Burnout 2: Developer's Cut

Burnout 2: Developer's Cut

Written by Charlie Sinhaseni on 6/3/2003 for Xbox  

Burnout never quite received the attention that it deserved. Often times old-school gamers will whine and moan about the lack of true arcade racers yet when they finally receive one, they do everything in their power to avoid it. Good thing Acclaim didn’t let the lack of attention and hoopla towards Burnout ruin their spirits because otherwise, Xbox fans wouldn’t be able to enjoy this impressive sequel.

For the uninitiated, Burnout is all about racing at breakneck speeds while doing everything in your power to keep your insurance premiums from skyrocketing. In any normal game this would be a simple task but Burnout adds a twist, getting into accidents and colliding with objects has a real debilitating effect on your racing. You won’t be able to just graze off of buses while doing 100mph in your shiny new sports car; you can expect to pay a huge price. More than likely your vehicle will be sent skyrocketing into the air as bits and pieces of your baby litter the landscape. While speed and pure adrenalin racing are some of the game’s strongest points the true highlights here are the spectacular crashes.

Like the original players will race and zoom through a wide variety of environments with a multitude of souped-up vehicles. Although the environments and vehicles are all fictitious, it’s obvious that they’re based on real life vehicles and locales. After a small cursory glance it’s apparent that the sports car is a knockoff of the Ford Mustang and the roadster is a MR-2-style machine. Racing through the airport you’ll notice a building in the background that looks similar to the Mirage, giving the impression that you’re racing through Las Vegas.

New to this year’s game is the Crash Mode which essentially puts you in the middle of rush hour traffic and invites you to cause as much mayhem and carnage as possible. This mode is especially impressive because you’ll get some amazing cinematic angles. Buses that are heading towards a pile-up and can’t quite stop in time, big rigs that have jack knifed and are headed for trouble. This is truly an amazing mode and its relative simplicity makes all the more addicting. We found ourselves becoming addicted to this mode for hours at a time as it has that “one more game” sort of feel to it. As an added bonus to Xbox owners the developer’s cut of the game features a handful of new and exclusive crash junctions as well.

Racing through the cityscapes becomes even more intense after you factor in the traffic. The traffic in this game behaves pretty much like you’d expect real traffic to behave. This means it won’t pull asinine maneuvers like changing lanes in front of you for no apparent reason a la Midnight Club II. Trust us you haven’t felt adrenalin until you’ve squeezed yourself between a semi and a bus at 200mph. Thankfully the game has the tight controls to allow for you to perform such high-tension maneuvers on a consistent basis.

Controlling the vehicle is a sheer joy namely because the designers found a great blend of arcade and sim-style physics. While your car can power slide and drift around the environments it controls well enough to allow for you to weave in and out of traffic with precision. In fact most of your success depends on your ability to carve through traffic, especially when you hit the downtown areas. There’s traffic all over the place, traffic on windy mountain roads, oncoming traffic on highways, traffic stopped at intersections and even cross traffic that’ll sideswipe you on surface streets. The game has an awesome sensation of speed but it never gets out of control to the point where you don’t feel like you’re in control of your vehicle anymore. You haven’t seen excitement until you’ve hurled yourself into oncoming traffic at 150mph and swerved at the last second to prevent yourself from becoming road kill.
Just like its predecessor, Burnout 2 features a boost gauge that can be filled throughout the course of a race. For those who are new to the franchise, the gauge can be filled by what are essentially Crazy Taxi-like maneuvers. Doing things such as driving close to traffic, power sliding and gaining massive air will quickly fill your meter. After the meter fills you will be given a momentary boost that will help put some distance between yourself and the competition. Other than the boost function, the game plays primarily like your typical arcade racer.

Burnout 2 was released nearly half a year ago on the PS2 and it shows in this relatively unchanged port. The polished visuals that made Burnout such a crowd pleaser two years ago seem to have been relatively unchanged for this sequel. The sheen on the vehicles is just absolutely generic and for that matter, so are the relatively blocky and unrefined models. All of the little minute details that made Burnout 1 so impressive, such as the working turn signals, still look pretty decent but haven’t really aged too well. The traffic, although generic, looks pretty good as a whole but the actual player vehicles really detract from the overall visual package.

Vehicle deficiencies aside, the game still looks great thanks to the environments. There’s a real sense of scale here, you don’t just drive through the city, you’ll feel dwarfed by buildings and skyscrapers. Other trackside objects such as trees and barricades look pretty good as well, especially in terms of scale and ratio. Never once did I feel like I couldn’t walk step out of the vehicle and believe that I was in a fully realized world. While the general structure of the objects look pretty good some of the textures in the game could use a bit of work, especially the putrid dirt and rather pedestrian wall textures. Thankfully for the majority of the game you’ll be traveling fast enough to the point where you won’t even notice these deficiencies.

