in a videogame has never been more encouraged…and
such rewarding too!
The racing genre is one that
seems easy to work with. There is a wealth
(perhaps an overabundance) of games from
which to choose. Each of these games have
a variation on a simple engine - go fast,
reach point "B" from point "A" first. Some
of the variations on videogame racing engines
include cars that hover over the ground (such
as the Wipeout series) or how vehicles behave
on certain types of terrain (such as RalliSport
Traditionally, the more complex
a racing game, the more things go wrong.
Usually by adding in so many "bells and whistles" a
developer or publisher lose sight of the
original intent of a racing game. Acclaim
brings us Burnout, a game that strips away
some of the various modes (or "bells and
whistles") in favor of adding not filler,
but full traffic. Burnout keeps things basic,
but not simple.
"Burnout spectacularly showcases a seemingly infinite number of ways to crash
There isn't a lot of evolution
within the racing genre that can happen.
The graphics can get more realistic, the
cars can get more detailed, you can mess
with the number of laps required to finish
a course, but overall, the genre consists
of "Go that way. Really fast. If something
gets in your way... turn." Burnout takes
that basic premise, and doesn't change it;
the game has another layer added onto it.
This layer comes in two parts: real-time
traffic, and spectacular crash physics.
Players take on other computerized
racers in some obviously illegal races through
various urban areas. Some areas are more
populated than others, and traffic will increase
or decrease to reflect that. While the racing
modes are rather standard, it is the execution
of these and the implementation of the traffic
that truly sets this game apart.
The "meat" of the game is
the championship courses - a series of races
that if successfully completed will unlock
further courses. These courses range from
highways to winding narrow roads to bustling
cities - each teeming with life in the form
of traffic (oddly, there are no pedestrians).
Traffic actually moves, if a course runs
through a city, you have to watch out for
cross traffic at the intersections, cars
will exit/enter the freeway, and cars will
pass each other.
This adds considerably to
the depth of the game. Instead of memorizing
one of the courses, you have traffic patterns
to deal with, which are not always the same.
Weaving in and out of traffic is much harder
than racing on a closed circuit. When you
crash (and you will crash) it takes
some time to recover and get back on the
road, making you further behind - no, the
clock doesn't stop just because you zigged
when you should have zagged.
When you are blazing down
the road at over 100 mph, one slight miscalculation
on a windy mountain road can spell the difference
between life and death. Burnout spectacularly
showcases a seemingly infinite number of
ways to crash your car. The realism of the
crashes is particularly satisfying when a
multiple car pile-up happens after rear-ending
one lone car on the freeway.
Cars will spin, jump, flip,
and perform all sorts of other neat tricks
upon collision. Different speeds and points
of impact will affect how the crash is played
out. While other games may claim to have
spectacular crashes, Burnout truly delivers
in this area. It's fun just to drive around
the different locations seeing what kind
of accidents you can cause. It's really fun
to cause another racer to rear end a bus
by ramming into him at the last second.
Cars handle rather well with
difficulty levels represented by the cars
you are able to drive instead of actually
choosing AI difficulty. Unfortunately, there
aren't a lot of discernable differences between
the cars other than handling. It would have
been nice to see a few attributes given to
each available car, such as handling, speed,
etc. Further cars are unlocked by competing
in one-on-one challenges, which are further
unlocked by the Championship Mode.
Each of the cars are nondescript,
there are no officially licensed cars here.
This is a good thing, because that has allowed
the developer not to get bogged down with
attempting to replicate a series of specific
cars and worrying about leaving any cars
out of the game. The developer has been free
to work on the great physics engine complete
with moving (and realistic) traffic, spectacular
crashes, and a solid racing game to boot.
The sound is decent - it gets
the job done, but doesn't stretch the boundaries
in the same way that the gameplay does. Unfortunately,
user created soundtracks aren't supported,
and what music there is, isn't terribly great.
The sound effects however, are outstanding.
The squeal of the tires as the moment of
impact arrives (not to mention the crunch
of the metal) is as realistic as they come.
Multiplayer in Burnout is
a little lackluster, since the game only
sports enough coding for 2 players. This
is the Xbox with 4 controller ports. And
LAN support is absent as well. This is a
game where hooking up the LAN and having
8 or more people race in a series would have
been outstanding. Hopefully Acclaim will
remedy this with the sequel.
The modes in Burnout leave
a little to be desired. You have your standard
Championship Mode (with a series of races
to be conquered), Single Race (hitting the
open road on any unlocked course), Time Attack
(beat the clock on any unlocked course) and
Head To Head (where you and up to... one
other person can race). There are also Face
Off (where you unlock other vehicles) and
Survival Mode (one crash and it's over).
A few other modes would have been welcome,
particularly in the multiplayer portion of
"Cars will spin, jump, flip, and perform all sorts of other neat tricks upon
Another way that this title
stands out from the crowd is it's scoring
system. Sure, there's the standard keeping
track of fastest time, but additionally,
Burnout keeps track of how much damage is
created on a given course (amongst other
things). You may find yourself trying to
get through a course just to get the highest
damage total, but be careful not to run out
of time (remember, each crash wastes precious
seconds). Unfortunately, only three letters
are allowed on the scoreboard. This is something
else that should get remedied in the sequel.
Each of the current crop of consoles has
the capabilities for players to enter full
names, and Burnout should be no different.
There is the opportunity
to save selected crashes, and replay them
at your leisure. This is particularly useful
when attempting to show off to your friends "No,
I'm the worst driver. Take a look at this
Though the number of tracks
in the game may be few, and there isn't a
heck of a lot to unlock, this game will provide
many hours of fun. If you're something of
a gearhead, you may find this title disappointing,
but if you're looking for a straight adrenaline
rush, then Burnout is definitely the game
Daniel "monk" Pelfrey
Has been playing Burnout ever since he got his license. Only now he plays
Burnout isn't a game for everybody. This doesn't have
the depth that PGR has, but it does provide a great (and
exhilarating) racing experience. There will be times
when you get so frustrated you'll throw the controller
down in frustration, but 5 minutes later you're picking
it back because the game is not only challenging, but