My most played game from last year has got to be Burnout 3: Takedown. It was everything I had always wanted from a racing game and was always a blast to play. Burnout 3 was my perfect racing game, and I would have had to struggle to think of anyway to improve it. Luckily the guys and gals at Criterion have also been thinking of ways to improve things and had a lot more success than I have.
To put it simply, Burnout is now faster, meaner, slicker and smarter than ever before. The first major change, and to me the most important are the track designs. Upon reflection Takedowns tracks were pretty simple without any real interaction as it was all about avoiding the traffic. Revenge adds shortcuts, multiple routes, huge air and more types of hazards to the mix. Whilst I was worried multiple routes would water down the action, it has actually done anything but. Because the routes are fairly brief and intertwined, cars are often crisscrossing constantly and if you take the highroad you even have a chance of taking out your opponents from above. Each track also feels more unique making for more varied racing.
It also won’t take you long to discover another radical gameplay alteration, you can now hit smaller traffic travelling in the same direction as you. This is known as ‘checking’ and if you are a long time burner it takes a little getting used too. In the old games you had to avoid absolutely all the traffic on the screen, which was kind of the entire point of the Burnout series. Whilst it could be argued to take some of the edge off the gameplay I think that the aggressive AI and trickier tracks even things out somewhat. The cool bit about ‘checking’ traffic however is that, if done right this can leave chaos in your wake making things that much more difficult for any cars behind you. If you have enough speed you can also ram traffic into cars your tailing or cause some major pile-ups by sending the unsuspecting vehicle into the oncoming lane… straight into a truck!
Single Player is made up of all your usual game modes offering some great variety. Getting bored of racing for first? Relive some stress by seeing how many cars you can total in the crash junctions. Speaking of crash junctions, instead of just being junctions ripped out of existing courses, each intersection here is lovingly created to serve up mayhem in deliciously cunning ways. Road Rage is also back and remains unchanged from last time, being all about taking out the most computer cars and Revenge even offers a whole new game mode where you’re constantly against the clock and the only way to gain time is to check traffic. It’s all good fun and unlocking everything and getting gold medals in every event will take even hardened burners a good amount of time.
Once you have unlocked a few fast cars, it’s time to take things online. Whilst Revenge is a fantastic single player game, once again it truly shines when you add human racers. Online things get even more frantic than ever with cars flying in absolutely all directions at huge speeds – it’s something you really do have to experience for yourself. Make sure you have a microphone connected though, as venting your road rage is half the fun!
Now it wouldn’t be an EA game if it wasn’t full of glitz. Revenge manages to look even prettier than its predecessors, which is a huge compliment as Takedown was already one of the best looking games from this generation. The frame rate is scorchingly fast and always silky smooth, the cars and courses are deliciously detailed and the crashes are sheer carnage. It’s pure eye candy and if this is what the current gen consoles can do, then I am in no rush to upgrade. Of course the audio is a treat too, the sound effects are spot on, in an exaggerated way and the play list is full of upcoming bands including a track from the new Thrice album! (I love Thrice)
My biggest concern for this game is if it would still be interesting after playing Burnout 3 for a year solid. Whilst I was of course expecting good things, Revenge managed to exceed my expectations, still delivering a fresh rush even to jaded burners such as myself. Burnout still manages to be so good that even people that despise racing games struggle to hide sporting a cheesy grin the first time they ram someone into an oncoming trailer.