Readers of Burnout Revenge reviews should fall into one of two very clear categories: those who are buying Burnout Revenge for the first time and those who are pondering an upgrade from their existing PS2 or Xbox versions. Originally released some 6 months ago, the PS2/Xbox Burnout Revenge can be considered, without hesitation, one of the greatest games (racing or other) that each console has ever had. Building upon a landmark title like Burnout 3: Takedown, Revenge not only managed to tweak, fix and cajole enough options to create a better sequel, but added enough new content to make Revenge feel different enough from its predecessor. Those who have never experienced Revenge at all, you owe it to your inner speed junkie to pick up a version, any version. And for those with Xbox 360's, even considering the price difference, it's clear that this is the best version possible. Case closed. To the upgraders still reading, find out why you should update as well.
Fans of the series will feel right at home upon booting up Burnout Revenge as it carries the same feel that the series has maintained through its various consoles outings and publishers. This may be an EA published game (which adds considerable weight and clout to the series) but make no mistake about it; Criterion Games has not let this series out of its grasps. From the opening Burnout screen with its distinct audio presentation, it's impossible not to smile in anticipation, knowing that a fresh Burnout game awaits. And while the series has and will always feature cars on its cover and in its games, this is as much an action title as it is a racing game. Even more so; I have friends who do not, under any circumstances whatsoever, play games; but they will play Burnout. This series not only transcends genres but social expectations as well. It may seem surprising and odd to have to state this, but I've never known anyone who didn't like a little Burnout in their lives. From girlfriends to in-laws, bosses to cousins, everyone who's had a taste always comes back for more.
Burnout Revenge may feel like an easier game to many. While Burnout 3 was completely playable, it did in many circumstances carry a level of frustration with it. The Rival Races in particular spring to mind as particularly "touchy" subjects for me. Well, Revenge eliminates them completely and instead gives you more races, more burning laps (the times are more generous and manageable this time around), more eliminator races, more Grand Prix and more of everyone's favorite: Road Rage. New in Revenge is also the traffic attack mode which has proven to be pure genius. In this mode, you simply hit as much traffic as you can in the hopes of causing a certain amount of damage. The time you have to do this is extended as you take traffic out. This mode alone is worth the price of Revenge, but like last year's road rage events, it feels as though there isn't enough traffic attack in the mix.
The new "mechanic" of the game is the ability to "check" traffic. This simply means that while you should still avoid oncoming traffic you can now freely plow into same-way traffic and send it hurling about. Larger vehicles, however, such as semis and buses, should be avoided! What is the price of all this shunting, slamming and grinding you ask? A small speed degradation. What are the benefits? Well, besides adding to your boost bar, you can now perform Takedowns (taking out other competitors) using traffic. And it's oh so satisfying. In Burnout 3, having a car ahead of you by a few seconds generally meant a losing place. Now, with the rubber-band A.I. not as noticeable and the ability to use traffic to Takedown competitors ahead of you, being in 5th place simply means that there's a whole lot of crashing waiting to happen.
For those with current versions of Revenge, it should be noted that a little bit of tweaking has been added to the 360 version to make the races a little more challenging. Road Rage events feel a little more competitive and cars are generally more aggressive and performing takedowns is a lot more demanding. To cope with this, the game has also added a new camera view that can be controlled with the right thumbstick. As with PGR3, Revenge lets you rotate the camera at will. And while you may have to relinquish the boost button to use the camera, in some modes, it is a vital strategy.
Revenge, with its newly designed tracks that now feature short-cuts galore, ramps, multi-level mayhem and more destructible environments, also allows you to takedown your opponents from above. That's right; you can now take out an opponent by landing on him. The game will even award you a trophy for doing so (although the 360 version doesn't let you skip these cutscenes). You can still use Impact Time (Burnout's Bullet Time mode in which you can still control your car's trajectory after crashing) to hit opponents (Aftertouch) and also the new Crashbreakers let you detonate your car (a la Crash Events from Burnout 3) with the press of a button, taking out anyone in the vicinity (at the price of boost). Talk about hectic! You now have to win the race, take out your opponents, avoid oncoming traffic, avoid flying debris, keep clear of competitors using Aftertouch and avoid slamming head first into pillars, posts, houses, buildings, etc. And all at blistering speeds. Yes, Burnout 3 may have introduced us to the takedown, but it's clearly Revenge that has perfected it.
