When Burnout Revenge was released last year, it's fair to admit that we were left a little disappointed. After the surprise of how much Burnout 3 had evolved from its predecessor, we were hoping Criterion would make the same kind of leap forward for the next version, yet unfortunately the game wasn't a huge upgrade. Despite this, the game was still a lot of fun and one of the best arcade racers around. Obviously, Criterion felt that they had a little more to add to Burnout Revenge which is where the Xbox 360 version comes in.
The main mode in Revenge is once again the World Tour mode. The Crash Nav has been removed and players are given a number of races to complete. There are races, previews and more in the single player mode. When a race is won the next race is unlocked, so it's a fairly linear experience. Aside from this the game also introduces the idea of a Revenge ranking. Players are ranked at the end of the race and start off with the rank of "harmless", and eventually move their way up as they perform more aggressive moves.
The major new addition to the game is the ability to check traffic. If small vehicle traffic is heading the same way as your vehicle, you can bump into it to try and take out an opponent. Traffic can be checked in both races and the crash modes and it works well, feeling especially gratifying the first time you crash a car into an opponent and take them down. A new traffic attack mode has been included to take advantage of this feature and the mode is really quite boring. The whole challenge is just to bump into as much traffic as possible which becomes extremely repetitive. Thankfully there aren't that many traffic attack challenges in the World Tour mode, so Criterion must have realised that the mode isn't that exciting.
The tracks in the game are a lot more detailed than previous tracks and are based around fictional cities. All of the tracks have multiple layers, and there are numerous shortcuts scattered around the levels. The tracks also seem like they are designed for battle this time around, plus there are many more stationary objects to be avoided through the races, such as pillars and large walls. Often these obstacles are more dangerous than your opponentâ€™s cars.
The crash mode has been reworked since it appeared in the last game. Burnout Revenge for the Xbox and PlayStation 2 had a golf system where you had to line up some some on-screen meters to gain speed. This time, you press A and your vehicle will go at full pace, which makes it much easier. There are no multipliers in the crash junctions either. There is a lot more strategy required because the crash environments have multiple levels now, so you have to decide which way will out take as many vehicles as possible. The Xbox 360 version also includes ten extra crash junctions that are all just as expansive as the other junctions.
The Xbox Live component of the game has also received a serious overhaul. Apparently most of the development during the game was focused on the online components and it really shows. For example the game now features a Live revenge feature. At the beginning of each race in online play the game will show the online leader and your objective is to take them out (oh yeah, and win the race). If you take these opponents down then they become your revenge rivals and the game will remember them as a revenge rival every time you log on. A lot of the achievements are reserved for online battles as well so to get all 1000 achievement points out of the game you will need to work hard offline and online.
The main menu in Burnout Revenge doesn't have a quick race option. If you want to play single player then you need to go in through the World Tour mode and select a race, which is a little confusing. We were hoping that Criterion would add this option into the Xbox 360 version but unfortunately if you want to race in a specific location with a specific mode just for fun then you'll need to move in between the excessive menus. We don't actually see a valid reason for this option to be omitted, especially considering it is standard fare in racing games these days.
One of the things that we've been calling for to be included in Burnout is the ability to save replays. Apparently Criterion were listening, as you can now save thirty second clips. It's a little disappointing that you can only save thirty second clips, but it's definitely better than nothing. Immediately when a race is over the game takes you to the replay and you can select which portion of the event you save. It's also possible to upload these clips to Xbox Live and download other clips. In fact, one of the achievements is actually having one of your clips being in the top twenty downloads.
Gameplay wise the game is still a lot of fun. The game is a little easier to complete because the traffic checking means that only half of the vehicles are an obstacle. Sometimes it's also not possible to tell quick enough if the vehicle is a large vehicle, so you may think that you're checking a vehicle and you will actually be crashing into one. The Xbox 360 version also includes longer loading, so it takes about twenty seconds for a race to load, which isn't too bad. The crash races load instantly though which is extremely handy because you'll be replaying the crash modes quite a few times.
Graphically the game isn't a huge upgrade from the Xbox version. But since the game looked so amazing on the Xbox, it still looks great here. There is a little more detail in the game and the vehicles definitely look a lot more damaged at the end of a race - just don't expect a huge upgrade. Unless of course you get things running in HD, when things look a whole lot better. As much as we hate to admit it, the EA Games Trax in this game are actually reasonably good. Criterion have also included the Burnout 2 theme music and that plays on the main menu, a great little homage to the past.
The world tour mode only lasts about ten hours. If you want to improve your ranking then you can unlock some Xbox 360 achievements in the process. The real appeal of the game after the World Tour mode is with the multiplayer. The Xbox Live features are very compelling and if you enjoy multiplayer gaming then this is the best version of Burnout to be playing on Live.
Burnout Revenge isn't a huge upgrade from the versions that were released six months ago but the game definitely feels a lot more polished. The crash junctions are a lot more fun now because there is no fiddling around at the beginning and there are extra junctions. The graphics look good but the Xbox Live achievements are the primary reason to purchase this game. It's a lot of fun being able to save your own replays and upload them online and creating online rivals is extremely addictive. We had expected that the game would be a basic port, but it really does feel like this is the ultimate version of Burnout.