Electronic Arts and Criterion Games have today confirmed that an Xbox 360 version of Burnout Revenge is currently in development and scheduled for release in March next year. That the long-rumored-to-exist game will feature improved visuals is a given, but Criterion Games has many more improvements in store for Xbox 360 owners as well, as executive producer Matt Webster explains.
GameSpot: The Xbox 360 version of Burnout Revenge is going to be more than just a prettier version of the Xbox game, right? Any new content?
Matt Webster: Absolutely. When looking at the 360 version of our game, we wanted to make it the showcase version, the pinnacle of Revenge on any console. With every Burnout game, we look at the areas that are most important to us and what we are able to do on the hardware that we are creating the game on. For the 360, it was clear that Microsoft was gearing the machine at the connected generation. It feels like you are not getting all that the machine has to offer if you aren't connected to the Net, so we made this our focus with our Live Revenge and Save & Share features.
We've spent an awful amount of time looking at games online and how they are played. They all seem to stick to the same basic premise: connect to a server, find some people, play the game, come back to a lobby. We really wanted to change this, to take it further, and that's what we are doing with Live Revenge.
Gamers come together in the lobby and then we do something brand new. We look at how these players connect with each other in a real sense, and then we highlight these relationships to all players. So, six players come together, we look to see who has played whom before. Perhaps you have taken me down in a previous game, perhaps I am the highest-ranked player, or maybe we haven't played each other before. Whatever the case, when the game starts, we fly the camera around each of the racers in the game, and then every player gets a rival relationship called out.
If you have taken me out in a previous game, it tells me that you are a Revenge Rival, and tells me what the score is between us. Simultaneously the game is telling you that I am coming after you, and that you are ahead in takedowns. If I am the player with the highest rank, the game will show me to everyone, calling me out and giving everyone a focus, a target to takedown. It's all about long memories and short tempers! These relationships are persistent--we track them, we look at how they change, and we tell the player. Perhaps I haven't been online for a while, so if we get into the same game, we'll highlight this fact to both you and me, telling us that there is a vendetta between us.
It's about building relationships, giving the player a focus, and then tracking how these relationships change. Maybe you're owning me, you are 10 takedowns ahead, so the game tells you. But, there's a twist, we took a look at how sports fans talk to each other. The 49ers have won the last nine games straight at home against the Cardinals--they're up, they're winning, they can boast about their record. However, as soon as the Cardinals win a game at Monster Park, that's all that matters--the scores are settled, the boasting stops, and the intensity goes up a notch. That's what we are achieving with Revenge online. You're ahead by 10, but when I take you down, the scores are settled, and it starts again!
We feel that we are making a real change to how games are played and sustained online. Persistently tracking the relationships between everyone who plays Burnout online makes the game more powerful and gives all gamers a focus. In every game that you play, there will be something going on, and that's before the real action has even started!
Save & Share
The other main element that we are talking about is called Save & Share. Replays have always been the most requested features from Burnout fans. We kind of tried to do it on Burnout 1, but now with the power that we have at our disposal, we can do it in the way that we always imagined. Burnout is always an amazing game to watch--we have the best action! We always have these times when you say "Did you see that?" With Revenge on 360, you can show people. Now, when you finish a World Tour event, you will be shown a replay of the action. That's nothing new you may think?! Well we're giving the player the ability to make a highlight of the best bit of action. You hit the record button and save a section of this replay to the HDD or memory unit. Cool! The real innovation here is that you can select the share option. The replay will be uploaded to your own section of the server where other gamers can share it. They'll be able to download and rate your action. We're going to keep track of the top 20 most downloaded highlight reels and we'll publicize these in the game. So, that amazing crash you did, or the high score on a crash junction? Upload it and share it with the world!
GS: How many players will the game support online, and will 360 players be able to interact with Xbox players in any way?
MW: The game supports six players online, and unfortunately 360 players won't be able to compete with Xbox players due to the new online features that we've implemented.
GS: Are there any features being implemented that simply wouldn't be possible on any console other than the Xbox 360 at this point?
MW: Live Revenge and Save & Share were features that we were unable to execute on for current-generation games. In addition, the way that we are damaging and deforming the cars and how we accentuate these with effects were not achievable on PS2 or Xbox. For example, we're using a per-pixel vector motion blur on 360. This just isn't possible on PS2 or Xbox. GS: Vehicle damage has always been a prominent feature of the Burnout games. Presumably the carnage will be even more spectacular on Xbox 360?
MW: We're using a multitude of shaders to give us crumples and scratches in addition to physical deformation that has moved on a level from previous Burnout games. Applying particles and special effects on to the car damage and coupled with what we can do with audio will mean that crashes in Revenge 360 will be like nothing you've experienced! GS: The Xbox 360's achievement points system looks to be taking off in a big way. Any idea how you'll be awarding them in Burnout Revenge 360? How do you make decisions like that?
MW: We think they're great, so we have achievements throughout the game, both offline and online. We want to use these to reward all skill levels.
GS: What do you think the main incentives will be for owners of PS2 or Xbox versions of Burnout Revenge to upgrade to the 360 version when it comes out?
MW: I think that a lot of people have concentrated on the visual enhancements that 360 gets you. We've concentrated on new features that take Revenge further than it's been before to give a game that you couldn't get on Xbox or PS2.
GS: Finally, any idea when we can expect to see Burnout Revenge 360 on shelves?
MW: March 2006.
GS: Thanks for your time.