though, and Burnout Revenge is definitely a great game, and thus a worthy addition to the young library of the Xbox 360. You do want to experience the fastest racing game created by man, right?

Generally Burnout Revenge retains most of the same concepts introduced in the original version; including the still-unusual lack of a 'single race' setup for a single player. Online has received a large overhaul, with an obvious emphasis on revenge. It sort of works like a reverse buddy list ? if you take out another car, they become your rival, and you become a target for revenge. The same goes if someone takes you out; your new rival gets a fancy indicator over their car that they're a rival, and you're rewarded for taking them out. It's a pretty neat concept that lets you keep tabs on other players, making it easier to recognize people you've been matched up with previously. Also this 360 version of Revenge has something called 'save and share' which lets you record crazy moments, in a 30 second bite, and upload it to EA's servers for your friends and random Xbox Live members to download, view, and share with their own circle of friends. However it seems the 30 second limit is a bit too conservative since most of the really good brutality takes a lot longer than that to unfold, especially if you know how to chain together a huge crash.

The single-player World Tour is basically the same thing as before, but just retitled after the various ranks you earn in the game, with 10 total tiers in all, each containing a wide range of events that emphasize all the different aspects of the Burnout experience. If you've played Revenge extensively before on PS2 or Xbox, you might even notice the progression is the exact same. Within, you get the typical basic races, Burning Lap time trials, Eliminator races that knockout cars every 30 seconds rather than every lap, Road Rage where the goal is to take out as many opponents as possible, Crash, and the brand new Traffic Attack that was designed to adjust Burnout veterans to the whole idea of banging traffic around to cause more destruction. Crash Mode was overhauled greatly when the current-generation Revenge came out, and it's been readjusted here as well. But not by much; the only real difference is that you don't need to use the Madden-style kicking meter before starting the junction, you just instead simply press A and off you go. Along with that, Criterion saw fit to include 10 new junctions, most of which are far more difficult than the original junctions.

The big change between Burnout 3 and Revenge is how traffic is dealt with. Before, hitting any traffic at all was a deadly sin, usually resulting in a major crash and a notch in the loss column as opponents breeze by. Now, you're allowed to smack around traffic; but only if it's small traffic going the same direction as you ? head on collisions are still deadly. It's not really just for show, as the main idea is to use traffic as a weapon by knocking cars into opponents for easy takedowns. This also plays into Crash events, as sometimes you'll need to hit traffic towards other lanes of traffic to cause an accident, while you go on and cause your own destruction, which adds a whole lot more strategy aside from trying to reach the multipliers, which were removed from Revenge. And as mentioned, Traffic Attack lets you smash all cars in your way, with the exception of large vehicles like semi trucks and fire engines. Because of this new wrinkle in the Burnout formula, there's a huge increase in traffic, to the point where later events are absolutely crawling with bystanders, and with far more large vehicles than you'd see in earlier events.

As Burnout Revenge is technically a port, it's not a surprise to see the game plays very similarly to previous versions. However, Criterion has done some tweaking to make things a bit more difficult. Mostly it revolves around how you interact with opponents; the cars are definitely a lot heavier feeling when you smack them around and aren't as easy to take down as before. It requires a lot more work and planning as your old tactics probably won't work. Compared to the original Revenge release, there's a larger emphasis on using the traffic for takedowns, as they are the easiest to score. Even in a Road Rage event, where previously the cars were a bit easier to take out, you might spend a lot of time using new strategy and moves ? generally far dirtier stuff. Along with that, there's the Crashbreaker effect; first introduced in the Burnout 3 Crash events, a Crashbreaker lets you detonate your car while others are around for instant payback. In regular races they can be used constantly, but in Road Rage, if you reach damage critical you're screwed. They don't start showing up until about halfway through the game, but they're pretty fun to bring into the mix. They're also in Crash events too, and can be used once you've built up a 'damage meter', which recharges with more destruction.

Aside from that change to the physics, nothing else has been altered, which is a good thing in most respects ? it plays very well even with the transition to a new console. Though many have complained that the new ability to smash traffic has made the game a bit too simple since the fear of crashing is reduced (myself included, but it's not so much complaining but making a comment), the 360 version more than makes up for it for one simple reason. It's fast. It's really, really fast. Not even Anakin Skywalker's pod racer was this fast; stuff just blurs by and quite often you might end up relying on instinct rather than knowledge of the tracks. It's always possible that you'll see a shortcut, try to go for it, but just don't have the time and wind up hitting a wall ? that's how fast the game is. It's the kind of game that gives you mere split-seconds to make a decision or a move, and hesitation can be disastrous. Though it's a port, Revenge is by far the fastest racing game on the 360 ? even faster than previously known, if you can believe it. Though there are no new tracks, the designs still are inventive and some of the best out there; the addition of shortcuts and alternate routes (some of which aren't shortcuts at all, that's why they're called alternate routes) makes for more depth than seen before, and many times they're necessary to beat some of the more difficult time trials.

