Burnout Revenge E3 2005 Hands-On

We meet with Criterion to check out the latest playable demo of Burnout Revenge on both PS2 and Xbox.

Earlier today, during a visit to Electronic Arts' E3 booth, we had an opportunity to test-drive PlayStation 2 and Xbox demos of Burnout Revenge. The demo included a lot of features that we hadn't been able to try out before, including Tokyo and Rome circuits, the all-new traffic attack mode, and the completely reworked crash mode.

The first feature that we tried was a regular race through the streets of Detroit, which felt very different from those in previous Burnout games. One of the main reasons that the races feel so different in Burnout Revenge is that you don't have to worry about avoiding traffic as much. Head-on collisions and crashes involving large vehicles such as trucks can still wreck your car for a few seconds, but for the most part you'll be able to plough through traffic like a bullet. And, if you're lucky, you'll cause enough carnage to make trouble for any opponents that are closing in behind you.

Another aspect of Burnout Revenge that we were really impressed by during our race (and all of our subsequent events, actually) was the nature of the course designs. The roads you'll be racing on are set in realistic city environments and offer a seemingly unlimited number of alternate routes for you to take on your way to the finish line. The routes aren't actually, unlimited, of course, but the courses are designed in such a way that if you think you've done something horribly wrong and are about to crash into a wall, you'll invariably plough right through it and find yourself back on the main route with your rivals moments later.

As its title suggests, Burnout Revenge makes a distinction between opponents and rivals, the latter being any driver who is looking for revenge after you take him out. Drivers who are actively looking to run you off the road will have a red arrow above their vehicle when you see them, while other drivers will have a green one. As a result of this new feature, we found that we were getting involved in even more spectacular crashes in Burnout Revenge than we did in Burnout 3: Takedown. You'll even score bonus points for taking out rivals who have messed with you earlier in the race. Other new features that we noticed during our race included the ability to use crashbreaker explosions whenever we crashed during a race, as well as being able to rotate the camera after a crash so that we could time our crashbreakers to hit any opponents unlucky enough to be nearby.

After finishing our race through Detroit, we decided to check out Burnout Revenge's all-new traffic attack mode on the streets of Rome--an environment being shown for the first time at E3. Your goal in traffic attack is much the same as it is in crash mode: to cause as much damage as possible. Traffic attack plays like an arcade racer, in that you can keep driving for as long as you're managing to hit checkpoints. The main difference between traffic attack and most arcade racers, however, is that there are no checkpoints--just other vehicles to smash into. When you successfully damage (or completely destroy, as the case may be) another vehicle, you'll add seconds to your clock and add dollars to your score. Gold, silver, and bronze medals will be awarded according to your earnings, and at the end of each race your cash will be converted into revenge points, which are what unlocks new content every time you hit a new level.

Since our natural reaction was to try to avoid traffic, the traffic attack mode definitely took a little getting used to. It didn't take us long to get into the spirit of things, though, and we found the carnage we were encouraged to cause incredibly satisfying. One of the best tactics in traffic attack, it would seem, is to ram vehicles on crowded streets from behind so that they get pushed forward and plough into the traffic ahead of them.

The last gameplay mode that we checked out during our time with Burnout Revenge was crash, which surprised us with just how much it has changed (for the better) since Burnout 3. In order to explain the new crash mode to us, the Criterion representative we met with compared it with a game of golf. There's a golf game-style swing-o-meter that you'll use to get the perfect start off the line. The fairway is the stretch of road immediately in front of you, the hazards are the traffic that you want to avoid at first, and the green is the sweet spot where a crash has the potential to do the most damage. Also, taking the golf analogy one step further than Criterion, each of Burnout Revenge's 108 crash courses will also feature a hole in the form of a moving target car that's worth huge points if you manage to destroy it. When your car (or ball) is in the air, you'll even notice that there are winds to contend with, and you'll have to use the after-touch controls normally reserved for crashes to try to keep your car on target.

To give you some idea of what a typical crash course is like in Burnout Revenge (although we're not sure that there's any such thing as a typical crash course), we'll explain what we had to go through. The first crash course that we tried out had us weave our way through a lot of traffic, hit a big ramp that sent us up into the air, deal with the crosswind so that we could land safely atop a multistory parking garage, and then hit another ramp that sent us crashing onto a highway down below and, with any luck, on top of the target car driving along it.

There are some other changes being made to Burnout Revenge's crash mode as well, which look like they'll add some longevity and extra challenge. Specifically, the size of your crashbreakers will now be determined by how much boost you accumulate before you crash, and you'll no longer add multipliers to your score by collecting icons. Your score multiplier will now be determined simply by how many vehicles you manage to get involved in your pileup, which gives you the freedom to be more experimental with your crashes and to make the perfect routes (if there even is such a thing now) far less obvious.

Based on the 15 minutes or so that we were able to spend with the game on this occasion, we feel that Burnout Revenge promises to improve upon its predecessor in just about every way imaginable. Which, if you're a fan of Burnout 3: Takedown, you'll know is no mean feat. We'll bring you more information on Burnout Revenge as soon as it becomes available.

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