Burnout Dominator review


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Buy your copy from Amazon.com Burnout Dominator (2007) starstarstarstarno star Publisher: Electronic Arts
Category: Racing
Available for: PlayStation 2
Buy from Amazon.com

It’s nice to know that “Burnout Dominator” is just a stopgap “sequel” to “Burnout Revenge.” The true sequel to that game, “Burnout 5,” will appear on the next-gen consoles a little later down the line. In the meantime, “Dominator” is brought to you by the folks at EA UK on the PS2 and PSP. And while it still plays and feels like the great last entry into the series, there’s enough missing to stick out like a sore thumb when comparing the two.

“Burnout Dominator” gets back to the series’ roots by focusing more on the racing and less on plunging headlong into the other cars, causing as much destruction as possible. This time around, we’re back to the actual “burnout” itself, which occurs when the nitrous bar fills up and turns blue. Yep, this game is all about keeping that nitrous button pushed down almost constantly, so players can try to chain the burnouts. Successful chains result in burnout multipliers, which of course result in big scores. Players succeed in getting burnouts by driving into oncoming traffic and avoiding getting hit, drifting around wild turns and getting big air.

Thus, burning out is the crux of the game this time around. That’s fine and all, but once you’ve tasted the near-perfect balance of racing and destruction that was “Burnout Revenge,” you want that and the other stuff. Of course, we’ll have to see if that’s what we get with “Burnout 5.” Here on “Dominator,” not being able to check traffic willy nilly is definitely missed. Players will immediately notice that all that traffic has been minimized, with most of it appearing in the oncoming lanes, to facilitate the spawning of a burnout.

Also gone for some reason is the crash mode. Why? Crash mode is just as integral to a “Burnout” game as the speed. Instead, players get the all-new “Maniac” mode that requires drivers to go apeshit behind the wheel in an attempt to chain burnouts and reach predetermined scoring goals, unlocking more cars and the like. It’s interesting, but it’s no crash mode, and that’s a shame. Again, perhaps all these things will be coming together in the next proper sequel.

Online play has been eliminated on “Burnout Dominator,” which is fine, as playing the last game online was always a crap shoot, with gamer glitches galore and other network malfunctions (someone tell Sony that their free online isn’t worth it). There is local multiplayer, however, with the expected split screen competition. There’s also a party mode for you and all your friends to enjoy as well, so all is not completely lost here.

What remains is essential. The speed of the game is still nuts and it still glides smoothly without a hitch. Criterion’s engine is definitely tried and true and one of the best things to come out of arcade racing, period. The Crashbreaker and Aftertouch systems are still here as well, allowing for big explosions and complete control of your car’s carcass after it blows sky high. Signature takedowns are here as well, but this time they’ve been blended into the tracks to actually open up new shortcuts instead of just being hotspots on the track. This is a nice new feature that puts a good twist on something that was previously more or less just a bragging right.

Overall, “Burnout Dominator” is fun, but it could have been quite a bit more. Still, it is understandable that with the “real” sequel still due, this game wouldn’t have all the bells and whistles. But since that’s the case, it begs the question of why bother to even have two new “Burnout” games? One would expect that “Burnout 5” could be ported back to the PS2 in some form, but maybe not. After all, that system’s going to have to finally have its support cut someday. That is, if Sony wants to stop being its own biggest competitor.

~Jason Thompson