XBOX 360 REVIEW: BURNOUT REVENGE

After playing this series for the last four years, I have yet to experience "burn out". In fact, I can't seem to get enough. by Vaughn Smith

April 6, 2006 - Should you or shouldn't you? If you own an Xbox 360 and have already purchased Burnout Revenge for the Xbox or PS2, you'll understand why that sentence exists. Let me answer it for you: you should. Unlike other EA releases for the Xbox 360 that were, at best, very similar and at worst, completely stripped down, Burnout Revenge is the poster child for "quality portsmanship". Criterion really had the best of both worlds. It had released the current gen version of Burnout Revenge in September to rave reviews and there was simply no rush to get the X360 version out the door for the November launch. With months to enhance the games online play, boost the polygon count of the vehicle models and remove the completely unnecessary "swing meter" start mechanic in Crash mode, Burnout Revenge is one sweet piece of software and a definite must for anyone who enjoys wicked arcade racing and owns an X360.

Almost everything StewXX wrote in his review of Burnout Revenge back in September still holds true for this latest incarnation of the series, so you should consider that required reading. I can tell you that as a game reviewer, you can always tell the really "good to the core" games because you go back to them hours, days, weeks...even months after you've written your review. Burnout Revenge is such a beast. In between bouts of Blazing Angels, Black, Fight Night Round 3, Rumble Roses XX and Kingdom Hearts 2 (not to mention a slew of other projects), I found myself "taking a break from work" and relaxing with Burnout Revenge.

Jumping into the World Tour mode is where you'll find BR's single player challenge. It's a long and winding road and you'll have to compete in many different races to unlock everything there is to see and do. During World Tour, you'll compete in a multitude of different races such as Road Rage, Traffic Attack (smash into as much traffic as possible within the time limit), Crash, Burning Lap, Elimination etc. If you've played a Burnout game previously you'll likely know what to expect from the different challenges. Crash mode has been integrated into the World Tour mode in Revenge and it functions differently than what we experienced in Takedown and Revenge on the Xbox and PS2. Players weren't crazy about having to aim for the various multipliers in Takedown's Crash scenarios and they've been primarily left on the cutting room floor. As mentioned at the outset of this review, Criterion also decided to remove the "swing meter" style starting boost mechanic found in Crash mode on the current gen consoles. Since players would restart over and over until they achieved the perfect boost, Criterion yanked it and gave everyone the boost right from the start.

What you may not be prepared for is the lack of difficulty that permeates most of the game. I was hoping that the lowered difficulty level I experienced back in September on the Xbox was going to be increased for the Xbox 360, but that's not the case. I burned through most of the earlier to medium events the first time without even trying hard. True, I have played the game before and so I have an advantage, but I had the same results when I played the game the first time. One of the reasons Burnout Revenge is easier overall is due to the "checking" mechanic which allows you to smash into vehicles going in your direction and send them flying into opponents without causing you to crash. Without the fear of losing precious time, you can throw caution to the wind. As well, traffic in the oncoming lanes has been decreased significantly from previous games allowing you to spend a great deal of time increasing your burnout meter without fear of enduring too many time-sucking car crashes. While all of these changes contribute to the ease of difficulty, they have made Burnout Revenge a faster, more exciting game with less "down time". Think of it like playing NHL 06 with the penalties and line changes turned off. It's pure action.

The level design in Burnout Revenge also reflects the movement towards a faster gameplay experience, as tracks are generally roomier, allowing the player more maneuvering space to set up takedowns, shunts and other offensive plays. Shortcuts can also be exploited to shave down on travel time. The track design is one of the stars of the show in Revenge. You'll never feel cramped or unfairly challenged by the layout. If you smash into a wall or other obstacle it's usually because you were being cocky and racing too fast without paying attention

Eye candy aficionado's will appreciate the TLC Criterion injected into the X360 version. The car models, which harken back to Burnout 2's roster, look fantastic. More polygons, more reflective sheen, more realtime damage....everything about the vehicles is just smashingly good. Playing the game in high res is the only way to go, as those playing on a regular TV will only notice a slight upgrade in visuals (graphics, framerate and resolution) from the Xbox version. The carnage in BR is something to behold, especially when you can see every graphic effect Criterion slaved over to make the accidents look the way they do. The blurring effects and the sense of blistering speed are, as yet unparalleled.

Racing down the highway at 250 mph doesn't mean much if you can't control your vehicle properly. Burnout Revenge won't fight you. The game is pure arcade handling with an emphasis on speed and drifting. If you have to use your brakes in Burnout Revenge, you aren't playing correctly. As usual, I was disheartened - once again - to discover that Criterion forces the player to use the RT for acceleration instead of allowing a configuration change to a face button, like they allow on the PS2. Because I've been favoring the Burnout series on the Xbox for the last couple of years due to XBL and the visual upgrades, I've learned to cope. Still, I just don't understand why they continue to leave this option out on the Xbox/X360 versions of the game.

The online game has been further enhanced, although some would argue that it was great to begin with. No argument there. The new changes involve a revenge system which keeps track of a particular opponent who's caused you the most humiliation while racing, in effect making you online enemies. The only way to end his or her reign of terror is to take em' down yourself. Unfortunately, this area is a little off balance and not quite as cool as it could be, as you will only need one take down to settle the score. Had it been set up to work like points, where you would have had to exceed the number of hits against you, I think that would have created more deep-seated rivalries. Players are also able to share 30 second clips online and XBL will track which vids have been viewed the most and Gamerpoint challenges have also been included. I'm not particularly fond of trying to accumulate gamer points. Seems like useless busy work to me. A big blessing of the online mode is that you will be racing against much harder opponents. Those looking for a real challenge will find it here. Quite honestly, World Tour won't even prepare you for what is waiting for you online, so be prepared to suck it up and lose; a lot.

