Reviewed: August 11, 2002
Reviewed by: Scott Shirhall


Criterion Games

Released: April 30, 2002
Genre: Racing
Players: 2
ESRB: Everyone


Supported Features

  • Analog Control
  • Vibration
  • Wheel
  • Memory Card
  • Progressive Scan Compatible

  • Another racing game has made its way into my collection. The game is Burnout from Acclaim. I have long been a fan of racing games and Acclaim has used Burnout to expand on the genre. Burnout is unlike any racing game Iíve seen.

    Though I enjoy being able to modify cars and settings it is also fun to just jump in and play without having to mess around fine-tuning my car. Burnout is definitely a game for all racing game fans and is very reminiscent of many of the arcade racing games. The premise of Burnout is very simple Ė drive as fast as you can and make your checkpoints in time. Thatís it; there is nothing else to know. There is no elaborate background or storyline. It is just a simple racing game.

    Acclaim released Burnout last fall for the PS2 and has now released it for both the Gamecube and the Xbox, but they made some changes to the original that are exclusive to the two new consoles. Here is a list of the improvements made for the Gamecube version:

    • Progressive Scan Mode: Couple your Digital TV to the Nintendo Component Video Cable and Burnout will display an extremely crisp, clear image running in 480p. You haven't seen anything until you've played Burnout on a Digital TV (NTSC version only)!
    • Improved lighting: All courses have been completely relit, making the game look much more realistic. Place the Nintendo GameCube(tm) version side by side with the last version of Burnout and you'll see a big difference.
    • Anti-aliasing: Provides a much smoother and stable image that looks more realistic than ever.
    • Tri-linear filtering: Another improvement that makes all textures smoother and reduces flickering.
    • Improved physics and handling: The vehicles feel more responsive and exciting, with tweaks designed especially for the Nintendo controller.
    • Improved deformation model: All the vehicles, including traffic cars crush and crumple realistically, making the crashes look more real.
    • Improved special effects: Motion blur, particles, lighting and more.
    • Nintendo "Wavebird" support: Our game supports the new wireless controller coming soon from Nintendo.
    If you are a fan of racing games you will enjoy Burnout. It isnít the greatest racing game ever made, but it is the most different and the most fun.

    This game is very simple and straightforward. You will not find any fancy videos, movies or music in this title. When you start up the game you are taken to a very simple menu with options like Championship (this option allows you to compete in series races and unlock other courses and features), Single Race (race any unlocked course once), Head to Head (race against a friend with a split screen), Time Attack (race any unlocked course to get the best time), Face Off Mode (race against a ďhiddenĒ computer opponent to win the race and unlock that car) and Survival Mode (race any available course, but crash and it is over).

    The Gamecube version of Burnout offers these exclusive features:

    • There's only one way to drive in Burnout: DANGEROUSLY. Force traffic into your opponent's path and risk a head-on collision to secure a win!
    • Slide, cut close and drive into oncoming traffic and you'll be rewarded for your risk-taking.
    • Crashes are based on actual crash and damage physics for the ultimate in stunning realism.
    • Instant replays allow you to relive your handiwork from multiple angles, in all of its cringe-inducing, metal bashing glory.
    • Incredibly advanced traffic AI: civilians try to avoid and warn you while opponents try to slam you off the road!
    • Cruise the United States and Europe on 14 awesome, traffic-filled courses, through cities and into the countryside.
    • Over 300 vehicles fill the streets and highways making reckless racing and wild demolition a certainty.
    • Dolby Surround sound brings the roar of screeching tires and twisting metal to life.
    • Analog controller compatible, so you can feel every turn, skid and crash.
    All of these promises sound incredible and are all delivered in the game. Driving dangerously is the only way to drive in this game. The closer you get to vehicles you are passing, the longer you drive on the wrong side of the road and how far you can power slide around a corner determines both your score and your ability to use your boost. If you drive cautiously you will not experience all that this game has to offer.

    The car selection on the game is lacking a little and all cars are generic. With choices like compact, muscle car and pickup truck you are sure to find a vehicle that you love. Even though the cars are generic, and not licensed from any manufacturer, you can see some resemblance to regular production automobiles.

    The steering in this game is incredibly responsive and because of this you will find that with a little behind the wheel time you will soon be zipping in and out of traffic like a madman. There is a very short learning curve to master you vehicle controls because all you have to remember is gas, brake, steer and boost. Making the controls simple adds immensely to the enjoyment level of this game. You will not need to read a 700-page manual to start playing and enjoying this game.

