Burnout Revenge Retrospective Review
I hadn’t intended to revisit the Burnout franchise so soon after taking a look at Burnout Crash, but I got inspired by X2Eliah’s comparison piece between Burnout Paradise and Need For Speed: Hot Pursuit.
Burnout Revenge is an arcade-style car driving game that was developed by Criterion Games and published by EA. It came out for Playstation 2 and XBox in September of 2005, received good review scores and sold almost 1 and a half million copies, which I would call respectable.
The one I played though was the XBox 360 HD version which came out in March 2006 and has sold a little over 400 000 copies, but scored slightly less than its older brethren. I have tried the original XBox version at a friend’s, which is how I first got interested in the game, and I found the 360 version to be an improvement in every way.
If you just want to get the game without having to read the review, you can find it on the Games On Demand part of the XBox Live Marketplace. (Along with Burnout Paradise.)
Now as a disclaimer: I have not tried the multiplayer at all, I have only played the World Tour mode, which is like the “campaign”, or career mode, if you prefer. So I’ll simply be covering the different race modes (or events as the game calls them) and other things pertaining to the single-player.
Now the first thing I noticed when I started the game back up re-familiarise myself with it was the language selection screen. The languages are English, Dutch, Spanish, Swedish and Finnish, which I find to be a curious mix. Then follows an introduction video narrated by a pleasant-sounding woman to introduce the game. A little pretentious, and it feels too much like a “Buy this game!” trailer at the start of the game you’ve already bought, but I’m sure some people would find it useful.
Enough of that though, on to the game! The first thing you’ll notice upon enterting the World Tour is that the game seems to rely heavily upon unlockables. It starts you at Harmless Rank with only a few events available, and you have to earn stars and complete events to unlock new events and new ranks and new cars. Each map even has a special challenge sheet and takedown album that you can complete to unlock special cars. It’s a completionist’s dream, or nightmare, depending on their skill with driving games.
The challenge sheet is fair enough, as it simply lists some stuff to do, and maps do repeat in different ranks with different kinds of events so a good strategist should be able to pick the right event to get the box ticked off. The crash album I found to be a bit more random. You are awarded a snapshot for crashing a rival racer at a specific location, and while you get a description, I found that pretty much all my snapshots came randomly as I raced normally, and whenever I tried to get a specific one done, it just wouldn’t happen. Perhaps that speaks to my skill level more than anything.
Now I am not hugely into racing games, but I quite like the racing in Burnout Revenge. You usually start already rolling at about 50 mph, and have to go from there, with the exception of the Crash events where you start from a standstill. Most events give you a boost bar that you can build by jumping, driving in the opposite lane, drifting, checking traffic (by which I mean that traffic going the same direction as you can be rear-ended to make them fly off and possibly set off a chain reaction without making you crash, unless it’s a bus or truck. Oncoming traffic will still crash you) and best of all; scoring takedowns on other racers. Your boost bar starts very short in events where you can do takedowns, and getting a takedown increases its length by up to four times. Crashing or getting taken down removes a chunk again.
The driving mechanics work well, the courses are large, colourful and quite distinct, with everything from mountain roads to city streets, with plenty of shortcuts marked by blue lights. The aim of each event is to get stars, because it is always stars. Everything that earns you boost also earns you score based on how well you did it, plus just doing a lengthy uninterrupted boost will also earn score. You can gain up to four stars as your final score, and if you also get a gold medal, it will be upgraded to five stars. Silver medal lets you keep your stars, while bronze takes one away, and below bronze you get nothing. What earns you medals varies from event to event.
The controls are simple enough. Right Trigger to accelerate, Left Trigger to brake (reverse when standing still) and Left Thumbstick to steer. While driving: A makes you boost, X lets you look behind you, Y changes between first and third person camera. When you crash: A activates Impact time (slows down time and lets you see traffic coming behind you), Left Thumbstick controls Aftertouch movement and B sets off the crashbreaker (in events where it is armed).