With such attention to detail, Burnout Revenge succeeds where more than a few EA ports to the X360 have failed. Even if you believe you've seen everything Revenge had to offer on the current gen consoles, this sleek revamped racing hottie will show you a few new tricks. If you haven't played it already, then really, what are you waiting for? Arcade-style racing doesn't get any more exciting than this.

By Vaughn Smith
CCC Site Director

Rating out of 5
Burnout Revenge (X360)
4.7
Graphics
Smoking hot in every department. Incredible presentation permeates every aspect of the game, from menus to modes.
4.5
Control
Like buttah...I still wish for a face button gas pedal, but I'm used to the config now.
4.3
Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
Decent tunes and pulse-pounding crashes. What more could you ask for?
4.8
Online
Online has been revamped for racing love. You'll also get the most challenge from playing online.
4.8
Play Value
World Tour is never ending. Lots of cars, locales and events to unlock. If you love Burnout, you could probably play this game for months both offline and online without getting bored.
4.6
Overall Rating - Must Buy
Not an average. See Rating legend above for a final score breakdown.
Preview by Vaughn

The Burnout series exploded onto the current gen systems a couple of years back and in classic simile style crashed head on into the competition rendering most of them DOA on store shelves.

Burnout Revenge is the fourth installment of the series and it's certainly not a surprise that anyone who has played any of the previous games are excited to get their hands on Revenge. We're even more pumped about playing it on the Xbox 360 as the visuals will no doubt be mindblowing.

Revenge is the name of the game this time out and Criterion has upped the ante in terms of what tactics will be surefire winners and came to the conclusion that in Burnout, coming in first doesn't necessarily mean all that much. It's not coming in first place that counts, but how you get there. Almighty vengeance will be tracked with the Revenge Meter which will keep a running tally as to just how much of a badass you really are. Road rage is the name of the game - as long as you keep your bad attitude and evil driving skills confined to the gameworld.

Criterion has always made an attempt to evolve the series with each subsequent release and Revenge is no different. As mentioned, if you want to win, you'll have to alter your tactics. While taking down opponents in Burnout 3: Takedown was necessary, Revenge forces you to play really dirty. You'll need to slam, bam and ram your opponents with everything you've got, and that now includes using traffic as a pawn in your deadly game. Think of checking your opponents in a game of hockey and you'll have a closer understanding to the techniques required of you in Revenge.

Speaking of Revenge, here's how it works. When you start a race all of your opponents will have blue markers over them. This signifies that they are neutral. If you continue to target a particular opponent during a race they will become increasingly more aggressive towards, ultimately turning that blue marker into red, which means they're completely gunning for you. If you manage to take down any of the competition that is red marked for Revenge, you'll earn a Revenge Takedown which will crank up the points in your Revenge Meter and put you that much closer to taking the big prize.

As you can imagine, the level design needed some restructuring to allow for this level of violence on the tracks. Gamers can expect to see massive jumps, multiple paths, and nasty choke points which will breed contempt and allow you to reign hell on your opponents from behind, below, above and all sides.

We can't wait and if Criterion and EA has their way, we'll all be getting our Revenge in just over a month from now.

Features:

  • Revenge is Sweet – It's not about winning, it's about vengeance. An all-new revenge meter tracks underhanded tactics and leads gamers down the path to the ultimate payback. Fight dirty and be rewarded ....
  • Check Traffic – Think hockey on the highway. Now every vehicle on the road is in play and a potential target – or weapon. Ram traffic into your rivals, slam cars into vicious combo-based pile-ups and lay waste to everything in sight. Don't fear traffic – fight it
  • Traffic Attack – An all-new traffic attack mode pits gamers against the clock in a mad dash for destruction. It's not about dodging traffic, it's about leveling it by any means necessary
  • Crash Redefined – Show Hollywood how it's done with all-new open-ended crash junctions. With multiple start points, complex, vertically-oriented tracks and hundreds of cars begging to be decimated, Burnout Revenge is the king of crash
  • Grudge Match – Punish a rival enough and they'll develop a grudge – and then you'll need to take care of them personally in an all-new grudge match
  • Built to Battle – Designed for maximum carnage, Burnout Revenge's tracks are loaded with massive jumps, multiple paths and nasty chokepoints to deliver the ultimate brutal car combat.
  • Vertical takedowns and in-race crashbreakers open up new avenues for destruction
  • Car Deformation – with more than 3 times the car deformation in Burnout 3: Takedown, Burnout Revenge lets gamers literally rip cars to shreds
  • Car Classes – All-new cars in three classes (race, muscle and crash) accentuate different play styles and power up, physically transforming as they become more powerful
  • Untouchable Speed – Burnout Revenge delivers unrivaled, retina-searing speed that can only possibly be topped by the real thing
  • Real World Locations – Burnout Revenge features tracks spanning three continents and inspired by real-world cities - from Detroit to Rome to Tokyo.
  • Online Play* – Take Burnout Revenge online for 6 player online action on the PlayStation2 computer entertainment system and Xbox Live.

 

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System: X360, X, PS2
Dev: Criterion
Pub: EA
Release: Mar 2006
Players: 1 - 6
Review by Vaughn

Review Rating Legend
1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid
2.0 - 2.4 = Poor
2.5 - 2.9 = Average
3.0 - 3.4 = Fair
3.5 - 3.9 = Good
4.0 - 4.4 = Great
4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy
5.0 = The Best