"Racing for gamers that don't like racing"

I've never been a big fan of racing games. NASCAR seemed impossibly boring to me, and most of the others, including street racing games, just seemed shallow and repetitive. I heard that Burnout 2 had a cool crash mode that sounded like a pleasant change, as it at least meant it had a cool crash physics engine, something I'd not really seen in other racing games before. I was not disappointed.

There's not much bad I can say about this game, other than it lacks detail in some ways, and can be frustrating in others. Actually racing is enjoyable, even for someone that doesn't typically like racing, like me. The collision detection is sharp enough that you can't just go recklessly flying through traffic without some skill, yet is forgiving enough that you needn't be perfect every time, which is a blessing considering some unlocks require you to get a gold medal on up to six races in a row, without the ability to retry if you do poorly. Pursuit mode breaks up the solid racing, though I wish they'd included a second, faster police car, as later in the game the pursuit targets get very difficult to catch. The AI opponents don't seem to cheat MUCH, though they do use a sort of boost-start technique that isn't covered in the tutorial or the manual, and might not be possible for players to perform. They also seem to be far better drivers, or even faster more powerful, in face off or pursuit modes than they are in other modes, meaning on a few events, if you make a mistake you might as well restart.

There are plenty of unlocks to keep busy with, but they aren't really distributed well. Not only must one complete the tutorial to unlock any other mode, but the game gives you the two most powerful cars before the end of the first championship, making the cars unlocked during the second championship useless, other than for style.

By far, my favorite mode is Crash Mode. The purpose of crash mode is to cause serious damage by ramming your car into others, causing chain reactions that lead to horrible multi-car accidents. There are thirty crash mode levels, though they don't seem to be arranged by difficulty; I found the third level to be the most difficult to get a gold on. Crash mode is disappointing only in its extreme details in some aspects, yet lack of details in others. Cars tip and tumble realistically, windows spiderwebbing and shattering, yet there's very little smoke, no fire, no blood, and no explosions. When I got that bus to ram that oil tanker, the tank really should have ruptured. Instead, not a dent on it; it seems impossible to flip tractor trailers, and very difficult to flip busses. Also, drivers blithely run right into a horrible crash, even if they could see it a half-mile away. Finally, the game takes a snapshot of the crash and calculates your score from that, even if there are still vehicles in motion. Thus, slow but precise crashes won't cut it. To score, a crash must be fast and furious. The collision detection feels a little too forgiving here sometimes, and many crashes come down to luck, over strategy.

Multiplayer is satisfying, but some of the choices they made for it are very confusing. For instance, there's multiplayer crash mode, but all it consists of is players taking turns doing a crash level. They even have to share a controller, yet the game allows configuration of up to four controllers. Pursuit is a lot of fun with two players, but there's no option to select who chases who. Again, players must trade controllers to switch roles.

For a game about street racing, I expected there to be some way to customize cars, but you can only pick a paint job. Even the unlockable Custom series of cars have set stats.

The good far outweighs the bad though, and I've enjoyed the game immensely. I've heard from some racing fans that it's unrealistic as far as physics go, but I like it just fine.

Reviewer's Rating:   4.5 - Outstanding

Originally Posted: 11/19/03

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