Many of the general issues with Burnout haven't been resolved ? but most won't. Rubberband AI has been in racers for years and chances are won't ever go away long as arcade racers exist. Thankfully since Burnout 2, this has become increasingly less prevalent unless you force the issue by sucking. The lengthy load times are here and pretty much doubled from the original Revenge, so if you don't have the patience to sit through 20 second loads if you screw up a race, it might be a good idea to turn away from this version. At least you don't have to sit through reloads in a Crash event. And most aggravatingly, the random camera angles that pop up during a takedown or Crash even are still jarring and cause more trouble than you might expect. Nothing like getting a takedown, but the camera change to watch your handiwork takes you off your game, and thus run into a wall or another car since the focus was taken off. Or when in a Crash event and planning on which direction you'll send the car during a Crashbreaker, the camera shifts around and throws off your sense of direction. Not fun. All of these things can be dealt with and aren't game-breakers, but at the same time they detract from what is really an awesome game in a franchise that's really blossomed from its humble beginnings some 5 years ago.

In general, there's not enough here to entice most into double-dipping if you've already played Burnout Revenge (mostly casual fans of the series who have already moved on to other racers or those who didn't like it in the first place), but if you haven't had a chance to play it, the Xbox 360 version is the one to get, as this is the ultimate version of one of 2005's best driving games. Nothing was sacrificed from the original and the new stuff gives it the edge even at the $60 price tag, especially if you're into getting as much out of your Xbox 360 as possible. If you're really hardcore into Burnout and absolutely must have the primo version of the game ? this is it, and you definitely should give it a run in that case, since you can see the high-definition treatment this game so desperately deserves, and experience a game so fast that not even the Force can help you when a fast car is placed on a fast track with hordes of traffic and numerous shortcuts.

The strange thing about Burnout Revenge is that it was above and beyond what one could expect from the Xbox or PS2 in the visual department...the game pushed the hardware to limits not seen before. So perhaps Revenge won't be as 'wow' as you'd expect from the 360, but it gets it done and is next-gen in different ways other than pure technology. As mentioned the game is blisteringly fast, and a slick, speedy framerate of 60 never lets up, even when there's dozens of cars on the screen at once. Every area is designed to match their inspiration ? Motor City is gritty, Sunshine Keys is bright, sunny, and cheerful, Angel Valley is urban and environmentally challenged, etc. But it's amplified a few times over with more details, and much smoother, realistic details at that. There's hordes of particle effects and other marks of the destruction left in your wake, and the car designs are great, though the only real difference is more shine since they were fantastic a generation ago. However, the cars now show visible damage as they go through a race; paint wears off, windshields are busted, bumpers knocked off, and the like. They used to be only shown in crashes while the cars magically reappeared in perfect condition, but no more. Chances are by the end of a race your car will be in mighty bad shape.

EA didn't see fit to add or subtract anything from the EA Trax soundtrack, so the same Burnout Revenge song list is here. So, Bloc Party, Bravery, Morningwood, Junkie XL, LCD Soundsystem, et al. It's not all bad really, probably one of the better EA Trax setups in a while. Of course you can also use a custom soundtrack as per Xbox 360 standards. For those who haven't yet experienced Revenge, Stryker, the annoying turdhead who was one of Burnout 3's biggest mistakes, is nowhere to be seen, replaced by a female voice who explains some of the event types for newcomers, as well as narrate the introductory demo to the game...which has an uncanny resemblance to the old Star Wars: Special Edition movie trailer from 1997. The biggest Revenge upgrade is sound effects. Previously they were great, but on the 360 they're even better. The sounds of cars flying around, skidding after a collision, the sounds of fences breaking as you plow through, objects being scattered about, and of course, opponents bumping and grinding into each other. The game simply immerses you in audio. Turn off the music and race without it for a while, and you'll see what I mean.

Bottom Line
Perhaps you've been holding out for Burnout Revenge to hit the Xbox 360, shunning the 'last generation' versions even though you can get a copy now for half the price. If you've managed to hold out, I'd say it was a good decision, as you can experience Burnout Revenge in its ultimate incarnation. Intense speed, hordes of gametypes, a unique and in-depth online setup, and of course, next-generation visuals and high-definition presentation. Those who have had their Revenge fix need not apply unless they're mega hardcore, though really the temptation of seeing the franchise on next-gen hardware is alluring. If anything, Revenge is but a sample of what's possible when Criterion really sets their sights on the new round of powerful gaming hardware for the inevitable Burnout 5.

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