The other mode that has returned to Revenge, although with a little revamping for better of worse, is the Crash Events. In this mode, first introduced in Burnout 2, you simply pick a car (the heavier, the better) and shoot out into traffic in the hopes of causing as much damage before you crash as possible. Picking your spot for crashing is paramount since the game then allows traffic to follow its intended course and crash into you escalating the damage. While Burnout 2 was really about making it to a busy intersection and crashing, Burnout 3 was really all about nabbing the various multipliers strewed about the level. In fact, if you always aimed to get the 4X multiplier, you were almost always assured a gold medal. That was fine, but once you played online or with friends, it seemed as if everyone knew exactly where to go each time and Crash Mode became a stalemate of sorts. To breath new life into this mode, Burnout 4 removes all multipliers and simply lets you pick your spot. During the level fly-by you'll have to carefully consider traffic placement and flow and plan accordingly. Next, you'll have to still make it to your designated target in one piece (although check traffic still applies). While the regular Revenge also added a "launch bar" which determines your speed and boost at take-off, the 360 version thankfully removes this. This new version also allows you to retry a missed crash attempt a lot quicker than the regular versions. While the launch bar produced some comical results online, it was also quite frustrating. We won't miss it.
The other bright spot of the newly reinvented Crash Events is the camera which you can now control. This helps infinitely as you use Impact Time to steer your wreck to the appropriate location for the Crashbreaker to cause maximum damage. Overall, the crash events in the 360 version seem to have a better flow to them. They feel faster paced (loading, overviews, etc) and more fun. A few new crash events have been added, but this alone is hardly a reason to upgrade. In comparison to Burnout 3, I find the new Crash Events to lead to more competitive battles online and harder fought victories. It's also a nice change to have the option of using a different route once in a while instead of always the one that will net you the 4X.
The other change comes in how Revenge tracks your progression/ranking and distributes new cars. Instead of having a running total of damage caused and aggression points, you now have ratings per events and placement which contribute to a running total of medals which raise your ranking. While all of this may sound confusing, its not in the least and it's actually a very clever way of making Revenge feel varied enough to remain interesting. The stat tracking is also back, but they seem a little "light" this time, not keeping track of as much stuff as in 3 and also not displaying it online for your friends to see. It should also be noted that offline ranking progress/unlockables are kept completely separate from your online rankings and progress. This is a clever way to keep fans playing longer, but also to keep newbies from being blown away by veterans.
Those already familiar with Revenge will notice that while this is still the same game when everything has been said and done, the 360 version has a different feel to it. The visuals have been changed just enough to make the game's menus/progression more pleasing to the eye and give it an overall grittier feel. Menus are also handled better this time around.
It should also be noted, and this may come as a disappointment to many, that the single player events have been removed from Revenge. When playing alone, you now only have access to the World Tour which features close to 200 events (this includes Crash Events and Race Events). This is a little disheartening since I remember spending a great deal of time playing Road Rage using various cars on all the unlocked tracks. World Tour does allow you to still play each mode with various cars, but you'll have to hunt these down.
Everyone remembers that when Burnout 3 was first released, the online portion suffered from a few issues. The game was running on newly established EA servers and for the most part we were just happy to play EA games online. Well, take note; Revenge for the 360 not only fixes Burnout 3's issues, but adds a whole lot of playability that the Xbox version was also lacking. The six months of extra development time weren't just spent re-doing the audio and polishing the graphics, a lot of thought went into the 360's Live modes. At the top of the list, creating rivalries online is a blast and always gives you extra incentive to play "one last match". The other large feature that was added to the online modes is the ability to share 30 second clips from races/crashes. While never mentioned, this also means that it is now possible to view (with varying camera angles and time-controls) your replays and choose which 30 seconds you'd like to keep (and share) for prosperity.
Burnout 3 played very fast and looked really good in the process. Burnout Revenge on Xbox, in glorious 480p, looked just as fast, but the amount of details added made it simply mind-boggling. Now, for the 360 version, the graphics have been overhauled again and while not the best looking racer on the 360, Revenge 360 is certainly the fastest. It also has crisp and clear visuals not only provide more reasons to damage your car, but also help you during races (and with a steady framerate even in the most hectic of circumstances). The 360 version also eliminates all the graphical glitches (jumping into a "white limbo") that plagued the other versions.
In the audio department, Revenge carries a very "Burnout-y" soundtrack that doesn't step too far into foreign territory. Revenge doesn't try to inject too much "style" into its audio presentation like Midnight Club 3 or other car games, but tries to have a loud, aggressive, varied audio presentation that will get your blood pumped and keep it that way. The soundtrack fits, but whether you like it or not is a question of personal taste. In any event, you can create custom soundtracks to suit your needs. It is fascinating to note the amount of unheard of artists that were added six months ago which have since become household names.
One of the greatest additions to the 360 version is the completely revamped audio for the cars. While this may have seemed unnecessary, it is actually hard now to go back to the "regular" car sounds. Now, when you hit boost, you don't simply hear a compressed sound letting go, you hear an F-18 taking off in a small room. The new sound presentation is reason enough to upgrade to the new version.
In the end, those who have never experienced the thrill of Revenge in any form owe it to themselves to try this it out and there is no better way to do so then on the Xbox 360. For existing Revenge owners, the game's new visuals, replay features, online portion, new menu feel, increased difficulty, achievements and incredible audio revamp are reasons enough to buy the greatest version of an already amazing game.