We got our first proper look at Burnout 360 last month and were intrigued by what the Xbox 360 version of the game promised. Besides having the de rigueur HD support, the game was set to pack some nifty online features as well. We recently got the chance to get an exclusive look at Burnout's online game and get an updated run through its single-player mode to see if the 360 game brings more to the party than just updated visuals.
Before we dive into the online elements of the game, we'll bring you up to speed (pun intended) on the game in general. You'll find four options at the title screen when you first fire up the game: world tour, Xbox Live, Burnout clips, and multiplayer. World tour is essentially an enhanced re-creation of the mode seen in the current-generation versions of Burnout Revenge. The basic structure and progression remain the same; however, you'll find 15 new crash junctions and unlockables. Xbox Live is the game's online mode. Burnout clips is where you can view your saved and downloaded replays--a new feature for the 360 version. You'll be able to view any of the replays you've saved after a particularly stunning run or, if you're feeling brave, upload them for the world to see or send them to a friend. You can also download clips from other players for a reality check. Finally, the multiplayer option will let you compete offline with friends in five race types: road rage, traffic attack, crash battle, crash party, and crash tour.
One aspect of Burnout Revenge we definitely want to call out are the achievements in the game, which stand as some of the best offered by an EA game to date. You'll find a whopping 36 achievements to earn in the game. A good chunk of them revolve around your performance in the game, such as racing perfectly or settling the score with a rival a set number of times. Another batch of achievements revolve around the online game and pose some cool challenges, such as dominating an online lobby by being ahead of five rivals at once, winning 50 races online, or scoring 50 takedowns in an online game. Finally, we were intrigued by some unique achievements that revolve around the replay clip mode; one of the achievements, for example, rewards you for getting a clip in the top 20 downloads.
But enough about all that; let's talk about the online experience. We had the chance to try out a number of different event types with a total of eight racers, the bulk of which were Criterion developers based in the UK. Road rage was the gameplay mode of choice for our first session. The players were split into red and blue teams and were then tasked with preventing the rival team from reaching the finish line. The team trying to reach the finish was given a small head start, while the team in pursuit benefited from unlimited boost, which really made for some action-packed battles. Our road rage matches also afforded us an excellent opportunity to see the Xbox 360 game's new online rivalries in action. Before each race we were told who our main rivals were so that we could attempt to improve our online ranking by getting our revenge on them. This information was also updated on the fly as the races progressed.
The online rivalries associated with our Xbox Live gamertag were even more relevant when we decided to take on the Criterion guys in some regular races, because we were no longer prevented from taking down (or being taken down by) rivals that we'd been placed in a team with. Our primary goal was still to reach the finish line first, of course, but the online rivalries gave the game a different feel because even if a podium position was out of the question, there was still a chance to get the upper hand in an ongoing rivalry by taking down an opponent. What effect the Xbox 360 version of Burnout Revenge will have on friends lists remains to be seen, but we suspect that you'll be sending out plenty of friend invites, not necessarily to players you enjoy chatting with during a race, but simply to those you need to settle a score with--however irritating the online chatter might be. Before our online time with the game came to an end, we checked out the online crash mode, which comes in three distinct flavors. Preferring not to go head-to-head with a developer on a single crash junction in battle mode, we opted for the crash party game, which plays much like the single-player game except that you'll watch your score adding up alongside those of your opponents as the cost of the damage you've caused gets totaled.
As far as presentation goes, Burnout Revenge is shaping up to take good advantage of the 360 hardware in some slick ways. It goes without saying that the game is stunning. It makes use of the Xbox 360's graphical muscle to build on the already wicked visuals seen on the current-generation platforms. The game purrs along at the 60 frames per second that have been its calling card since its debut--which is a welcome sight on the 360--and offers enhanced lighting, subtle weather effects, paint scraping on the cars, and the usual 360 bullet points, such as 720p support, reflective surfaces, and the basic glamour package seen in the better-looking titles for the system. The weakest element in the work-in-progress version we saw were the sparks kicked up as you collide and scrape against opponents. One of our favorite enhancements to the game was the audio, which has undergone more than just the standard 5.1 fluff job many of the current-generation conversions have undergone on the 360. Besides making the expected audio enhancements, Burnout 360 has revamped many of the sound effects you hear while playing. Everything from the chimes you hear as you earn points, to an all-new effect for when you go airborne at high speeds--a dramatic silence along the lines of the effect heard in SSX when performing an insane jump--has been given a once over and changed for the better.
Based on what we played, Burnout 360 looks like it's coming together just in the nick of time. The anemic postlaunch offerings for the 360 have left many hungering for something more, especially on the Live and achievement front, and Burnout 360 looks like it will be riding to the rescue. While a good chunk of the game is a redux of the current-generation Burnout Revenge experience, there's a fair amount of new content and challenge--thanks to Xbox Live and the achievement system--to warrant checking the game out. Given that none of the Burnout games released on Xbox previously are currently backward compatible on the 360, there's a good amount of support for snagging yourself a copy of Burnout Revenge for the 360 when it ships this March.