IGN Review of Burnout Revenge
You have got to hand it to Criterion. The developer said it asked Microsoft four times to hook up backward compatibility on the 360 for the best arcade-racing franchise in console history, and with little results. Screw it, said Criterion. Let's make a 360 version of Burnout Revenge instead.
And why not? One could argue that Burnout Revenge is a game so addictively fast, so good looking and sounding and playing that it teetered on the verge of next-generation gaming anyway. To all of you other developers out there, this is how you port a current-gen game to the 360. Criterion utilizes the full power of the 360 in the sound and graphics department while keeping intact the smooth, 60 frames per second that Burnout fans have become accustomed to. The environs and cars have all been spruced up to high-definition goodness, the licensed soundtrack is filled with pedal-to-the-metal hits and is among the best out there, and the control and speed of Revenge is as sublime as ever.
Still, none of this is a huge jump over the current-gen Burnout Revenge, but that's more of a compliment to how Criterion pushed the Xbox and PS2 to their technical limits than it is a knock on the 360 version of Burnout. This game is faster than PGR3, looks better than Need for Speed Most Wanted, smokes Ridge Racer in the control department and it leaves Full Auto in the dust.
So is there anything that can slow down this next-gen gem? While a minor complaint, the load times are about twice as long as the Xbox version, but keep in mind that the Xbox clocked in at an amazing 10 seconds. Twenty seconds is not a long wait for the amazing speeds and environments you'll experience only moments later, but it's worth noting when you put the 360 version head-to-head with the Xbox version. In previous versions, you could also button-through the after-race results, the trophy presentations and the unlocked cars sequences. Not here. You'll be privy to every single star you earn after every single race. You get to watch every Burnout trophy be presented. You get to see every made-up car from every angle when you unlock it.
Of course, it's early in the lifespan of the Xbox 360. Back when the PS2 launched, you could mow your lawn while some games booted up. Developers are still learning the tricks of the trade and loading times are going to improve, but as it stands, Burnout Revenge features an acceptable wait of 20 seconds and still loads faster than many of the games on the 360 at this time.
All of that aside, Burnout Revenge is an outstanding gameplay experience, the same outstanding experience you've seen in the past. So let's talk about what's new for the Xbox 360.
Going Next Gen
There's obviously the high-definition experience. Burnout Revenge looks great on 720p and surprisingly good on 1080i as well. You would think that a game as fast as Burnout with sparks and busses flying left and right would have a bit of trouble with the interlaced scan, but we didn't notice a problem at all. On the same TV on a different input, we had the Xbox version of Burnout Revenge running at the same time. Head to head, you can see that Burnout was born for a high-definition setup. The colors are so crisp and vibrant that they blow away the Xbox version, which already looked great.
The sound effects are blistering and fit the style of the game perfectly. A great example is the Crashbreaker explosion. Remember in the Kurt Russell movie Backdraft when the fire is hiding in the walls of a house and the unsuspecting victim comes home, jiggles his keys, unlocks the front door and the fire sucks up the oxygen from outside before blowing the poor attorney into the windshield of his car 20 yards away? Hiss-BOOM! That's a Crashbreaker explosion, and it rocks. The positional sound is great as well and a fantastic incentive to juice up that surround sound system.
The same licensed soundtrack returns and it still completely rocks. It's a techno/punk mix, but you'll be hard-pressed to find a song that doesn't make you want to tap your foot. You've also got to give props to Steve Schnur, EA's Worldwide Executive of Music and Audio. When he was signing the 40-plus songs for this edition of EA Trax, he knew which songs were going to be hits before they were hits. Sure enough, months later, we're driving to work and hear not one, not two, but three consecutive songs from Burnout Revenge on the radio. Unwritten Law, Fall Out Boy, Yellowcard... the list goes on. Addmittedly, EA has put out a few stinkers in the EA Trax department, but this mix complements the hair-raising action of Burnout Revenge.
Updated graphics and sound aside, Criterion spent 60 percent of the development cycle upgrading the online modes with the new Live Revenge and Save and Share features. While not a giant leap forward, Live Revenge is a step in the right direction in terms of next-generation online play. At the beginning of each online race, the game will flash to the overall points leader. He'll start in the lead because, well, he's earned it, and you're given an extra opponent to gun for. Also, if you've tangled against any of these opponents before and taken them down or vice versa, they will be named your Revenge Rivals. You can unlock achievements when you even the score with these rivals, and if you tangle with them enough, the rival is upgraded to arch rival, then nemesis.
