Burnout 2: Point of Impact


posted 4/30/2003 by Charlie Sinhaseni
other articles by Charlie Sinhaseni
One Page Platforms: GC
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, GameCube 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.

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.
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