Burnout Dominator Hands-On

We take a work-in-progress version of Criterion's upcoming racer for a test-drive.

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Earlier this week, during a visit to Electronic Arts' Redwood Shores headquarters, we had an opportunity to check out the PlayStation 2 version of Burnout Dominator for the first time. Also in development for the PlayStation Portable, Dominator is a return to the Burnout series' roots rather than a true sequel to Revenge. While it retains a number of the gameplay modes and features that made previous Burnout offerings great, Dominator will do away with the recent "traffic-checking" innovation and won't feature a crash mode of any kind. What you'll be left with, then, is a Burnout game that's every bit as raw and intense as the first few games in the series were, but which benefits from improved visuals and technology.

Previously discarded gameplay features making a welcome return in Burnout Dominator will include burnouts (exhausting a full turbo boost meter in one go), and the need to avoid rather than very deliberately slam into traffic. Trying to do either one of these things makes doing the other much more difficult, resulting in a game that--even before you take your rivals and other very aggressive opponents into account--is much more demanding than its crash-happy predecessor. Furthermore, an all-new maniac mode will task you with stringing together multiple burnouts to form combos, which, as we can tell you from experience, is every bit as difficult as it sounds. Other gameplay modes confirmed for Burnout Dominator at this time include road rage, burning lap, race, eliminator, and drift and boost challenges.

If you've ever played a Burnout game before you'll have no problems coming to grips with Dominator. The handling of the vehicles is as forgiving as ever, the street circuits all have plenty of shortcuts for anyone brave enough to take them, and the sensation of speed verges on frightening. During our limited time with the game the frame rate was never anything but silky smooth, even when we raced against another player in split-screen mode.

Burnout Dominator is currently scheduled for release in March. We look forward to bringing you more information on the game as soon as it becomes available.

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