Written By Shaun McCracken

If you're not familiar with the Burnout series (there's only 2 games in the line, people), Burnout is strict arcade racing with an emphasis on dangerous driving and horrendous (and gleeful) car wrecks. In order to win, you must drive on the wrong side of the road, drive along cars (near misses) and drift around corners. The more reckless you drive, the more boost you accumulate in your "Burn Meter", which then increases speed and dangerous driving even further. If you use all the boost without crashing or stopping, you have pulled a "burnout". Yeah, it's not the most aptly named event (before playing the game, I though Burnout referred to the crashes, not the boost), but you get the idea. Point Of Impact ups the ante of dangerous driving even further by extending boost accumulation to jumps (air) and by executing combos. It's easier than it sounds. Try not thinking about it.

If you never played the first Burnout, Burnout 2 may be a better place to start. Before you do anything, you'll go through the short but useful "Offensive Driving 101" tutorial that will teach you everything you need to know about how the game works. It's not long, probably 7-10 minutes, and if you get all gold medals on the challenges (which is much easier than getting golds on GT3's license tests), you'll unlock a pretty useful car. In Burnout 2, almost everything you do does not go without reward.

This time around, you'll be racing in courses that are supposedly designed after US cities. Of course, no real names are used, and when you see their placement on the map, you can't help but to wonder what they were thinking; but when you race on the courses you can tell "Big Surf" and parts of "Hwy 88" are in Los Angeles, "Palm Bay" is modeled after Miami, "Crystal Summit" is like the Rocky Mountains, "Sunrise Valley" is like Phoenix or a New Mexico city and the "Pacific Airport" is a little like LAX. Also, these cities are a little better connected than the ones in the first Burnout, which leads to a few interesting point-to-point races.

Burnout 2 looks fairly similar to the first game, but with a little more "zazz". The textures are a little sharper, the cities are bigger, the courses are better designed, the cars are better detailed and so on. But the biggest upgrade is in the crashes. In the first game, when your car would crash, it's body would deform and the glass would shatter. It was fairly impressive then to see your car fly in a flailing glory with glass particle, but when compared to Point Of Impact, it seems like crap now. It's that improved. Now, not only does your car deform and glass shatters, but pieces of your car such as hoods, fenders, trunk lids, bumpers and tires will fly off depending on how hard you hit something. Plus, the particles are much better. Glass no longer looks like black dots, sparks fly, smoke spews and some random pieces of metal fly in a showpiece of a projectile fury. With each new crash, I kind of chuckle at what flies off my car, as well as the other cars. It's pretty damn amusing, and some look pretty gruesome. When you get into the Crash mode, creating multi-car pileups can be a glorious and devastating sight. Sadly, your crashes can't be saved this time around. I wonder why?

Burnout 2 also comes with a variety game play modes that really shake things up and keep you playing for days to come. The championship mode is broken down to a variety of race modes. There's a typical series, where you race (x) number of courses, there's the face-off matches where you can win new cars, a pursuit mode where you have to take out a rival car, and a couple of point-to-point races. And there's not just one, but two championships! Complete the first championship, and unlock the Custom series, where you race modified street cars. It's shorter, but a thoughtful inclusion. The best part of the game lies in the Crash mode. With 30 crash junctions (15 new ones over the PS2 version), your goal is to come up with the most expensive and devastating car wreck you can make. And it does take some skill, too. It's a challenge trying to meet all gold medals. I spent at least a good hour on one stage trying to get a gold medal. But it's a pretty good payoff to see some mass destruction. Everything is evened off by a single race mode and a time trial mode. Believe me when I say this is one big, meaty arcade racer. This is possibly the best and most addictive arcade racer I've played since San Francisco Rush 2049, and that's saying something.

I delved into the graphic details earlier by mentioning the game's excellent use of particle effects and blazing frame rate and sense of speed. Currently, there really is no other racing game on the GCN that hauls as much ass and throws as much eye-candy as Burnout 2 does. While I would have like to seen some bump-mapping on the road (if there is, I missed it), you'll be traveling at such a high rate of speed, you may not notice. And I would rather have the smooth, fast frame rate with some slightly downgraded effects than have a chop fest with some enhancements. Racing games demand speed, and B2-Point Of Impact does not disappoint. Oh, and it has progressive scan support.

The game's sound is a fairly solid as well. Some say the music is average or annoying, but I actually like it. It suits the game well. It mostly consists of rock-like music, but it's suitable. It's also cool how the music volume changes when you use the boost. The car wreck sounds are loud, but very good. And this all runs in DPL II.

The control is excellent. Tight and forgiving, this is the design many arcade games should follow. And this game is well suited for the GCN controller, which is pretty much what the controller can handle, racing games and platformers. I find it pretty cool that when you click that R-button down, you activate the boost. This version feels much more interactive than the other versions. When you deploy a nitrous boost, by god, you should feel it.

If there is one major thing to complain about, is that the game could have used at least one more city, and seeing how you earn boosts by jumping i air, a San Fransisco-like city would have been very ideal. But, we'll have to wait for a sequel, that is if Acclaim is willing to publish a sequel (or seeing their current state, even being in business). But this is an excellent sequel to an already intense arcade racing package. With 30 courses, 30 crash junctions, and pursuit modes, Burnout 2 is a very solid gaming package. If you've never seen what the series was about, or aching for a new arcade racer, Burnout 2: Point Of Impact is just the ticket.


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One of the best arcade racing games you can get on the system, next to F-Zero GX. It sucks that this is the last Burnout game to hit the Gamecube, though.


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2003-2006 SPM

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