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Burnout Revenge Review
Racing games from EA! Racing games have been one of the genres I have consistently dabbled in more than regularly played, but I figured it was high time I do something for the Xbox section, and reviewing a racing game seemed like a "why not" kind of choice. I certainly chose one that fits my video game driving skills well, since Burnout Revenge, while at times challenging, removes the majority of those annoying hassles (breaking well on turns, not hitting shit) into either non-problems or occasional advantages. That the entire nature of the game rotates around highly aggressive driving, and to a lesser extent, good car bombing skills (GET JACK THOMPSON ON THE PHONE) also fits the fact that the first racing game I played was Road Rash 64. Okay, so there're no guys on bikes with chains here, but the idea remains. Killing your opponent's usually a better idea than just passing him. That said I was, overall, pleased by this game, which beyond the extremely, well, homosexual soundtrack proved to be a pleasant surprise from the bowels of the Evil EmpireŽ of publishing.
Burnout's premise rotates around arcade style racing combined with road rage skills that not even Chicago drivers can match. Races descend into something like the comic form of chariot races, where scythed blades are used to tear off opponent's wheels. Except in Burnout the scythed blade is replaced by on coming traffic. Since the difference in speed between the lowest end and highest end cars is around 50 mph, most times the player won't be facing cars that he is either 5 mph faster or slower than. As such, only by "taking down" (fancy folk talk for killing) opponents will the player be able to win the race. This is further emphasized by the burnout meter, a charge bar that allows the player to boost, gaining about 20 mph of speed. Only by using this boost can the player maintain a lead over the other racers, and, surprise surprise, it's charged by taking down opponents. (On a side note, I was disappointed that every time I hit the boost button some Japanese man didn't yell, "YOU'VE GOT BOOST POWER!") The need to balance between staying in the pack to get plenty of takedowns and boosting ahead is key to winning most race forms, and can lead to many different tactics. Burnout: Revenge is definitely not short on ways to crush the player's opponents, from the standard "push them into on coming traffic" to my personal favorite "find a way to fall on top of them". Each track also offers up three signature ways to decimate the enemy, which include places to drive them off cliffs, etc. Successfully unlocking more content rotates around getting medals for placing in the top 3 of a race (or meeting other objectives) along with being as insane as possible along the way. While usually the two were synonymous, it added a nice touch of challenge to the game making me have to constantly ask "can I be more aggressive in my driving?" Needless to say, this can only end in my killing someone in real life with my van of doom.
In terms of variety of race, Burnout Revenge offers up eight tracks, each having enough roadway to simulate 3 or 4 different courses for a total of 26 different courses. Not only was I satisfied with the amount of venues, but the variety of racing methods as well. For the less violent minded the game offered up a simple lap mode which pushes the player to have actually good driving skills. Then there's the standard multi-lap race which involves a blend of vehicular manslaughter charges and racing, and it's longer form the Grand Prix, which carries the player over multiple tracks. For those who want less racing and even more death the game offers a mode centered only on taking down as many enemy racers in the time limit given. For the even more carnage driven, the game offers what is nothing short of a car bombing mode, in which the player attempts to crash his car into as much as possible, before exploding it in heavy traffic. It's like real life in Iraq! There's also a mild variation of the mode in which the player tries to rear end as many cars as possible in the time given. The final, and my personal favorite mode, is eliminator, in which every thirty seconds the racer in last place is removed, for here is the best balance between careful driving and skillful slaughter.
My opinion's fairly mixed about the cars available. Out of the 77 available, many are repaints (with minor improvements) of the two starter models. That is to say the most likely thing a player will receive upon say, completing a level with a gold, is the car he was just racing in, only with a 5 mph higher speed, and a more "badass" paint job. For those people who are straight out collection-philes wanting to get as many things as possible this won't be much of an issue, many unique cars are unlockable by completing side goals any time a race takes place on a certain course (i.e. never crash while racing, kill someone in a creative manor). However for those of us who want to beat the game, and beat it well, the nature of what cars are unlocked by doing what means we will probably be staring at the same mild variation of a car for the majority of the game. It doesn't take a ton away from the game, but a little more diversity from simply winning races would have been nice.
The music, on the other hand, had nothing nice about it. While the mute button may save me from my woes, the fact of the matter is EA does more to piss off the player with poor audio taste than, say, challenge on most levels. This game presents plenty of emo music with Fall Out Boy, a band synonymous with determining how angsty you are, on a scale of Linkin Park Rocks to JESUS CHRIST JUST KILL YOURSELF ALREADY. Beyond that the soundtrack (dubbed EA Traxs in game) also pitches plenty whinny rock bands of no distinction that neither intensify (hard rock) or ghettofy (rap) the driving experience. Also, on a note of personal disgust, EA included a very homosexual remix of a KMFDM song, but not the song itself. WHY MUST YOU TOY WITH ME EA?!
Beyond the music I encountered only two other small annoyances. Whenever a player takes down an enemy racer he is rewarded with a slow motion clip of their painful death, however during the clip's playing out, time passes. And when time passed, the player's car moves. And sometimes the player's car moves towards certain doom. While I enjoyed the moment of triumph feel of watching my opponent, say, spiral off a cliff to certain death, the fact that I soon followed because I wasn't able to steer my car while contemplating their untimely demise annoyed me to no end. Other times the time delay would cause me to pop out in front of, say, buses or sometimes a concrete wall. The game tries to compensate by making the player seemingly immortal for a second or two after the cutscene fads, but this can cause even further problems by allowing situations that should kill the player (a corner) to simply trap him, forcing either a restart of the race, or a timely backing up. In general I would have liked a "press A to skip" button during the brief cutscenes, so when I want to relish death, I can, and when I just want to race, I can do that as well. The other annoyance also comes during takedowns, and that is I have, on a few rare occasions, have clipped through the walls of the level upon either being taken down, or taking someone else down. Needless to say, Nixon no like clipping issues.
For the single player experience only paying 50 bucks for Burnout Revenge would be overkill, but once it drops to 30-40 it's certainly worth a pick up for those of us who enjoy arcade-y racing games. Or killing. Or both.
How many needles of black tar heroin to make this game good?: 2,
thanks to the soundtrack.