The Burnout series has always been home to experimentation. Each version of the game has been altered so significantly that it has changed how we look at racing games as a whole. This is largely down to the time Criterion spent ensuring that each release was something special. So, to see them release a game so soon after Burnout 3 was worrying. Were we to expect a watered down version of the last game? A glorified add-on pack? We started the demo with nervous anticipation...
Well the truth behind Burnout Revenge isn't quite as damning as we feared it would be. Now, the game doesn't seem to have changed in terms of the basic mechanics developed in Burnout 3, though, thankfully, Criterion have made some significant changes in other areas. It still looks glorious, of course, but I'd like to think that goes without saying for the Burnout games. However, the entire look seems to have changed. Gone are the large tracks of bright concrete (well for the most part) and in come gritty back streets and railway depots. It's like the grimy look we've become accustomed to of late in certain games, but done well. These locales have also encouraged completely different track structure than we've have seen before. Courses no longer just flow in one straight line; they're a chain of shortcuts, diversions and jumps. That's right, jumps. Yes, it's a fairly basic addition and one that really should have been included some time ago, but Criterion has tied it into the Burnout world rather neatly. The core to this is the new vertical takedown, allowing you to drop onto of a rival. Very satisfying and I can see it as another great way to annoy friends in multiplayer.
The Revenge subtitle is a major clue to the newest feature in the game, though. It's related to takedowns, of course, but is actually a clever little system that could really spice up multiplayer games. Once somebody takes you down an indicator will appear above their head, showing the car you need to get revenge on. Obviously taking them down comes with some rewards, and you will get an extra boost for any revenge takedowns you make. If anything takedowns are even more of a focus in this game with the developers doing everything in their power to make it as violent as possible. This includes bringing crash breaker from the crash modes into the main game: Depending on your boost bar you can cause huge explosions once you crash, making aftertouch takedowns that much easier. You can now also take out traffic that is moving in the same direction as you, making the racing even more brutal.
All of the old game modes are back too, and you will be pleased to hear that crash mode had been reigned in slightly. The much maligned four times multiplier has been removed, making crash mode into a skilled game again rather than the 'hit the multiplier' game it had become. The newest mode is Traffic Attack, which allows you to rack up a score by destroying traffic along various courses. This is extremely satisfying and operates like a free form crash mode. You can create your own pileups anywhere you want and cause a ridiculous amount of damage with ease. As you can imagine, we're keeping our fingers crossed for a multiplayer version of this mode. Unfortunately, Criterion has yet to reveal any of the multiplayer details, but we'd say most of these modes will be supported.
The key thing about this game is that if you didn't like Burnout 3, you probably won't like Burnout Revenge. They are very similar and Burnout Revenge is still more of a combat racing experience than the pure racing that Burnout 2 offered. There's still enough new content to warrant a purchase, though, and I'd say the new traffic attack mode will become an all-new post pub favourite. So, from what we've seen so far, it may be very similar to Burnout 3, but when a game is as good as this, more of the same is most definitely not a bad thing.