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Burnout

Score: 75%
ESRB: Everyone
Publisher: Acclaim
Developer: Criterion
Media: CD/1
Players: 1 - 4
Genre: Racing

Graphics & Sound:

While it's no Gran Turismo, Burnout's graphics are above par, and they don't get much worse than that. The textures, as well as the special effects, seem to be following the recurring style of a lot of Xbox games. And even though the backgrounds are nicely detailed, there is absolutely no drop-in effect at all. It seems this blemish has left the world of racing games forever, and good riddance. Despite the rest of the graphics, though, the crashes are what Burnout prides itself on. High-speed collisions are all too prevalent in this game, and the resulting chaos is usually played out in quite an astounding way. Cars don't tumble or flip as much as would have been nice, but the high speed wrecks surely are something to gawk at.

Though nice to look at, Burnout shortchanged its audio experience. The music isn't bad, but it hardly adds to any experience at all. The sound effects are too weak for the crashes that take place, and there is little variance between them. A little extra effort here could have gone a long way.


Gameplay:

At its heart, Burnout is a racing game and not much more. More emphasis has been put on vehicular collisions than in most other titles of the genre, but once you get right down to it, your main goal is to get to the finish line as quickly as possible. An old idea that is tried and true for sure, but when that's all the game is, you're basically playing a better looking Pole Position instead of a next generation title.

There are several different types of races you can compete in. The first and most important are the Championship races. Here you race on three different courses, and you must achieve a certain place at the end of each course in order to advance to the next Championship race.

Finishing a Championship race opens up other racing modes, which leads us to Survival and Face Off. In Survival mode, you get to race one on one with a special hidden car. Beating the race unlocks that car and allows you to use it in any mode offered. Survival mode has you racing solo on any track you like, but one wreck and it's all over. You can't take your sweet time either, as you have to hit checkpoint after checkpoint in the time allotted. This isn't easy. It's also not very fun.

The rest of the races, like Single Race, Time Attack and Head to Head, are all very generic and offer little more in the way of gameplay. They are basically attempts to add replay value, but were too weak to accomplish anything other than to take up space.


Difficulty:

Burnout is not a very hard game. Some of the later Championship races get a little challenging, but everything else is pretty much a cakewalk. The difference between the easy and hard cars is apparent, but you really can't go wrong with any of them. The opponent AI isn't bad, either, but definitely not as polished as it should be. In fact, it is almost like racing against another person. The problem is that they are always faster than you are, no matter who is in which car. They just get into more accidents along the way so they don't drastically overtake you.

Game Mechanics:

Burnout encourages insane driving techniques. In fact, it rewards you every time you come close to hitting someone, driving in the wrong lane, or if you power slide around a corner. The reward comes in the form of a little bit being added to your Burnout Meter. When this meter is full, you can attain a boost in speed by holding down the boost button, but only as long as the meter doesn't run out.

Crashes don't occur every time you tap into another vehicle, but bumping into the larger ones (i.e. trucks and buses) at just the right angle can end your trip pretty quickly. While the crashes are balanced well and add a good element to the game itself, it doesn't really help out the fact that there isn't anything great about it. There is a top ten list for players who cost the most in insurance money, but this is only for looks and doesn't offer any rewards. Burnout has decent gameplay, but you'll be burnt out on playing it before long.


-Snow Chainz, GameVortex Communications
AKA Andrew Horwitz

Microsoft Xbox NFL Blitz 20-03 Microsoft Xbox Dave Mirra Freestyle BMX 2

 
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