Review: Burnout Revenge

October 15, 2006

The Sadistic Driving Simulator
Criterion / Xbox Playstation 2 / Everyone 10+

It’s odd how some of the biggest franchises in gaming started as mediocre before having their opus and being thrust into limelight. Series like Hitman, Hot Shots Golf, and even Grand Theft Auto started as flawed first tries and eventually lived up to their great potential in one of their sequels. Burnout is a perfect example of this phenomenon. After it became a huge hit with the third game in the series: Takedown. The hardest thing for these series is living up to expectations after their breakout game. The key is solid if not spectacular and that perfectly describes Burnout: Revenge.

In terms of story things haven’t changed since Takedown. Go around the world and destroy things with your car; all the while being egged on by an annoying sadist on your radio. The only difference in that aspect is that now the annoying sadist is a woman and is slightly less annoying. What is truly different in the one-player portion of the game is the structure of the Burnout World Tour. Now the events go in levels and, the levels range in difficulty based on your rank. Ranks are from 1(harmless) to 11(Elite). There is also a better mix of events on the world tour now; whereas in Takedown, crash mode ruled the tour.

Aside from the new cars and world tour changes, the main differences between Takedown and Revenge lie in the gameplay itself. All the changes are outlined in the opening video and, while they may not be revolutionary, they do add to the depth of the game modes and racing. First, drivers now have the ability to “check” traffic. This means that as long as they don’t hit vehicles: head-on, from the side, or that are too large, drivers can bounce pesky cars out of the way, and into the paths of rivals, without crashing themselves. This new mechanic is even the focus of it’s own gameplay mode. In Traffic Attack, drivers must check as many cars as they can in a certain time to rack up damage money and earn more time, a fun diversion.

By far the biggest gameplay changes have been made to the fan-favorite crash mode. Now each crash “junction”, as they’re called, has multiple vehicles to choose from. You can go with the heavy trucks for more damage or the speedier race-type cars for more air and momentum. There is also a power bar at the beginning to determine how fast your start will be and a target car that gives extra points if it’s crashed into. What’s more, the “crashbreakers” that explode your car after accumulating so much wreckage must now be charged up for a larger blast radius. Last but not least the junctions themselves have been expanded to larger areas and multiple levels, making them more challenging and fun.

Other changes have been made to sophisticate the previously unremarkable pure racing modes. Every track is littered with shortcuts, alternate routes, and big air opportunities, all making for more cerebral racing. Also, in the theme of the game, anyone who takes you down is marked with red and revenge is truly sweet as more points are awarded for taking down that person.

All these changes are intended to fix the few complaints people had with Takedown and they do accomplish that. The only problem is that they unfortunately, made the game less accessible in the process. It is not nearly as easy to pick up and play anymore and some of the changes take serious time to master. Compounding this problem is the fact that modes like Crash and Road Rage can no longer be played only with the CPU or one’s self. They require either a friend or online play and, cut down on the pick-up-and-play factor that has served Burnout so well in the past.

Revenge can’t take the world by storm as Takedown did, and game of the year nominations will not be forthcoming. Sadly, the renown also took Burnout away from its focus on the casual gamer. They will need to find that focus again before they can truly perfect their series. Revenge is, at the same time, both one step forward and one step back.

By Zack Rovinsky

Burnout Revenge


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