Burnout Revenge Review

David Creech

Burnout Revenge is the fourth installment of the ever popular Burnout series from Criterion Games, and the second published by EA. It is clearly heavily influenced by the success of Burnout 3: Takedown, where many online races degenerated into huge crash fests. Burnout Revenge is not about driving Ferraris through the pristine European countryside – instead, it is all about smashing your way through heavy traffic, destroying your rivals as often as possible, and squeaking across the finish line in a smoking wreck with your door hanging on by one hinge.

Takin' out the twins...Two vans for the price of one!

The basic story is this: There is no story! The game is all about racing, making the biggest, baddest explosions you can, and racking up takedown after takedown. The career mode provides groups of races somewhat differentiated by difficulty. The only group available when you start your career is “Harmless”, and as you finish races you earn points that rank you up and unlock other groups of events. There are 10 groups, ranging from Harmless and Unsafe at one end to Assassin and Dominator at the other. Each group has a variety of events to offer from the seven types of races available.

The available event types are Race, Crash Intersection, Traffic Attack, Eliminator, Road Rage, Burning Lap, and Preview. Burning Lap and Preview are similar game types in which you have to complete one lap within a set time. The Preview events are different only in that the car you use is chosen by the game. Race events are your basic place-first-to-get-gold multi-lap races, while Eliminator is the same concept but the last place racer each lap gets knocked off. Traffic Attack is a new mode that places you in traffic and lets you extend the clock by causing damage to vehicles. The goal is to cause a certain dollar amount in damage before the clock runs out. This is made somewhat harder by the inclusion of big rigs that cause you to crash if you hit them, on-coming traffic you can’t touch, and in the harder races, less and less traffic to attack. The official website describes it best: “Think hockey on the highway. Don’t fear traffic – fight it!”

So much debris, so little time.

Crash Intersections are not new, but they have been improved from previous versions of Burnout by adding wind effects and accounting for the weight of your vehicle in the physics package. This can make for interesting events where you have to select a car light enough to jump a large gap (say, a canyon) but heavy enough that the 85 mph crosswind doesn’t blow you completely off the map. An added bonus is that the crashbreaker mode (exploding your car after a crash) is also available in some race events, letting you get some sneaky revenge on the bastard that took you down. In fact, there is even an achievement tied to doing this extremely well (Stack the Pack – Use your Crashbreaker to blow up 5 rivals at once and get Total Payback – 15 GS).

Road Rage is purely focused on taking down your opponents. The goal is to drive through traffic and find your fellow racers (easily identifiable by the visual labels above their cars) and cause them to crash. Slam them into walls, oncoming traffic, big rigs, etc. There are two pretty cool ways that are not as obvious to take down opponents as well; one is the traffic check, where you slam some poor slob driving his commuter car to work into an opponent hard enough to wreck both cars, but the best one is the Psych Out Takedown, where you and an opponent are driving together through traffic and you force them to swerve into a wall without actually touching them. This can be very satisfying, especially on-line.

The crash details are spectacular!

Rank points are earned by finishing each event. As you race through the event your performance is rated by the amount of mayhem you cause, and this is the primary emphasis on rank points. The best destruction score is “Awesome” which earns you four stars toward your rank. The better you place in a race, or the more damage you do in a crash event, etc., the better medal you get. The medals modify the number of rank stars up or down: Bronze lowers your rank stars by one, Silver is no change, and Gold increases your rank stars by one. This means the best possible score is earned by getting a gold medal with an Awesome rating, which is then modified into a five star “Perfect”, the ultimate goal for every event. Note that this means you can place first in a race, but if you dodged traffic and drove on the right side of the street the whole way, you might still only get one or two stars rather than the five for truly exemplifying the spirit of Burnout Revenge.

Online there is a lot to do, and even almost two years after release there is still a strong online community. There is a new feature that permits you to capture 30 seconds of video from a single player game and upload it to the EA servers and share with your friends what an incredible driver you are, how you can thread an exploding car between two buses to takedown a gas-tanker semi and then explode the lot for $10 million in damage, etc. There are a few achievements tied to this feature as well (Your Opinion Counts! – 10 GS, Check It Out! – 10 GS, and Celebrity Status! – 65 GS). There are some unique race types that are not available in the off-line mode, as well. One is the Crash Tour, where you go through a series of crash intersections, and the total damage across all intersections determines the winner. However, arguably the most popular online race is the online Road Rage where two teams compete. The Blue Team tries to get to the finish line without being taken down, while the Red Team – often with unlimited boost – has the sole mission of hunting down the Blue Team members before they cross the finish line.

