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Burnout 2
Review By:  J. Michael Neal
Developer:  Criterion Games
Publisher:  Acclaim
# of Players:  1-4
Genre:  Racing
ESRB:  Everyone
Online:  No
Accessories:  Memory Card
Date Posted:  11-20-02

The Burnout series has come a long way since last year, but has yet to reach its full potential. Burnout has always been all about reckless driving and big crashes, and Burnout 2: Point of Impact is no exception. This year the insanity has been amped by improving graphics and physics, but a short single player replay value keeps this game from getting fully recommended.

First of all the graphics and physics of the first game have been vastly improved. The car models have had a substantial polygon increase, the environments are highly detailed and jaggy free, and the car damage seems much more realistic. You know, realistic in a Hollywood action-movie sort of way. Head to head the game looks much better than even Gran Turismo 3, and can easily hold itís own against any other racer on the market.

Burnout 2 has two main modes, the Championship mode and the Crash mode. The Championship mode plays like the standard Test Drive style, street racing, arcade game with one difference: you are rewarded for how close to the edge of disaster you race on. Driving against traffic, cutting dangerously close to other cars, getting mad air, or making wild turns fills your Turbo Bar. Once full, your Turbo Bar allows you kick on the nitro and leave your competitors in the dust. Completing Championship tournaments will unlock new tracks and more powerful cars.

The Crash mode is easily the best part of Burnout 2. The sole goal of Crash mode is to cause as big of a car accident as possible. The bigger the pile-up, the more extensive the damage, the more pricey the vehicles, the better. Punching the gas and ramming your car headlong into a semi, then waiting to see how many other cars get caught in the carnage, is one of the most enjoyable things you can do on your PS2. It brings back childhood memories of slamming Hot Wheels cars into each other and watching them fly. While this premise may sound a bit thin, it is fun enough to keep you engaged for hours.

Trust me. Invite some friends over and see how much fun you have with the four-player mode.

The problem with Burnout 2 is that outside of the multiplayer Crash mode there isnít much else to keep you coming back for more. The single player game is far too easy to hold ones attention for long. It can be completed in a day or two by veteran racing fans. On the multiplayer front, with the exception of the Crash mode, itís nothing you havenít seen before. There just seems to be so many other things you can do with the central concept of Burnout than what has been implemented here. The Crash mode is a great idea but you need to pack a few more into the title in order for it to really be worth talking about. Be creative Criterion. Maybe take a few pages from the book of Stuntman and include objective-based mission, or mini-games that focus on crashing into specific targets, or seeing how much damage you can deliver to your vehicle in a single crash, or just how reckless you can drive without crashing.

While Burnout 2 is a great game that does a lot right it canít get my full recommendation. The multiplayer Crash mode is a total blast, but that alone isnít enough to warrant a purchase. If you were a big fan of the original, this game is well worth the money. If you are a fan of Reflectionís Stuntman, Driver, or Destruction Derby series than you might want to give this game a spin at your local rental chain. Anyone else will find that a game like Need For Speed: Hot Pursuit 2 will be much more rewarding in the long run. It has the deep single player game that Burnout 2 lacks, while still offering a comparable multiplayer experience.

HIGHS:

  • Top-notch visuals and physics
  • Crash mode is highly enjoyable
  • White-knuckle racing at its best

LOWS:

  • Single player game is too short and easy to complete
  • Lacks any other multiplayer games as fun or inventive as Crash mode

FINAL VERDICT:

Burnout 2 will please fans of the series, or any other car destruction based franchise, but will fail to win over newcomers with its lack of depth and short replay value. If you are curious, please, rent it first.

Overall Score: 7.6

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