I don’t know about State side, but on UK shores Burnout was supported by a massive marketing campaign and fortunately for you, I’m here to see if it lives up to the hype. Heralded as the driving game to rival all driving games, Burnout promised to bring us state-of-the-art physics and simply the best crashes in the world ever, infinity, turn around, touch the ground"
Er"anyway, Burnout allows the player to race along highways and through city streets. And here’s the best part, you get to race through traffic. As you can imagine this leads to high crash potential. There are up to three other cars racing you each time and it’s your job to weave in and out of the traffic to finish ahead of the pack.
Sounds simple enough, I hear you say. Well, there are a few snags along the way. These things are sent to try us gamers and we must stand up to the challenge.
First, in true arcade style you get three credits at the beginning of the level, which consists of three races. To qualify in race one your car must come in at least third with one credit remaining, or else it’s game over man!
So, like an obedient little game player, I head to the garage and choose from the shabby array of cars. They range from something that looks like a Nissan Micra, rated easy, through to a nippy sports car and a big, shiny pickup, rated difficult. I figure I don’t want to shoot myself in the foot with some frisky sports car, so I opt for a kinda sporty red number, rated medium.
Next stop, the starting line and we all head out into the rush hour traffic. This game has some serious speed and that coupled with commuter traffic, buses and trucks makes things a little hairy. It’s great!
Oh, yeah, the second snag is there are checkpoints. If you don’t make it before the clock ticks down it’s, you guessed it, game over man!
As you’ve been so patient, I’ll get onto the crashes. They are cool!. Witness as everything goes slow-mo and your car spins across three lanes of traffic. The only drawback being the amount of time you lose watching the cut scene. The aim of the game is to get through in a clean run, which is tricky because the courses are long and you have to complete three laps. It’s not hard to get ahead of the other cars, so I found I could lead all the way and then screw it up on the last lap and fail to qualify.
The most satisfying thing is swerving to avoid a truck and hearing your opponent behind, stacking into the back of it with a screech of tires and the shattering of glass. Wha ha ha! Or blatantly running them off the road and into oncoming traffic is always a favourite of mine. Tee hee.
Right, I’ve finally managed to qualify in race one and come across snag three. You can’t save until you’ve completed the whole level, which means my credits have to last me through three races. You have got to be kidding me! But I suck at this game and that means I’ll have to play for like hours to get good enough! Sulk, whimper.
Okay, this calls for a different strategy. It’s time to upgrade to a faster car and get some serious lap practice in. This is where Single Race mode comes in handy. Here you are free from Championship pressures and it’s pure racing to get you up to standard. The name of my new game attack is, memorise the tracks, learn the traffic patterns and come in first with all three credits intact. This is serious arcade action and not to be taken lightly.
Hooray! It’s a game that celebrates reckless driving and rewards you for it. The more risks you take against oncoming traffic, the higher your ‘burn meter’ gets. Then the annihilation of your opponents is within your grasp. When the burn meter is full, the car can reach ludicrous speeds and the other drivers can eat your beautifully simulated dust particles.
Burnout looks stunning at times, if a little hectic. But once you realise that Acclaim isn’t going for the hyperrealism of GT3, you can fully appreciate the lovely locations on US and European roads. Some of the tracks are gorgeous and wind along coastal roads straight out of the French Riviera. Think Brigitte Bardot on a drive with James Bond and you’ll be getting close. The real thrill comes from being suddenly blinded by a cloud of dust kicked up by another car and really wanting to examine the street you’ve just gone through like a bat out of hell.
If you want to feel speed, then buy Burnout now! Overtaking against the flow of traffic, through a tunnel as the lights go streaking by is the coolest thing ever. You can’t take your eyes off the screen and any false move could spell your doom. At times the physics are awesome, as you feel the car skitter over bumps in the road and lift off the tarmac.
When it comes to the crashes, the physics feels a little choreographed. It’s all a bit scripted like, "hit bus at lights, bus veers to right, you spin to left, meanwhile blue car stacks into back of red car." Damage is limited to a crumpled bonnet and shattered windows regardless of severity. Nevertheless, watching John Woo style crashes does ease the pain of screwing up your race.
Warning: this game is rock hard.
Another warning: Do not attempt to play ten minutes prior to going out to the pub. You will never make it to the pub, you will not answer the phone and you will be unable to even grunt at your boyfriend or girlfriend who’s asking, "can we go yet?"
This fine example of highly addictive arcade entertainment gets 4 GiN gems from me. If the cars were looking far more fly, this would be The Fast and The Furious on a console"heh, cooool.