Review: Burnout 2: Point of Impact
Posted 25 May 2003 at 18:09 by Dan
The GameCube this far in its short life has been lacking…well maybe that is an understatement, but in any fashion one can say that the GameCube needs a few good racing games. I don't think much of anyone will disagree with me there; it might be the genre Nintendo's little purple machine is lacking most, but fear not! Developer Criterion and producer Acclaim have finally brought to us a worthwhile racing game. Burnout 2L Point of Impact is its name, and crashing is its name. "Well who cares…Burnout wasn't that great" some might say. Well let me tell you ye of little faith, Criterion has done it right this time, and finally a game for all those racing enthusiasts out there has come to lift your spirits.
Criterion has improved upon basically every aspect that the original Burnout tried to create. This time around, it is polished, impressive, and insanely addictive. These things and more have been done to the original formula, some things tweaked, others completely added, and all of which have made Burnout 2 a game that all gamers should enjoy.
Like stated before, everything has been improved, and that statement most certainly includes graphics. Let me tell you here and now, this game is pretty. Criterion has ported this game as they did with Burnout 1, but this time they did it right. With updated graphics from the PS2 version, environments: countryside, city, mountains, and the many others stretch out before for what seems like miles, and it actually is. The drawing distance is amazing, but what is more amazing than that is that the game play never slows down, it stays crisp and fast, even with all the traffic around you. And yes, there is a lot of traffic, which means lots of things happening, but the frame rate never dips, and you are promised a clean ride. Each and every vehicle have high polygon counts, and while I have seen better, this game is certainly good enough. All of the different cars you can pick from look quite amazing and so do each vehicle on the road. Tree, mountains, buildings, and anything else you might come across look almost real and you will feel engrossed in the game. New crashing graphics have been added sense burnout 1, and now they look very realistic, and more have been added.
Burnout 2 has a surprising enjoyable soundtrack that doesn't take away from the game experience. But importantly, it doesn't annoy you to the point of insanity. The songs that play throughout each level are a mix between techno and rock. As you go into burnout mode the music becomes more intense, with heavier guitar riffs and bass lines. Then, of course, there is the sounds effect…and well they are sounds of cars, and they serve their purpose; to make you feel like you are truly driving your car. Crashing also sounds pretty realistic. Realistic engine noises and the sounds of cars flying by pull you into the game like it should. Not only all of this, but it is supported by Dolby Pro Logic II. However, most of the cars engines sound the same, aside from the two different shifter noises.
Criterion has taken their original recipe for arcade racing goodness, and has added some new spices. Let me tell you here, this game is more arcade than realism, and if you don't like that for some reason you may be disappointed. However, I think almost all racing fans will be pleased with the fast paced game play this game presents. You drive you car at a blistering rate down crowded city streets, and country back roads. What makes Burnout the game it is, are all the cars that you must avoid along the way. The major fun in the game is filling up your burnout meter and boosting up to breakneck speeds while swerving around cars all the way.
There are a few possibilities to fill up your burnout meter, and all are risky and fun. For one, you can pass by dangerously close to cars to start up a combo. The more cars you pass by without touching them in succession, the faster your burnout meter goes up. Or you can drive on the wrong side of the road, which is especially dangerous, but immensely fun. Also, you can try your luck at drifting around turns. It is basically like fishtailing and can prove troublesome if you swerve around to find a car blocking your path. Finally, you can take your car into the skies and earn some burnout meter points by flying off bumps in the road.
Once you have your burnout meter filled, it will flash red and you can press, and hold down the R trigger to blast off into dangerously high speeds. You can even retain your burnout by continuing to perform the aforementioned maneuvers. As you fly along, the music pounds, and cars whip by at insane speeds. It makes for a very fun time.
I think I should mention here a few problems that plague this game. There aren't many, but I have found that as I drive along there are sometimes a few problems with collision. Usually it happens when you are driving along very fast and smash into the back of a car. You would think that you would just smash into it and fly some where on the track. Theoretically that should happen, but it doesn't also work that way. Criterion hasn't worked out all the bugs, and sometimes you just stick to the back of the vehicle, and your speed is drastically reduced. You don't crash, you just stick to it, and go down to the speed the other car was going. This doesn't happen always, and it isn't a big problem. There are also things in the game that cause weird collisions that aren't supposed to be like that, but I am sure they will be fixed by Burnout 3.
Another thing that I saw happed once was that I kept falling through the track into nothingness, and would just pop back onto the track. It was strange, but only happened once.
This game sports more modes that its predecessor, and gives you hours upon hours of fun. First there is the training mode that teaches you all about getting burnouts and using them. Then there is the season mode where you go through tournaments and unlock cars and new tracks along the way. Each tournament consists of a number of races at different courses. You have to try to get a gold medal to unlock the next tournaments. You also must get gold medals in each of the races in the tournament to unlock the hidden vehicles that you may use. There is a new added mode that wasn't in the original. It is called pursuit. You play the part of a police man and you try to ram another vehicle off the road. You must hit him, and each time you do, his health bar goes down. If you can wipe him out in the amount of time you have (you have a specific amount of miles before he gets away) you unlock the car you are trying to pursue. That's basically all there is to the one player mode, which leaves a little to be desired, but it is still quite enjoyable. The main thing I think is missing is the ability to upgrade your car as you win, and hopefully it will be in the next outing.
There is also a time attack, where you can race on the tracks you have unlocked, and try to get the best times. Pretty straight forward and I never really played this mode. Then there is of course the multiplayer mode where up to 2 players (sadly not 4) can race head to head to see who the best is truly.
Finally, there is the new crash mode where players take their cars up to high speeds and crash into intersections to see how much damage they can cause. It is all added up at the end, and you try to receive gold medals to unlock new crash courses. This mode is strangely fun and addictive, and is a very welcomed addition to the game.
This game is easy to play, yet hard to master. You can go through the training course quickly and get right into the game. However as you progress so do your opponents and so you are forced to become better, and you will. The controls are amazingly intuitive and work perfectly with the GameCube controller. Criterion has done a superb job with coming up with simple, yet effective controls. It is very responsive, and flying around cars even at the breakneck speeds is simple yet rewarding. I am completely satisfied with this category, and for the next game I hope the controls are left well alone.
You can play this game for hours, and then get some friends over and play for a few more. It takes quite a while for this game to get old with all the things to unlock and the gold medals to receive. You will find yourself playing Crash for hours just to receive a few gold medals. Then you will go play the one player mode to unlock that last elusive car. This game will provide hours upon hours of enjoyment, be it by yourself or with others. That is the bottom line.
I am a pretty big fan of racing games, and the drought of them on GameCube have made me quite discouraged, and when I played Burnout 1 I was a little disappointed. But this time around Criterion has done it right. No shabby port from the PS2, this version actually contains more than the PS2 version. All racing fans, do yourself and favor and pick this game up, you won't be disappointed.
N-Europe Final Verdict
Best racing game on the GameCube thus far.
No 4 player racing