Burnout Revenge is simply one of the most exciting and fun racing games ever made.
After years trying to innovate Criterion finally came up with a new solid racing series. Not only that, but the company managed to create some of the most remarkable games in the genre for the past few years. Burnout 3: Takedown is remembered for being the game that had a perfect balance between both old and new features. After that game came out it was hard to imagine a better one. If you thought that you were probably right, Revenge is not better than its prequel, but fortunately it manages to add so many variations to the basic formula making all the other previous iterations archaic.
Before moving on to the more technical description there is mainly one defining change in Burnout Revenge, the ability to slam into traffic. This is called traffic checking and it allows you to crash small and medium sized vehicles only. What’s most interesting about this new approach is that once you hit a car it immediately becomes a weapon, so you can tactically use it to slam it into other cars to earn more points or even to take down your opponents. This new addition is amazing as the crashed cars become obstacles that your opponents need to avoid to survive. At the same time, and while you’re racing you need to pay attention to the traffic as you can’t crash certain vehicles like trucks, this adds even more complexity to the formula and sometimes split second decision making is required. Furthermore, a new event that takes advantage of this new ability was included, which basically lets you “attack” the traffic, for each car you crash you get more money.
Additionally, track design was completely changed as each course has many shortcuts and alternatives paths you can strategically take. Many of these alternate routes have ramps that you can use to perform vertical takedowns, which require you to literally land on an opponent. Performing one of these is one of the most satisfying moments of the game. Also, to fill your boost meter you’ll need to do one of four things, check traffic, drive on the opposite lane, drift, or use ramps. The physics do look a little weird even for a ridiculous arcade game like this one, but you’ll eventually get used to it.
Burnout Revenge includes an incredibly long single-player world tour mode. This mode includes 11 ranks and each one has many events for you to complete. Your main objective in each one is to obtain a gold medal along with 5 stars. As you get more stars you’ll slowly advance getting a better rank that’ll include more events. Usually, unlocking these involves driving in the most reckless and aggressive ways hitting other cars, drifting, taking down opponents and so on. Getting the precious stars can be quite difficult though. If you get an awesome rating (4 stars) you´ll also need a gold medal to get the final star obtaining a perfect rank instead. Additionally, if you get a bronze medal a star is subtracted from your final score.
Each rank has several sections. Each section is represented through a different location, which has a complete list of races. Even though this may sound pretty linear it’s really not, as sometimes you unlock races from previous ranks allowing you to go back to get a new car. Fortunately, there’s an incredible variety of cars. These are rated according to their top speed, weight and crashbreaker force. Basically, each type of car can be used for a certain type of race so eventually you’ll probably drive most of them at least once. There are also some interesting cars to unlock like one that promotes Black or others that belong to different brands like Logitech, Etnies or even Criterion itself. For those who have a save of Madden 06 or Burnout 3 you can unlock a secret car right off the bat.
The world tour includes 169 different events and the game offers a complete variety of races. The most basic type of race requires you to finish first. In traffic attack you have to check traffic to extend the amount of time given. In eliminator you’ll need to avoid being in last place until you are the winner. During a burning lap you’ll have to reach the finish line before the time runs out. Road rage puts an infinite number of opponents and you need to make crash as many as you can to extend the time given. In some events once you crash you can use the crashbreaker ability, this allows you to tap the R2 button making it explode and causing even more damage. Most of the opponents tend to be quite fast and their quick reactions keep the game balanced.
Another important part of the game is crash mode. Here you’re put in a place filled with cars and you need to figure out a way to cause the most damage. Usually, it all comes down to the place where you crash, and probably the best way to do it is by blocking the two lanes to cause more damage. Once you crash, there are many meters that indicate your progress and multipliers. Some of these levels can be the most difficult in the game and completing them can be quite hard. The AI of the game is quite challenging. Most of the time you’ll have few opponents around you, and this keeps races interesting. Some veterans of the series may consider this a very easy game, but taking into account that to unlock most of the secret cars you need to get gold medals on every event, there aren’t many reasons to complain.
The multiplayer lets you compete against your friends on split-screen. If you want to play Burnout properly this probably isn’t the best way to do it. Also, music is disabled when you are playing on split-screen so the game isn’t that fun and engaging.
Graphically, the game looks simply amazing. The combination of a shaky camera, the consistent frames per second and the great flashy effects really stand out. For some people, driving at 200 miles per hour can be quite disorienting, but the feeling of immersion the game has is unique. The environments are impressive, but at the same time you won’t be looking at their details very often. Apart from that the car models are really good and full of details, even when they are not licensed or modeled after real cars. The different collisions look terrific as you can see the cars explode in very dramatic ways and in slow motion.
Sound is a very important part of any racing game and Burnout is no exception. Probably the best way to play this game is by using a surround system, but even with the regular speakers from the TV the game sounds very good. You can hear everything around you, not only the racing cars but the traffic and objects you hit. The sound that stands out the most must be the nitrous boost. The soundtrack features songs from several artists like Yellowcard, Bloc Party, The Outline, The All-American Rejects, OK Go and many more. While many people may dislike the soundtrack, it can be very good especially if you like pop-punk. It’s not very varied or anything but if you’re a fan of the genres you’ll have a great time listening to it.
A few years have passed since Burnout Revenge came out and many sequels changed the series forever (mainly Paradise and especially Hot Pursuit), but I can’t avoid reviewing this game as it represents a surprising turning point for the racing game genre. Maybe it wasn’t the technical marvel everyone was expecting at the time but nobody can deny that Revenge was one of the most exciting and fun racing games ever made.