    The controls are not only easy to use they provide excellent feedback. The vibration of the controller is perfectly synchronized with the action. You can feel all of the bumps and bangs that occur throughout the game including the bone-jarring collisions and accidents.

    The accidents, along with the fantastic AI of the traffic, are the heart and soul of Burnout. As you are racing at top speed you must deal with the amazing collection of vehicles that make up the traffic of each course. The traffic in this game actually acts like real traffic. Motorists will swerve to avoid you as you are speeding towards them. This is probably the best facet of the game and makes for some exciting gameplay. When you are approaching an intersection you may need to swerve around the stopped traffic only to ram straight into a car that is crossing from the other direction. When you come up on a slower moving vehicle a quick blast of your horn will sometimes clear the way for you.

    The AI of the computer-controlled opponents is also very impressive. These competing cars will bump you, try to force you off the road or cause you to have an accident. These guys are like a swarm of killer bees. Their sole purpose is to destroy you so they can win the race. With all of the obstacles and tenacious opponents you get to the best part of the game, the accidents.

    The accidents in Burnout are, in a word, incredible. When you strike another vehicle the physics of the game are so lifelike you will think youíre watching an actual collision. The damage is different depending on the type of accident and you are shown on the screen what your little mishap would cost. The damage, while very good, could use a little tweaking in the next version. I would love to see more parts scattered on the roadway after a crash. The dents and glass exploding out of the cars after a wreck is superb and amazingly realistic. When you have an accident during a race you are treated to an instant replay of the collision from several camera angles before you are started on your way again.

    The last feature of the game to discuss is the actual racecourses. The courses are beautifully designed and a lot of fun to drive. My personal favorite courses are all set in Europe. It is a rush when you are screaming down cobblestone-paved alleys in the beautifully done European courses. The architecture and lighting make these courses a pure joy to drive.

    All of the course are impressive and have their special touches that make each one unique. I look forward to the day when I unlock all of the courses and enjoy the fruits of Acclaim and Criterionís labor.

    The graphics in Burnout are very good. They arenít the best Iíve ever seen in a racing game but they are close. There are some small improvements to be made in the wreck sequences that are already really good. The skid marks, breaking glass and damage are all impressive. When viewing the replays you can change angles or freeze the action to really get a great sense of how much work went into these crashes. While the aftermath of a collision is incredibly detailed I still would love for Acclaim to up the carnage. I would love to see parts flying like in the Reflections games for the PS2.

    Probably the most pleasing aspect of the game is in the details. The lighting, anti-aliasing and tri-linear filtering all seamlessly combine to form a visually stunning racing game. The lights and shadows are fantastic and the reflections help add realism to the whole game. The detailed buildings, streets and traffic are all exquisitely done and near perfect.

    Overall the graphics are great and should please any fan of the racing genre. I really canít wait to see how things look in the future release of Burnout 2.

    The sounds used in Burnout are very good. There is nothing like listening to the most realistic accident sounds ever done. From the squealing tires, breaking glass and crumpling metal I had to look out my window to make sure there wasnít an accident in front of my house.

    Playing the game through my sound system creates an atmosphere of chaos. The sounds of bustling streets, honking horns and squealing tires force you into the game and sometimes have you looking over your shoulder.

    Where the games sounds lack are in the music department. I find it difficult to even remember any of the music playing in the background. It is all very forgettable. I need some hard driving beats to pick up my pulse while I am racing through hordes of congestion ridden city streets and I donít have them. Maybe they will put some good tunes in the next one.

    Burnout is loaded with levels, action and variety to give you a great overall value for your buck. With the Championship races, Face Off Mode, Survival Mode and Attack mode there is plenty to keep you busy.

    If you love a good racing game then Burnout will provide you with hours of replay potential. As you progress through the different modes you will get into races that take a long time to complete and you will find yourself constantly trying to beat your competition.

    The two player mode is a riot and will provide you and your friends with constant hours of battling action. With all of the varied features and things to unlock you will find yourself playing this game again and again.

    Burnout is a truly unique racing experience and should not be missed by racing genre aficionados. The excellent graphics and spectacular settings make Burnout a truly enjoyable gaming experience.

    The crashes, lighting and sound will leave a lasting impression with anyone that loves a good racing game and the arcade styling and ease of play make Burnout an excellent addition to anyoneís library.

    If you buy only one racing game for your Gamecube you must give serious consideration to this gem.