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Burnout: Revenge Review

Burnout: Revenge Box art
Developer:Electronic Arts
Publisher:Electronic Arts
Platform:Xbox 360
Official Site:http://www.burnoutrevenge.ea.com/
Release Date:March 17th (UK)
Reviewer:Paul Lowton (KendoMonkey)
Buy now at Amazon.co.uk

My first encounter with the Burnout series was on a friend's Xbox about 12 months ago, the game was Burnout 3: Takedown. I absolutely fell in love with it and the concept of "crashing for points" immediately, and although my practice time on it was very limited, I'd had so much fun in those few hours that I considered buying an Xbox, knowing that the 360 would soon be with us. I didn't though, and you can imagine that my patience turned to rabid fever once I did get my 360 and had to put up with Project Gotham Racing 3 and its "our cars don't crash" mentality. However, EA and Criterion finally came through and published Burnout Revenge for the Xbox 360. My precious.

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For those who don't know, the Burnout series is a car racing game where aggressive (and sometimes bad) driving is pretty much the aim of the game - not in a crazy bloodied way like Carmageddon, but in a way that sees your car smashed and scratched to hell as you stumble across the finish line. Races start by scanning the field, looking for your first target "takedown" - the enemy car you're hoping to push off the track into a wall, land on top of from a jump...or the one you need to take revenge on for doing the same to you in the last round! Believe me, there's a knack to all this, it isn't as random or hectic as it sounds, although it is very, very fast.

Burnout Revenge, as the name suggests, differs from others in the series by marking and tracking enemies, online or offline, that have committed a "takedown" against yourself, hence the "Revenge" in the title. Personally I think this is a pretty vacuous addition but hey - it doesn't hurt I suppose. Personally it doesn't really do much for me, but there you go. There are two main "game modes" in Burnout Revenge: racing and crashing.

The racing modes are pretty much as you'd expect - fast paced, adrenaline fuelled races around the track, attempting to stay on the road whilst making sure your opponents are piling themselves into walls as often as possible. There are a few different types of race mode: Standard race, Road Rage (which is "how many times can you wipe out other people on the road before your time runs out"), Eliminator (a twist on the old "last place driver per lap gets blown-up") and Traffic Attack (time-limited race, boosted by crashing into people). Racing in Burnout Revenge is genuinely exciting and if you're blessed to have a wireless controller you might find yourself jumping and flinging yourself and your controller all sorts of ways as you slam into people and off the track. It's incredibly fast paced (although beginners might find that crashing into walls and having slo-mo replays takes the speed out of the game at first) and whipping in front of an oncoming bus when boosting just to dodge out of the way and shave the paintwork is an awesome experience.

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The crash gaming modes are great fun, placing you in traffic "situations", usually around a junction. All the traffic is paused, waiting for you to begin your advance...your car is placed just outside the junction and you have just the time the clock takes to countdown before the situation is un-paused before finding yourself hurtling towards the traffic. The aim? Cause as much damage as possible! It's hard to explain how satisfying this mode is as you hurtle into the first few cars on your way ... game play flips into slo-mo and you see the full effects of that crash, you're no longer in control, your car is wasted. However, the rest of the traffic keeps moving, carrying on their normal routes, slamming their brakes on, sliding sideways into more traffic, slamming into the already crashed cars and debris that you've just created. Sooner or later (if you've done it right!) the pile-up consists of buses, lorries, vans and cars and everything is either smoking or blowing up. Ahhhh.

Anyway, your performance in any of the modes contribute to your "rank" - a personal achievement status that defines how many locations, tracks, cars and other bonuses are opened up to you. Ranks are awarded for when you achieve certain levels of points and you receive these as a score at the end of a round, ranking your efforts as "Good, Great, Awesome" and so on and then applying point based on that. The actual scores are based on your result during the race/event as well as things likes boosting, crashes and takedowns that you achieve.

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Graphically Burnout Revenge is exactly what you'd want - not too fussy or prim, plenty of blur and sunshine streaming across the skies...and lots of cars to bash and crash at will. Since you'll be driving at a fair lick the graphics don't really need to be particularly beautiful BUT...they are! Admittedly, I wouldn't say that they graphics are a massive leap from the original Xbox version of the game but there are other things like, for example, the crash damage and debris, that are so well done that it's well worth the upgrade.

But it's not all sunshine and lollipops - Burnout Revenge is quite a limited game in a number of respects. I mean, it's a hell of a lot of fun, don't get me wrong, but the actual scope of the game is much narrower than I had expected. The tracks are repeated quite a lot (although there are lots of shortcuts, more on this presently), the rank system is a nice idea in terms of unlocking events and locations, but too easy to climb - beginners can become experts simply by putting time in and not necessarily excelling. The game's rubber-band racing system is also...well, it's understandable that it's there but it makes it too easy to play badly yet still get a medal position. I know that other reviewers have mentioned the odd frame-rate issues and some clipping problems but I have to admit that I haven't noticed these yet. Well, I might have seen the odd clipping problem but at the travelling speeds we're talking about here it's neither here nor there.

Online the game is at least as much fun, if not more, than the single player. Generally the feedback from players is light-hearted and genuine and luckily the "revenge" element hasn't appeared to have caused too much aggravation. Your rank can really make the difference online if you let the system match you up to players of equal standing and it makes for a much more enjoyable and friendly experience, rather than the depressingly random nature of other games which throw you in with those who dedicate a fixed 10 hours per day playing a game. But anyway, I'm not bitter because Burnout Revenge has been my best experience online with Xbox Live so far.

The sounds in the game are crisp and solid and although I can't personally stand the soundtrack I appreciate that it's another good EA line-up that young uns around the country will presumably love. As an experiment I played the game with and without sound (yeah, dumb experiment, I know) and without the sound the game was almost completely heartless and made me realise just how much they contribute to the game as a whole. Overall, very impressive.


Well, that's about it, really! Burnout Revenge is a really, really fun game and although I think its long-term appeal may be limited it'll be one of the first games you reach for when your mates come round for a beer. A must for those who haven't got any of the later games in the series.

The bottom line
8.5 / 10

Good stuff

  • Fast and solid driving experience
  • Wicked crashes
  • Great graphics
  • Impressive sound

Not so good stuff

  • A little limited, worries about longevity
  • Rank system seems flawed