A Few Comments on Burnout Revenge

February 9th, 2013

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Back in 2007, I sunk 42 hours into Burnout Revenge. I’ve always had a fondness for arcade-style racing games like Daytona USA and Crazy Taxi, and Burnout Revenge was the first arcade racer I’d played with a meaty campaign that I could really sink my teeth into. When I returned home for Christmas in 2011, I took Burnout Revenge for a spin. Here are a few of the things I noticed:

  1. The player isn’t heavily penalised for hitting walls. They can actually skirt barriers to minimise the loss of speed.
  2. The player’s car can hit small vehicles from behind to send them flying (which earns them boost). Big vehicles, though, lead to rear-end collisions, while the player can only knock other racers.
  3. It’s difficulty to crash a landing.
  4. The wind marks as the player’s driving create the sensation of speed without speeding up the gameplay.

Feels good to be back in the writing loop. Anyone have any experience with this game or the series as a whole?

  • AJ Johnson

    I thoroughly enjoy the Burnout games, but I was a bit disappointed when they started to go on the Takedown route.  Burnout 1 was a simple racing game (with great physics), while Burnout 2 added the wonderful mechanic where you earn boost by driving against traffic, near-misses, etc.  It also had a fantastic sense of speed.

    Burnout 3 and Burnout Revenge are much more focused on destroying other cars (still with great physics and a great sensation of speed), which I felt detracted from the simple joys of racing and boost charging in Burnout 2.  I do like wrecking other cars, but not as a primary gameplay goal.

    Burnout Paradise — easily the best game in the series — fixes all of this by offering a variety of events, from simple racing to stunt-based scoring to traditional takedown events.  It allows players to explore an open world select their favorite types of race modes, while experimenting with the other stuff and still making overall progress in the game.

  • First of all, it’s nice to see a game like this receiving coverage all these years after its release.

    Secondly, it’s worth mentioning that the ability to collide with civilian cars heading in the same direction as you was introduced in Burnout Revenge and was the prominent difference and reason to play from its predecessor, Burnout 3: Takedown. Not sure if you were aware of that or not Daniel as I am unfamiliar with your history with the franchise, but I figured it’d be worth pointing out anyway so if anyone was unaware, they would come to understand the subtle — but significant — distinction.

    Thirdly, AJ, I can totally understand your points about the various entries in the series but at the same time, I believe that’s what makes Burnout — and, by extension, Criterion — so special: it’s the very fact that Burnout hasn’t settled into one given identity that makes it such an intriguing series to observe, and obviously a fantastic one to play. If and when the franchise makes its return, I seriously hope we see Criterion reinvent everything again despite just how incredible Burnout Paradise was. No other racing franchise really changes its core formula every so often.

  • AJ Johnson

    Now that Criterion is owned by EA, they will most likely be generating regular “safe” releases of the Burnout and Need for Speed series.  Though I’d like to see the studio continue to innovate, that doesn’t seem like a real possibility given EA’s history.

  • Hey guys, so just to clarity: Burnout 3 introduced takedowns and Burnout Revenge introduced head-on crashes (that result in a temporary restart at the last checkpoint), right? I played the original Burnout when the GameCube first launched, and I agree with AJ that the handling and physics are super slick. Certainly has it’s own vibe. So, I’m curious then, what makes Burnout 3 better than Revenge? 

  • Daniel, Burnout 3:Takedown introduced takedowns and was the first game (the second being Paradise) to represent a re-imagined take on the franchise. Burnout Revenge was the ‘sequel’, and shifted its focus onto that ability to ram civilian cars traveling in the same direction as you without penalty (but, obviously, crash with a vehicle head-on (oncoming) and you will be stopped dead in your tracks). If memory serves me correctly, that was called “traffic-checking” but I could be wrong so forgive me if I am.

    But yeah, my point was that it was worth mentioning that there is a clear distinction between Takedown and Revenge, because of that ‘traffic-checking’ (or whatever) ability.

    As for which game is better, well my personal favourite in the franchise is Burnout 2: Point Of Impact (speaking of which, I also played 1 & 2 on the GameCube) but it is my view that each installment in the series thus far has been valuable and worth engaging on its own merit, rather than trying to rank them in some subjective order.

  •  AJ, while I share your reservations about EA’s influence on Criterion’s games going forward, I also am inclined to disagree. The studio has continued to innovate since their acquisition, it’s just not as immediately obvious as the radical changes (and refinement) on display with the two reboots the Burnout series has had (Takedown and Paradise). Their Autolog technology first introduced in Need For Speed: Hot Pursuit and then refined with last year’s NFS: Most Wanted was very innovative, just perhaps not on the gameplay side of the equation.

    For all we know, EA’s intentions could be just to get Criterion to make NFS titles every couple of years (alternating with other studios) because that series is, obviously, EA’s main racing franchise and it would continually benefit them to have a studio like Criterion contributing to it. However, now they have offered their interpretations on Hot Pursuit and Most Wanted, as well as the fact that we’re transitioning into the next generation of consoles, I’m optimistic that we will be seeing a return of the Burnout series in the not too distant future. Whether it’s yet another radical reboot or just an extension of what was done with Paradise remains to be seen, but I seriously doubt EA would ignore the opportunity to capitalise (even if just a little) on the success and acclaim that the Burnout franchise has.

    It’s easy to be skeptical when EA (or most publishers, really) are involved, but so far their influence hasn’t been that bad and for now I am willing to give them the benefit of the doubt if and when Burnout makes its return.

  • Cool, thanks for clearing all that up, Steven.

  • AJ Johnson

    I sincerely hope you are right.  There may not be much to worry about as long as they keep up with the successful releases and EA continues a “hands-off” approach.  However, I worry about what might happen the first time they miss a projected sales target, particularly if they miss it while introducing innovative new gameplay.