Crashes will send fenders, tires and various other pieces of your vehicle flying into the air in an amazing shower of sparks and rubble. To put things into perspective the crashes in Burnout 1 look tame in comparison to what this bigger and badder entry has to offer. Vehicles will now be flung into the air and tumble end over end until they become unrecognizable scraps of metal. We especially loved how the action keeps moving around you regardless of the crash. This causes even more vehicles to be sucked up in the wake of your chaos, leading to massive pileups in the middle of long and speedy highways. This is the perfect game for people who are looking for a great mesh of high octane racing and pure destruction and mayhem.

The same goes for the audio elements. Most of the audio in the game, with the exception of the decent Dolby Digital effects, are pretty much generic and uneventful. Each of the music tracks in the game are your generic background fodder, essentially what you might expect to hear from a Disney made for TV movie of the week. This is the perfect example for everyone out there who wonders what all the hoopla with licensed soundtracks is about. At least the Xbox version allows the usage of custom soundtracks during the races. Like the GameCube version the sound is still a bit unbalance and distorted, as if it were recorded at a very low quality.
In addition to the lackadaisical sound effects there are a few other problems with the game. The lack of a rear-view mirror makes blocking opponents a chore; to the point where you’ll probably neglect that aspect of racing entirely. Instead of being able to keep your eyes on the road while spying your opponents you’ll instead have to push the X button to look behind you, taking your vantage point off of the road ahead. Of course in most instances you’ll look forward just quickly enough to notice a sharp upcoming turn or a big rig that just happened to wander into your path when you weren’t paying attention.

There also seems to be a small problem with the collision detection of the game. It’s obvious that the accidents are triggered when contact is made between your vehicle and an object but it’s no so obvious exactly how much force is required to set them off. Sometimes I’ll hit the side of a bus while going over 100mph and I’ll just graze off of it and go on my merry way, sometimes I’ll hit that same bus going 30mph and I’ll set off a spectacular crash. It’s a strange problem that existed in the first Burnout as well.

Make no mistake about it, the Xbox version is the superior of the three versions currently available on the market. It features cleaner visuals, better audio elements, more vehicles with different paint schemes, more extreme crashes and a blazing fast frame rate that lends the game a convincing sense of speed and velocity. As a whole I also felt that the Xbox version felt the most comfortable as I was able to maneuver and dodge through traffic with much greater ease. I’m a little disappointed by the Xbox Live support though, online racing would have been a blast with this game, but as it stands the ability to compare your time against other racers around the nation is still pretty sweet.

If you’re looking for a game where you spend more time putting the pedal to the metal instead of trying to hit the apex of a turn, then you’ll definitely want to check out Burnout 2. This game is for guys who love to push their beasts to the max, men who love to forget about the brake from now and then and rely on the walls to keep them on the track. When it comes to straight-up racing games on the Xbox there simply is no better choice than Acclaim’s Burnout 2.
When it comes to straight up racing games on the Xbox, this is as good as it gets. Great graphics, breakneck speeds and frantic all-thrills racing equates to one arcade racer that you simply must own. Better crashes and the smoother frame rate also make this version the best of the bunch.

Rating: 8.9 Class Leading

* The product in this article was sent to us by the developer/company for review.


About Author

Gaming has been a part of my life for as long as I could remember. I can still recall many a lost nights spent playing Gyromite with that stupid robot contraption for the old NES. While I'm not as old as the rest of the crew around these parts, I still have a solid understanding of the heritage and the history of the video gaming industry.

It's funny, when I see other people reference games like Doom as "old-school" I almost begin to cringe. I bet that half of these supposed "old-school" gamers don't even remember classic games like Rise of the Triad and Commander Keen. How about Halloween Harry? Does anyone even remember the term "shareware" anymore? If you want to know "old-school" just talk to John. He'll tell you all about his favorite Atari game, Custer's Revenge.

It's okay though, ignorance is bliss and what the kids don't know won't hurt them. I'll just simply smile and nod the next time someone tells me that the best entry in the Final Fantasy franchise was Final Fantasy VII.

When I'm not playing games I'm usually busy sleeping through classes at a boring college in Southern Oregon. My current hobbies are: writing songs for punk rock bands that never quite make it, and teasing Bart about... well just teasing Bart in general. I swear the material writes itself when you're around this guy. He gives new meaning to the term "moving punching bag."

As for games, I enjoy all types except those long-winded turn-based strategy games. I send those games to my good pal Tyler, I hear he has a thing for those games that none of us actually have the time to play.

When I'm not busy plowing through a massive pile of video games I spend all of my time trying to keep my cute little girl fed. She eats a ton but damn she's so hot. Does anyone understand the Asian girl weight principal? Like they'll clean out your fridge yet still weigh less than 110 pounds.

Currently I'm playing: THUG, True Crime, Prince of Persia, Project Gotham 2 and Beyond Good & Evil. View Profile

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