No, Live Revenge doesn't revolutionize online racing or anything, but the added achievements from taking out rivals, as well as the added incentive of smashing into some scrubby teen that took you out last week, is immensely satisfying. Being able to track your rivals in the online menu lets you keep tabs on your nemeses and makes Burnout Revenge more than just a log-on-and-race experience.
Save and Share is a feature that has potential in terms of creating an online community for Burnout. After each single-player World Tour race, a replay begins. You can fast-forward through the entire race and begin recording a clip of up to 30 seconds in length at any point. Then you can save the clip to your hard drive and upload it to EA's servers. From there, your friends and Revenge Rivals can view your awesomeness on the road and you can do the same with their uploaded clips. What's more, EA will keep tabs of the top 20 downloaded clips and also run contests for the best crashes and takedowns. It may not sound like a big deal, but Save and Share is right in line with Microsoft's goal to make the 360 a true online console with an online community. A lot of developers could take a page from these features. Imagine in Fight Night Round 3 if you had the ability to keep tabs of your online rivals, especially since EA made such a big deal about the new rivalry feature in the game. Look for a lot of future titles to make similar strides forward in online play.
The other online features are standard fare: ranked or unranked races in a variety of gamemodes including Race, Road Rage, Crash, Crash Tour and Crash Battle. We played a few races online today without any lag at all, but we'll see how it performs when hundreds of other gamers are clogging up the servers at the same time. With up to six people in any given race, things can get pretty fun and hairy, especially in the team-based Road Rage mode.
The rest of Burnout Revenge is stuff you probably already know. If you're new to the series, then get ready for the fastest arcade-racer you've ever seen. The new feature in Burnout Revenge is traffic checking, which is the ability to smash into same-way traffic and send busses and vans and sedans flying into buildings, other cars and your opponents. In the new Traffic Attack mode, you continually bang into this traffic, causing monetary damage and angering a lot of insurance agents out there. As this damage piles up, you fill a time meter. The clock continually ticks against you and if you don't plow through enough traffic, then the clock runs out and you're finished. Unfortunately, this mode is relatively easy and a bit boring, really, when compared to the Road Rage modes and even the normal race modes.
Road Rage also operates on a timer but this time it's your job to take out opposing racers using traffic, walls and famous landmarks. A personal favorite in the Eternal City is the Arch Rivals signature takedown when you push an enemy driver into the walls of an ancient Roman arch. There are countless signature takedowns hidden throughout the game and you'll enjoy them all. There are a few different race modes. In some you go forward. In others you drive in the opposite direction. There are Eliminator races in which the last-place driver is eliminated after a certain time limit, like musical chairs meeting vehicular combat. While not dramatically different, each of these modes make the game feel a lot bigger than it is, and it will take you an eternity to finish each event with a perfect rating. To reach 100 percent of this game is a feat few gamers will ever reach, and that's a good thing.
The star of Burnout, besides the amazing framerate and sense of speed, is the course design. There are multiple paths to choose from that include dangerous shortcuts and a variety of jumps. Criterion created a ton of chokepoints in which traffic bottle-necks together, and it's kill or be killed so there is no shortage of takedowns. Takedowns are huge because they fill your boost meter and allow you to go Mach-2 with your hair on fire. Without the boost, you'll wave to your opponents as they speed by.
There is a tremendous variety to the tracks too. You'll speed past the Coliseum and Roman gardens in the Eternal City venue, knocking caf? tables and chairs out of the way as you go. In White Mountain, you drive through a European mountain village with winding S-turns and open highway. Then you get to the village and jump through tight cobblestoned streets. The great thing about all the tracks is that it doesn't help that much if you've raced them before. There is still tremendous tension as you dodge telephone poles and oncoming traffic and all the little things Criterion included to make you crash. Knowing the shortcuts will help a bit but only stellar control will allow you to get through a race unscathed -- by stellar, we mean perfect.
The Crash mode returns and the 360 brings with it 10 new crash junctions. The current-gen version featured a "golf" meter that decided your acceleration speed. That has been removed, probably for the best. Now you start at full-speed every time and you can immediately look for the best way to instigate maximum carnage instead of worrying about your speedometer. There are endless combinations of crashes to be performed over the complicated, twisting, multilayered crash junctions. On the more difficult ones, you'll need to cause a big crash, fill up your Crashbreaker meter, then explode to a street below to hit your target car. The Crash mode is a great diversion to the traditional racing modes and shows off some giant explosion effects and car deformation effects exclusive to the 360.
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