Traffic Takedown FTW!

Burnout Revenge seems to have won almost every award there is available, including Best Driving Game two years in a row, Editors Choice Award for 2005, Best Game to Burn Rubber with, and Best Use of Sound 2005, just to name a few.

Sounds like a perfect game... but sadly, it is not. The game does suffer from very slow load times and like many of EA’s online ventures, there can be noticeable lag when playing with friends. Split screen is a blast, but having your rival warp 300 feet ahead right before you send him into an on-coming city bus gets annoying. In addition, there are only eight tracks to race on, so it can seem like you are doing the same races over and over again. To combat this, Criterion have variations on each track, such as long and short versions, and varying the direction and starting points. However, it does remain a negative compared to some of the competition.

Achievements for Burnout Revenge are reasonably well done. Some are just for progressing through the game and earning perfects on all the races at each rank or each type of race… however, that is harder than it sounds! Some of the later races are truly challenging and you EARN those achievements. There are 285 GS set aside for the online community, some of which are simple (Server Surfer! - Get stuck in! Awarded for competing in a Burnout Revenge event online! – 5 GS) while some are truly challenging to earn without boosting (Most Wanted! – King of the Road! Awarded for getting ahead of all 5 rivals in an online lobby! – 55 GS, Grudge O’War – Grabbed for settling the Score over 100 times with the same rival! Why stop now? – 40 GS). Overall, whilst more imagination could have been shown, there are some strokes of genius in the achievements and it is a solid performance.

Overall, if you don’t own this game, you really should go out and buy a copy. Even if you are horrible at racing you can still have a blast with this game and earn quite a few of the achievements along the way. Burnout Revenge is great for getting out aggression at roommates, bosses, and ESPECIALLY if you have to sit in horrible traffic five days a week. It makes a great drinking game, it is good for young and old alike, and clearly has lasting appeal to entertain people for years.

Burnout Revenge has a small – therefore repetitive – sound track of some quality recordings, but the racing sounds are phenomenal and far outweigh the sound track. This game is all about smashing into cars and causing wrecks, and they completely nailed the sounds. Frankly, the only negative is the small sound track and if that bothers you, plug in your iPod, use the dashboard to change the music, and GET OVER IT!

Visually, the game is quite decent. Crashes are very well done, lots of damage to cars, good explosion visuals (especially in the crashbreaker events), and the car deformation is certainly noticeable. If you slam into a car, expect to see the underlying fiberglass of your car body showing as you cross the finish line. It is not unusual to be a bit unsure what color your car was painted by the time you cross the finish line because so much of the paint has come off. The tracks are well designed from a race perspective, with plenty of shortcuts, jumps (gotta love getting a vertical takedown by landing on top of a smarmy rival), and detailed scenery. While there are LOTS of destructible items to hit, and the graphics are clearly better than the same game on the original Xbox or PS2, it is still not as crisp as some of the other racing games out there such as PGR3. However, that appears to have been done at least somewhat on purpose as the game lends itself to blurred vision when you kick in the boost and some parts are incredibly detailed.

Very playable, extremely easy out of the box without cracking the manual, but the events are challenging enough that it will keep you entertained for quite a while. The controls are easy for new console players and offer enough subtlety for advanced drivers to burn some serious rubber.

The loading times get very old after a while, both online and offline. Other than that, the delivery is smooth and clearly shows Criterion’s dedication to their Burnout franchise.

A solid variety of quick achievements mixed in with some very time consuming ones. The split of offline (715 GS) to online (285 GS) achievements is well done, and the overall reflection of the achievements is definitely designed to demonstrate your skill in the game. Perhaps too much emphasis on completing each stage of the offline World Tour, but a few gems (Should Be Autographs! – Master the art of the Takedown by completing all 24 Signature Takedowns! – 35 GS, Stack the Pack!, and The Crushinator - Look Out Below! Awarded for getting 2 Vertical Takedowns in a race! – 15 GS) help improve the overall effectiveness of the achievements.

Burnout Revenge was the last of the Burnout series to focus on crashing, with Burnout Paradise much more a strictly racing game. Buy the game. If you own it, go play it again. Seriously.

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