|Burnout Revenge (2005)
Publisher: Electronic Arts
Available for: Xbox 360, Xbox, PlayStation 2
The racing genre has come a long way over the past decade. With simulation driving games looking and feeling more real, and arcade racers introducing new twists every year, no racing game has been more daring than the “Burnout” series by Electronic Arts. Continuing to provide an outlet for the destructive driver in all of us, “Burnout Revenge” has a hard time improving on the near-flawless “Takedown” title from last year, but still manages to impress by making an exhausted gimmick feel brand new. With an added gameplay mode, a smarter A.I. system and better tracks, “Burnout Revenge” is already shaping up to be one of the best titles of the year.
The basics are still the same (race, crash, and score lots of points), but the single-player World Tour mode has been tweaked for a slightly different experience. Instead of jumping around a world map and simply winning a bunch of medals, the new gameplay element breaks down the various challenges into ten different ranks. Stars are earned during each individual event depending on how well you’ve driven the course (Good, Great, Perfect, etc.), and the respective medal you receive for that event is then factored into the final score. A bronze medal decreases your final star rating by one, a silver medal keeps it the same, and a gold medal will add one star to your total. Each rank requires a certain number of stars before it is unlocked, and after doing so, a brand new set of challenges will be available to the player.
Possibly the biggest change in “Revenge” is the ability to crash into same-way traffic, though it is restrained to small and medium-sized cars only. In doing so, the player can earn points, strengthen their boost bar, or even use them against their opponents in order to cause an infamous slo-mo Takedown. Having to keep an eye on what traffic you can and cannot smash definitely adds a level of difficulty, but there isn’t as much oncoming traffic to deal with this time around. The most dangerous element of the gameplay is actually in the tracks themselves, which have been made more complex with the addition of shortcuts and alternate routes, as well as plenty of extra lane barriers to smash into.
The Road Rage and Burning Lap events have remained more or less the same, but the Crash levels have endured a major makeover for the worst. It is now much more difficult to rack up points with the removal of cash multipliers, and instead of collecting a boost bonus at the beginning of the level, you have to learn a whole new system that involves pressing the A button at certain points in a semi-circle bar. The act feels a lot closer to kicking a field goal in “Madden” or swinging a club in “Tiger Woods.” And then there’s the possibility that your engine will explode, or stall, in which case you must start the event all over again. I know that EA is trying to make the game seem more fun by adding spurts of comedy into the gameplay, but this is almost as bad as the QB Vision control in the more recent “Madden 06.” It lends absolutely nothing to the evolution of the franchise, so why is it there?
The multiplayer and online modes are just about how you’d expect them, with no big changes to speak of, and the soundtrack features an awesome lineup of songs from Bloc Party, Fall Out Boy, Tsar, and the Bravery, as well as a remix version of The Doors “Break On Through (To the Other Side).” And while the music behind the series continues to play a major part in its success, the gameplay is ultimately what makes this racing title unique from the countless games that flood the market each year. While “Revenge” looks to improve on its predecessor (perhaps the best racing title in the history of the genre) with new features and enhanced A.I., it also impairs its development with a few unnecessary changes that fans may not approve of. But when push comes to shove, “Burnout Revenge” is still the king of the hill.