Review by Sonic T H
"A very addictive game that just scratches the surface..."
Synopsis restatement: A very addictive game that just scratches the surface...
Best Features: Tight control. Unique risk-taking/reward system. Good track design. Amazingly accurate crash dynamics. Excellent lighting effects.
Worst Features: Doesn't go far enough. Needs more modes and cars. Not enough secrets. Music is rather dead. Low AI difficulty.
If you've ever watched The Fast and the Furious, you'd probably experience that rush during the race sequences that makes you want to get into a souped-up street racer and blow some dust in someone else's face. Welcome to Burnout. The one game I think that could fulfil such fantasies. You get your tricked-out cars and potentially fatal traffic flying at you while you use your turbo (or as my friend and I call it, NOS (so it sounds more like street racing)) to hurtle into oncoming cars. However, the game also rewards you for doing risky things. Let's move on with the review and I'll explain.
The game is excels in this department. The buildings and traffic display an unusual amount of detail as you blaze by them. If you stop to look, you can see how much work went into them. The individual cars look just as good. With advanced lighting, surrounding light sources shine onto the cars with amazing dynamics. If you're in a tunnel lit by overhead lights, you see it reflect off your car and shimmer. The lush surroundings bring you into the world of the race and allow you to experience the feel of speed. When you hit the boost, the entire world becomes blurry as your car rockets forward. The entire experience is very deep.
The sound gets credit for being authentic. Scrapes, engines, tire skids, and crashes sound like you'd expect. However, the game's soundtrack is lacking. For a street racing game, you usually don't expect to hear violins playing to the race. For this game to excel, you want to at least hear some aggressive tunes (if not licensed). This is probably the only thing that doesn't actually make it seem like street racing. However, if you turn down the sound and pump up your own tunes, you'll get the right effect.
Topnotch control. The game's strongest category. Frankly, I've never played a racing game that allows you such a tight grip on your car. Powerslides, quick reaction turns, etc. Its all very easy to perform. I learned this game the second I picked it up. Acclaim can certainly can craft a racing game. In fact, the game's control is so tight, a beginner could pick one of the Hard cars the first time you play and still have a fighting chance. Its just that good.
Of course, the fine control plays a role in all this. However, its how the game takes advantage of that control. Acclaim has implemented an unique kind of turbo-earning system. As you race into traffic, you have a small bar on the lower left of the screen. This is your turbo (or Burnout) bar. As you pull off risky maneuvers during a race (racing into oncoming traffic, drifting/powersliding, coming closer than an inch to your traffic, and/or running a lap without crashing), the bar begins to fill. Once its maxed, you can hit the R button and your car will accelerate to an even faster top speed. During this time, you can still earn boost power by doing all of the above. The objective here is to continuously earn boost power so every time your bar expires, you get another full bar. However, sometimes, you'll just have to crash. When you do, your car's boost meter will drop back down and you need to start over. However, when that time comes where you do crash, enjoy it. When you hit another car (or stationary object), you'll see quite possibly the most advanced crash physics engine ever crafted. Glass will shatter, cars will flip over, etc. You'll have to see it to believe it.
Replay Value: 6
Sadly, this is where the game begins to fall short. The game does have a supply of secrets. However, its fairly easy to expose them. You can earn new cars, tracks (the game has quite a few but some of the tracks you open are reverses of others), and game modes. That may sound like a lot but the game is low in difficulty. It is possible to lose but more than likely you'll be seeing victory lane more often than you want. The races can start to get boring since you win so often. You'll open up secrets like nothing because the challenges required to open up said secrets end rather quickly. This game could have been so much more (however, this is all made up for in its sequel, Burnout 2), but fails to meet its full potential.
This is just one game in a million. Racing games are a dime a dozen these days and it takes some innovation to get ahead. Burnout is that game that got ahead. Its fast, its fun, and its exciting. However, its an unfortunately short ride. This game has the chance to become one of the great racing games of all time but doesn't stack up correctly. Try Burnout 2 instead, which is a much meatier experience. If you have and are wondering what this one was like, go ahead and give it a rental.
Reviewer's Score: 8/10 | Originally Posted: 06/06/03, Updated 06/06/03
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