Burnout 2 was an incredible game, so when EA published Burnout 3 last year and it was actually better than it's predecessor, people started taking note of the franchise. The game was critically acclaimed (can anyone pick the pun there?) by the gaming press and general public, for its incredible races and fast gameplay, and with everything that was happening, the game never skipped a beat, keeping a constant 60FPS the whole way through. Now we've been treated to Burnout Revenge and not content on just delivering more of the same, Criterion have changed the formula a little, but is it for better or worse?
The major addition to the game is the ability to check traffic. Traffic that is going the same way as your car is no longer an obstacle, but a destruction partner. Cars can be shunted to take out other vehicles or take out your enemies mid race. We will admit that when you take an enemy out mid race with traffic you have shunted it looks incredibly good, but it does make the game a lot easier to play. Not only can traffic be checked in races but also in road rage and crash modes.
Criterion have added one extra mode to the proceedings to incorporate this new feature, and that is the traffic attack mode. The traffic attack mode sounds a lot better than it actually is, the objective is just to force your way through traffic and cause destruction and damage. The total amount of damage you are creating is calculated through the race in real time, this mode is fairly weak and pales in comparison to road rage for excitement. Thankfully the traffic attack races aren't to prevalent through the single player campaign.
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.
The track design is actually one of the highlights of the game and is one of the things improved upon from Burnout 3. The tracks seem designed for battle this time around, and now contain shortcuts and jumps. There are many more stationary objects to be avoided through the races, such as pillars and large walls, and these obstacles end up being more dangerous than your opponent's cars.
Crash mode has actually been reworked this time as well, and it is definitely a better experience than the game's predecessor. All the multipliers have been removed, as well as the instant crash breakers. Launching your car into a massive intersection brimming with valuable crash dollar cars is a little different this time around, and is very similar to a golf game. There is a meter in the left hand side of the screen and getting the meter on the mark will launch the car with perfect accuracy and the right boost level. If you don't get the meter on the mark then the car won't go where you want it go, although this isn't the end of the world and just requires a quick adjustment. By removing the multipliers Criterion has made the crash mode much less linear and thus a lot more fun.
Burnout Revenge once again features Xbox Live support and it is definitely better than its predecessor in this regard. The online features of Burnout 3 were fairly poor, and finding someone to play against was sometimes a challenge in itself. Two new modes have been added to multiplayer traffic attack and crash tour. All the previous multiplayer events have also made the cut, so the multiplayer is actually more fun this time around; as is the online play. The greatest improvement to the Xbox Live service is the way races are ranked. No longer are they based on total number of wins or greatest crash dollars, but your score will increase the faster you beat players or decrease depending on how far behind your opponant's are. This is a much better way of ranking players and bases the rankings more on skill rather than playtime.
One thing we thought was important to point out was the lack of a clear single player option. From the main menu players are given four options and they are World Tour, Mutliplayer, Xbox Live and Driver Details. So basically, if you're after a quick race then you have no option but to go into the World Tour mode and then select a race mode that looks like what you'd want to race in. This is a really bizarre development decision, and we cannot see why a single race option is not present. This could probably be fixed with a simple Xbox download, but we doubt it's going to happen - nonetheless we hope Criterion take note for the Xbox 360 version.
Gameplay wise the game still runs at the blisteringly fast frame-rate of its predecessor, except the game feels a little easier because it is more difficult to crash. Due to the traffic attack option, the game itself is a little easy, and Criterion have to be careful they don't take the emphasis off crashing all together.
Graphically, Burnout: Revenge is one of the best looking games available on any console. The tracks have a high level of detail and the cars themselves look brilliant. The game is at its best when the action slows down and you can see every little spec of the car disintegrating. There is literally so much happening on screen at once that no two races are ever the same.
Xbox owners have an advantage over the Playstation 2 version as the Xbox version supports custom soundtracks. The soundtrack itself is fairly reliable though, so you won't be forced to rip to the hard-drive immediately upon booting the game up. The annoying DJ from the previous game has been removed, and a female has replaced him, but she only appears in short bursts as to avoid annoyance.
The game itself should last a fairly long time, the world tour mode has a lot of challenges, and it takes a while to upgrade your rank, so there is plenty of content in the game. Those who consider themselves Burnout veterans will probably find the game a little easy, considering the ability to attack traffic on your own side makes the game a little less challenging. Those who were a little disappointed by the multiplayer the last time around will prefer this title, as it is much better online than its predecessor. Those of you without Xbox Live will also find enough modes in offline multiplayer to keep entertained.
Burnout Revenge makes sure that the franchise is looked at as the number one arcade racing series of all time. Criterion have tried too add a few new elements to Revenge and for the first time in a long time they have failed. The traffic attack mode is fairly bland and the game doesn't really differ that much from its budget priced predecessor. However, those who were fans of the previous game are treated to new vehicles, (anyone with a Burnout 3: Takedown save on their Xbox automatically recieves a bonus car) new tracks and a whole new single player mode, which is just what we would expect from the sequel, Revenge is still a brilliant game that should please everyone.