There is some rubber-banding in the game, but it is still possible to end up way behind or way ahead, though even when you’re way ahead a single crash can lose you enough time that the others end up right behind you, only it then tends to be curiously easy to catch up to them again. It is nice to see that your choice of car does matter though, yet the other racers always seem to have infinite boost, though they mostly tend to use theirs if you use yours, which can be used to your advantage.
It should also be noted that doing takedowns results in watching your victim crash in cinematic slow-motion while the AI takes over driving for a few moments to place you on what it considers the most likely position you’d be if you drove properly. This can be both an annoyance and a lifesaver, like if you’re just about to hit a wall, but you trigger a takedown and afterwards find yourself driving safely along the road again. And once you get the Crashbreaker unlocked for racing, you can even do explosive takedowns after you’re smashed. Be wary of using this as a tactic though, as it is possible to get totalled if you crash too much. And if someone takes you down, they are marked with red as a Revenge Rival, and taking them down earns you a bonus.
As for the events themselves, you have the Crash events I mentioned in the other article, where you get a car, and a task to wreak havoc at a junction. Your medal is based on how much damage you do, and the stars are based on how spectacular you make it.
The first driving event you’re introduced to is Traffic Attack, which features no other racers, but a whole load of traffic. You’re supposed to check as much traffic as possible to earn extensions on your time and the highest score possible. Managing to send cars flying into other cars can earn you skill shots (usually for same direction large vehicles) and trick shots (for opposite direction traffic) which significantly boost your score and time. Try to use boost strategically to line up the best shots.
Road Rage is an event where the aim is to score as many takedowns as possible. An endless succession of rivals are spawned (usually just 4 or 5 at a time), and you get time extensions every second or third takedown depending on the course. How many you need for each medal is listed at the beginning.
Burning Lap is a race only against time, earning you medals based on how fast you complete the course, and you are often locked into using a specific vehicle for it. Each rank also has a Preview Event that is pretty much the same, though it’s supposed to showcase a car much better than the ones your currently have.
Then we have the normal races, where it’s you and five rivals, and medals are based on getting third, second or first place. After Burning Lap it’s probably my least favourite event, though managing to make the others crash a lot can be fun. There are also Grand Prix events that are a series of races (usually four) where your overall score (you earn points per race) is the important thing, so one bad race doesn’t have to mean losing gold.
Eliminator events are almost like races, except there’s a timer always ticking down, and whenever it reaches zero, the racer in last place gets taken out. The aim is to be last racer driving, and so long as you manage to keep ahead of at least one other guy, you’ll be safe.
The vehicles are of course an important part of things. Criterion didn’t license any cars and instead came up with their own, which are probably all knockoffs of existing cars, but I’m not versed enough in that field to say for sure. My version says I can in total unlock 78 (though the image I found below says 79), of which I believe 58 are race cars and 20 are crash cars, and all have three stats: Crashbreaker, Weight and Boost Speed. Crashbreaker usually gets better on better cars, with only a few exceptions. Having a high Crashbreaker level helps improve score on Crash events because of the bigger bang. Weight is usually restriced to Super Light and Light for race cars (personally I prefer Light), while crash cars can go from Super Light to Super Heavy, but generally speaking you’ll want at least Medium weight for crash cars. Boost speed is what it says on the tin, and gradually goes up as you unlock better cars.
Rounding off this review I’d just like to mention that the soundtrack is large and varied, and on the whole I quite like it.
All in all, while not a perfect game, it is definitely a fun one. It’s not your typical racing game, though that’s the reason it appeals to me. There is a lot to do, and a lot to unlock, and some quite spectacular takedowns to pull off, usually by accident (like doing a jump and accidentally landing on a rival racer).
So in conclusion, if you like arcady racers, you’ll probably like this. Even if you don’t normally like racers, like me, you might still like it. It’s well put-together, stylised and pretty, got a good soundtrack and lots of crashing.