Burnout 2: Point of Impact

Overview

Burnout was a pretty well received racing game boasting realistic crashes on busy highways. Released over all formats it had a lot of potential but it did show flaws in certain areas, mainly the graphics. It was a little grainy and sometimes flickered in order to try and push to the limits to give the player that supreme sensation of speed. Well, faster than a hotrod down an interchange, developers Criterion Games are back with Burnout 2: Point of Impact. It doesn’t offer that much of a change but it tweaks an already great game into a vision of arcade racing perfection.

Gameplay

Burnout 2 excels not only in the graphical department but also in its gameplay. Like any other racing game you choose a car and a track. In this case there are around 8 different cars and 5 or so tracks. Unlike many other racer however, Burnout’s tracks are situated in busy airport terminals and interchanges. During blasts of incomparable speed you are forced to weave in and out of oncoming traffic. Yes, forced.

Your primary asset whilst racing against your 3 determined opponents or when trying to bash cars of the road, is your speed boost. It shows as a bar in the bottom left and when it is full you are given the option of boosting your speed. If you hold down this boost until it runs out you’ll achieve burnout or top speed. If you manage to fill it again whilst it’s going down and your boost continues after it is empty then you’ll achieve burnout X1 and so on. This results in insane speeds. So how do you fill it? As I said you are forced to take risks on the road and there are several dangerous manoeuvres, which give you points and fill your boost bar. These are, driving on the wrong side of the road, power sliding, jumping over bumps and narrowly missing traffic. This all makes for the most exhilarating, adrenalin pumping racing ever. Some of you hardcore Wipeout fans might be livid at what I have just said but there’s a gameplay element included here that makes Burnout 2 a cut above the rest in the racing genre (as a whole, Wipeout is still the king of futuristic racers, so please don’t kill me) and that is the crashes. Here on the Burnout 2 roads crashes may not be encouraged on the championship mode but they do forgive you unlike so many others. How many times have you suffered one crash in Wipeout or V-Rally just to see your time go down the pan and your opponents race of into the horizon never to be seen again? That’s not the case here as it just doesn’t happen. Crashing makes the game slightly more challenging but manages to maintain the fun factor and not plague you with frustration. Often when you crash you’ll see one or two of your opponent’s race in front so they are still in view and with a slight battle you’ll be able to catch them up. Some may think it’s too easy this way but to be honest I don’t care - it’s just so darn good, no mistake.

On top of the normal racing in championship mode you’ll be pitted against a new car in order to unlock it or be placed in a police car in a frantic chase and so on. Completion of tasks in this mode unlocks the next task and its rewards are revealed. It might not take long to progress but you’ll want to come back to it still. Its difficulty sometimes and its length are Burnout 2’s only real flaws still included but it still oozes replay value.

You may not be encouraged to crash in the championship mode but in the crash mode you…are. Here your aim is to achieve the highest speed whilst plummeting down a hill, then to crash into the traffic in front resulting in motorway mayhem. The more cars, buses and trucks you manage to disrupt and shove off the road the more points you get and this can be a lot of fun with your friends. Other than this there’s always the multi-player races that will undoubtedly produce and reproduce hours of fun.

Graphics

Burnout’s main but only slight flaw has been rectified, and it now looks like one of the most beautiful games to date. There isn’t a hint of grain or flicker but most importantly not a hint of slowdown. Burnout 2 manages to be the fastest feeling game ever, possibly even faster than Wipeout but it also goes one better than that and manages to keep the essence of graphical perfection that Wipeout Fusion found so hard to maintain.

Everything is extremely solid looking, rivalling Project Gotham Racing and equalling Gran Turismo. Everything is solid, that is, until you crash and when you do you probably won’t want to stop. The highly detailed crumple of metal on metal is so satisfying to watch and has been so brilliantly executed it’s hard to fathom just how they managed to make everything around so concrete, no jagged edges or weakness in structure to be seen. Glass shatters, shards of metal roll across the street and the beams sunlight realistically follow the contours of your crumples. The physics also help to enhance the overall beauty of everything that has gone into this game. If only GTA 3 looked as good as this.

The surroundings look as solid as the cars with breathtaking accuracy. Everything looks realistic and every diverse track looks detailed to perfection. With the pant-wetting speed that has been employed it’s also great to see that there isn’t any horizon mist or a hint of pop-up. The surroundings are as clear as crystal and you’ll have no trouble looking for oncoming traffic but whether you get out of the way in time is an entirely different matter, the question is, will you want to?

The lighting effects really deserve a mention and even a medal as they are the best I’ve seen since Gran Turismo and even that didn’t manage to hold such a detailed textural effect on the tarmac as this beauty does. It’s blindingly good to say the least.

Fun Factor

What can I say? This is possibly the most exhilarating and fun game you’ll play this year. It makes the racing in Gran Turismo and Wipeout look plain tedious. It’s perfect just to pick up and play and perfect for multi-player thrills. You’ll go back to it again and again and then curse the phrase "just one more go" for the rest of your life.

Other than the racing the crash mode also offers something different and the great slow motion plays of the chaotic traffic as they collide and smash make for something to behold. If you thought crashing in GTA was good then you aint seen nothing yet. Baby.

Overall

The best PS2 game I have played this year and the best racer I have ever played. It’s not that much of a drastic improvement over the last instalment so if you already have it, it might not be worth investing in this but I can’t stress enough, if you don’t, then buy this game!

The only things that would make this game better would be more cars, greater customisation, more tracks and more to do. It seems like a lot but when you’re playing you really won’t think about the holes in the game. Just imagine if these cars were taken from real life and included real manufacturers. Unfortunately it’s never going to happen but I can dream, in-between races of course.