Developer: Criterion Studios
Release Date: April 28, 2003
Lately, the racing genre has been seeing a lot of rather straightforward racing games. While not all of them are really bad or anything, there aren't many that really stand out from the crowd. Burnout 2, the latest from Acclaim, attempts to do stand out, however. It's much more of an arcade game than most of the other top-notch games on the Xbox, but it's right up there with the best.
The heart of the game is in it's boost meter. You can fill it with dangerous driving tactics - doing things such as passing close by cars, driving in the opposite lane, or powersliding. When it's full, you simply hold in the A button and fly forward. This is where things get really crazy. If you drive well, you'll be rewarded with extra boost, allowing you to continue for an infinite amount of time. It's possible to boost through the majority of the race, if you're good enough. If not... prepare to crash.
And what crashes! If you manage to do a significant amount of damage to yourself or others (and believe me, going that fast, you will), you'll be treated to an awesome slow-mo shot of the collision. There are so many possibilities - you'll never see the same accident twice. After a few seconds, you'll be put back on the track, good as new.
The main mode of the game, Championship, will take you through a series of different races. There are four main Gran Prix events, each consisting of three to six different tracks. You'll be able to unlock a majority of the available tracks by playing through them. There are also one-on-one races, where you can win the vehicle you're racing against. Tack on some pursuit races, and you have a compelling, fresh game to play through. Plus, once you complete Championship mode, you open up a second Championship mode, with even more to do.
The cars are lavishly detailed, each taking on a distinct look. There's the bulky SUV, the sleek Coupe, the sexy Roadster, the beefy Muscle car, and the powerful Oval Racer, among others. Each one has a number of different skins to allow for a little customization. The best part is the control, though; the game's controls are super sharp and responsive, and the physics are perfect. Not too realistic, but fun - they keep the game from appearing stiff, and other driving games often don't accomplish this.
The tracks are perfectly fitting and lots of fun to drive on. There are a number of themes, and several different courses involving each, from the huge Interstate highway, to the busy Airport, to desert areas or pleasant little towns. Each track is well thought out, with lots of variety. There's so much detail in each level that you wish you could get out and explore - they're that nice.
Burnout 2's graphics compliment everything else quite well - they're pretty and well-designed. They may not have a ton of bump-mapping and nifty Xbox-ized graphical touches, but car models are gorgeous, and as I said before, environments are incredibly detailed. And as much as you don't want to ruin the awesome cars, it has to be said that the crashes look incredible. Car parts fly everywhere, metal crumples, trucks jack-knife, small vehicles launch into the air... it's crazy, but too much fun to watch.
In fact, that's where the game's addictive Crash Mode comes into play. You get to race on a bunch of tracks where there's a good chance you can cause a lot of damage. You get a full boost meter, so short of setting your car on fire, you have all the necessary ingredients to make quite a massacre. Every bit of damage you do is worth a certain amount of points, and causing chain reactions results in score multipliers. You can end up with crashes with over fifty million dollars in damages. Okay, that may never happen in real life, but it's still a lot of fun to see who can get the best score.
Sound is also quite good. Engine sounds are very nice, and sound effects like the grinding of guard rails, the honking of horns, and the like, are all well-done. The game's background music isn't too bad, but it features custom soundtrack support, too. A nice little touch is the easy skipping of tracks with two buttons on the controller; one button skips to the next track, and another switches to the next soundtrack. It's very nice to be able to change the music while still driving, instead of having to pause the game.
Topping it all off is the multiplayer mode, which is excellent. You can play a single race, participate in a pursuit mode (where you must chase another car down, continually banging it up), or take turns in the Crash mode. You can use any track or vehicle that you have unlocked, making for tons of possibilities. And thanks to the game's easy controls, just about anyone can pick up a controller and have fun.
All in all, Burnout 2 is an awesome title. It's a lot of fun, with a unique concept, and continually throws fresh ways to play at you. The level of detail is stunning, and the graphics and sound are very well done. The Championship modes will keep you glued to the TV, and all of the Multiplayer modes will keep you coming back for more. Burnout 2 is one of the best arcade racers of recent times! Don't miss out!