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reviews >> playstation 2

written by Shaun McCracken

Game Information
Publisher: Acclaim
Developer: Criterion Studios
Year Released: 2001
Players: 1-2
ESRB Rating: Everyone

Visuals 8
It's a pretty good looking racer, and somewhat reminds me of Ridge Racer V without as much aliasing. The car models could have been better, though.
Audio 8.5
The music is okay, but the crash effects is where it's at.
Gameplay 8.75
It's a fairly simple and easy to grasp arcade racer that uses wreckless driving is it's draw. The controls aren't as tight as they should be due to the slight looseness of the PS2 analog stick.
Replay Value 8
I wish there were more courses, because Burnout is a fun game to play. Not very heavy on the gameplay modes, either. Survival is a challenge, though.
Reviewer's Impression 8.75
Despite the fact that this game isn't very long, I still played the hell out of it, and did turn me on to the series, which is getting better with each installment. It's also nice to see a pure arcade racing game make it's way back onto the scene.
Overall 8.25
I got to this game a little too late, because Burnout 2 was pretty much primed for release, and it IS a better game in every other aspect. As far as it compares to other racers, it's not as deep as say Gran Turismo 3, but is a little more varied than Ridge Racer V.

Perhaps this game would have been better suited with the title "Smashing Drive", but Burnout is fine. The reason I said that is because Burnout has some of the most realistic, and fairly graphic crashes ever seen in a video game (until the point Burnout 2: Point of Impact came out). While this is certianly the draw or the hook of the game, the developers slightly downplay the crashing. It's basic arcade racing with the encouragement of wreckless driving. If you can drive dangerously successfully, you can earn a boost for even more unlawful fun. But Criterion Studios never took full advantage of the crashes. It's just there. It wasn't until the sequel that crashing became a little more integral.

But the crashes are one to behold. While it doesn't have as much particle effects as the sequel, the original does plenty. Some crashes are rather lame like a small fender bender or a scrape on the wall. But then there's the moments when your car files and flips smacking into the oncoming traffic. And there is some car damage and deformation, but doesn't last. Right after you crash, your car looks new. Hmmm.

Graphically, Burnout is relatively nice looking, for a PS2 game. Not exactally GT3, but a little better than Ridge Racer V. It's nice to see a system such as the PS2 to pull off as many dynamic effects such as particles, considering it's underpowered compared to the GCN or XBox. The game moves at a fairly smooth 60FPS, and that's fine for an arcade racer. Not as clean as the GCN or XBox version, but it holds up okay.

The audio portion is great. The music is standard techno, but the best part is the crashing sounds. It sounds very realistic and loud (thanks to Dolby Surround). Turn off the msuic and turn up the game loud to experience some great crashes.

The gameplay is fairly limited, especially when you compare Burnout to other racers such as Gran Turismo 3 or the Need For Speed series. The main portion of the game is the championship mode, which is tough to get into if you tend not to avoid the traffic. For some reason, a game designed with special crash physics doesn't ecourage crashing, even though it's inevitable. Strange. There's the single race mode, which is fun anytime you want to play a quick game, and the time trial is much like the single race, but without the competiton. One of the more challenging modes is the Survival mode that opens up after completing the game. You have to finish any course whithout crashing, and it's no easy task. I have yet to complete one course in Survival mode. This increases replay value some, but there needed to be more.

Burnout's biggest letdown is in the replay value. There's only about 6 actual courses with variations, and not too many modes of gameplay which I mentioned above. It's still fun to pick up, play and crash. But the PS2 is home to some racers that has a lot more depth, such as GT3, Need For Speed Hot Pursuit 2, Pro Race Driver and others. It's nice arcade fun, but currently, go for the sequel. It has more options and modes.