Review by IcedEarthaholic
"Burnout Into the Night"
Let me put it to you this way, Burnout Dominator wasn't even a blip on the radar screen for me, but a friend of mine ended up getting it for me for Christmas mainly because she couldn't find Burnout Legends anywhere. Either way, though I was a tad leery, I figured I'd give this game a shot and see what it was like. Imagine my surprise when I popped it in, and discovered a fun little racing game was to be had here.
Breakneck speed, smooth frame-rate, and tight control help make Burnout Dominator the enjoyable experience that it is. This game actually puts more of an emphasis on racing as opposed to crashing like Takedown and Revenge did, in fact, Crash Mode is completely absent from this game. In a way, it's a return to Burnout's roots as the first game put more of an emphasis on racing as well.
Again, controls are pretty tight, the cars handle smoothly and are very responsive, if not overly so at times, sometimes creating a frustrating moment where you end up turning a bit too sharply and end up going in reverse, fortunately this doesn't happen too, too often, and doesn't really hamper the overall gameplay. However, you can crash alot easier here than you can in Burnout Revenge due to the absence of Traffic Checking that Revenge featured.
There are a few modes of play in this game, Burning Lap makes a return, as does Road Rage, and two new modes called Maniac Mode and Drift Challenge make their debut here. Maniac mode is where you get rewarded boost for driving dangerously, like having near misses with traffic, or constantly driving in incoming traffic, and if you drift into a really sharp turn, it helps as well, the goal is to simply rack up as many points as possible. Drift Challenge is just that, you drift when taking a sharp turn and keep a drift going as long as possible in order to rack up points.
Also noted are the return of "Burnouts" from the first and second games of the series, these badboys make alot of difference here in terms of overall enjoyability of this game. How they work is this, if you manage to fill the flaming boost meter at the bottom of the screen all the way to the top, it then turns blue, meaning it's supercharged, you hold down the R button on top to boost, and if you managed to max out the yellow arrows behind the blue flames, you'll get another full set of supercharge, this is known as a "Burnout", and if you can keep this up, you can earn yourself what is known as a "Burnout Chain", these chains are sometimes necessary in order to rack up the amount of necessary points to win first place in
However, there are some niggling flaws that keep this game from being perfection on a handheld. For one, the absence of traffic checking means an accident with ongoing traffic, where you're actually facing the same direction as that traffic, destroys any and all Burnouts you had. It can also cost you the race unless you can activate what is known as a Crash Breaker, which if timed right, meaning if there's at least one rival around, can actually help your cause. Also, sometimes if you play too long, your hands get cramped up, and end up hurting really bad. Making long play an improbability unless you got a good grip.
But aside from that though, it's a nifty little game, and in my books, one of the better racers on the PSP. Tight controls, awesome sense of speed, and the return of the "Burnout" gives this game a good outlook, but the lack of a Crash mode, and Traffic Checking is enough for me to knock a point off, still, this game gets a 9 out of 10.
This one is a looker. Everything moves at a constant 60 frames per second, and it looks gorgeous to boot. I've always felt that the Burnout series is one that really pushed a system to it's limits with it's high amount of polish. This one is no exception. It has a high amount of polish in everything, the overall presentation fits dead on, it's a very industrialized and gritty look overall, but the color palette is still bright and easy on the eyes.
Most of the tracks look awesome as well, especially Bushido Peak/Valley, and Tuscan Hills/View, these two in particular make you wonder how the heck Criterion was able to pack so much detail into a handheld system, nothing was lost in the transition to the PSP, and it even gained in the form of two exclusive tracks that you can download, these two are also lookers too. Add to that a nice draw distance, and we got a winner.
The only thing keeping me from giving this game a 10 in the graphics department is sometimes traffic can be drawn in from out of nowhere, meaning you could end up crashing into a car that just popped in. Still, this game gets a 9 out of 10 in the graphics department.
When I first started this game, after the awesome CGV intro, the menu screen had Avril Lavigne's "Girlfriend" playing, a not so positive start for me since I hate Avril and her music with a passion. Top that off with four different variations of the song with the chorus in English, Spanish, Mandarin Chinese, and Japanese, and I was not feeling good about this game's soundtrack.
Fortunately, I was able to go into the options menu, and turn all of them off. What awaited me after that, was a much better soundtrack overall, I'd have to say overall it's even better than Burnout Revenge's soundtrack. With artists like The Sword, Alice In Chains, Killswitch Engage, and The Fratellis contributing, how can one not like the soundtrack? It's overall very fitting to the atmosphere.
However, the fact that Avril's song "Girlfriend" in four variations is on the list when it never should've been there in the first place, and the lack of custom soundtracks is enough for me to knock a whole point off of the soundtrack. Still, in spite of that, it gets a 9 out of 10.
What else can I say here? This game actually surprised me, I was leery of it, but I figured I'd give it a deserving chance. I am glad I did, as it turned out to be one of the better racers on the PSP, and one of the better racers I've played in a while. I give hats off to Criterion for creating an awesome experience for on the go fun.
The controls are tight and responsive, the soundtrack is decent and atmospheric, the gameplay is surprisingly fun too. I can happily say that I recommend this game to anyone who is a fan of arcade-style racers, the only way this game could've been better is if they brought in Crash Mode, and Traffic Checking. Still overall it's an awesome game, and if you can get it on the PSP, I recommend it.
Reviewer's Score: 9/10 | Originally Posted: 04/03/08
Game Release: Burnout Dominator (US, 03/06/07)
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