It's better to burn out . . . than to fade away.

User Rating: 9 | Burnout Legends PSP
Burnout Legends is pretty much more of the same when compared to most other Burnout games in the series, and that's not a bad thing!! This time they bring all the mayhem and carnage to the small screen, and the translation is fantastic. The premise of the game is the same as usual, to fully complete this title you must compete in a number of different race and crash events where the onus isn't always just to win a race, but often times to cause as much damage to your competitors as you can along the way! Qualify for a medal in all events in the game and you've won, although it's not a 100% victory until you manage to achieve absolute top marks on each event . . .

When you first start up the game you will be asked to create a game save file. After you complete this task you'll then be taken to the main menu of this title, from which you have four options. The first option is called "World Tour" and is where you will spend 99.9% of your time on this game, it is the main single player mode. After selecting this mode you will be asked which class you want to compete in. There are five classes available including Compact, Muscle, Coupe, Sport and Super. At first only Compact is available and as you complete events in each class you'll eventually unlock the next one.

Once you select the class you want to compete in you will then be taken to the map screen, which shows a bunch of red dots spread out over a map of the world, indicating the location of an event or series of events. There are 75 total race events, divvied up as follows: Compact – 13, Muscle – 13, Coupe – 15, Sport – 18, Super – 16. Not all of them are available right off the bat, you start with just a few available to compete in and as you complete these initial events you'll unlock more of them . . . rinse and repeat. As for the crash events, to get to them you press the O button when on the map screen. All currently available event locations will be indicated on the same type of map screen by more red dots. There are 100 total crash events in the game and they are not class specific, at first only a few are available, you have to unlock the rest as you successfully complete prior crash events. The locations you will find yourself racing and crashing in are numerous and worldwide, and are titled as such: Airport Terminal 1 & 2, Airport Terminal 3, Palm Bay Marina, Silver Lake, Interstate Loop, Winter City, Dockside, Grand Prix, Legend Grand Prix, Big Surf Shores, Downtown, Waterfront, Sunrise Valley Downtown, Vineyard, Harbour Town, Alpine, Island Paradise, Riviera, Golden City and Special Grand Prix.

After selecting the event you'd like to compete in you will then be asked which vehicle you'd like to use. Vehicles are limited to their specific type of class, so for example you can't use the same vehicle in a Muscle class event as you can in a Super class event. Certain types of events assign a default vehicle you must use, but for most events you'll be able to choose from among any available vehicles for the class in question. After choosing your vehicle you are then off to the races, so to speak!

As for the actual events you'll face in this game, there are seven different types of race events you'll need to master. The first event type is called "Race" and is just what it says it is, a straight up 3 lap race against three opponents. You earn a gold medal for finishing first, a silver for finishing second, and a bronze for finishing third. For fourth place you get nothing but a Try Again?

The second type of race event is called "Burning Lap" and is basically a one lap time trial with no opponents to deal with. The medal you earn is based on your finishing time, the faster you are the higher category medal you'll be able to achieve. This is a type of event where you are assigned a default vehicle.

Third we come to the "Pursuit" events. In these you are put behind the wheel of a police vehicle (assigned as a default vehicle) and are tasked with chasing down a single racer, disabling his vehicle by repeatedly smashing him and draining all of his health. Again the medal you earn is based on your time, the faster you disable your opponent the higher class of medal you'll achieve. In my opinion these are the hardest types of events to do well on . . . frustratingly hard!!!

Next up we have the "Road Rage" events, my favourites!! These events are not about lap times or winning, they are all about destruction! You are given a time limit and within that time limit you must perform "takedowns" on as many of your opponent vehicles as possible. A takedown occurs when you are able to ram an opposing vehicle in to something hard enough that they crash fully and are momentarily out of the race. Be careful though because your opponents will be trying to do the same thing to you. Earning medals on these events is based on your total number of takedowns, the higher your total the higher your reward.

"Face-Off" is the next type of event and is simply a 3 lap race against a single opponent. You've got to beat your opponent to get the gold medal.

Another one of my favourites is the "Eliminator" events, which are very similar to the "Race" events. You square off against three opponents in a 3 lap race, the main difference is that at the completion of each lap the current racer in last place is eliminated from the competition! Win the race to get the gold medal, finish second for silver, and finish third for bronze. For these events you are assigned a default vehicle.

The last type of race event we come to are the "Grand Prix" events, which come in a few different incarnations including Grand Prix, Legend Grand Prix, Special Grand Prix, etc. These events are exactly the same as the "Race" events, except that instead of a single race they consist of a series of races, usually 3-4 of them. At the end of each race you are assigned an amount of points depending on your finishing position. At the end of all races the overall points leader is declared the winner. The medal you earn depends on your place in the standings after all races have been run.

As for the crash events, there is no differentiation among them. All you have to do is take the vehicle you are assigned and find the most efficient way of crashing it and causing as much damage as possible! The trick to these events is figuring out how best to approach them as even though all crash events are the same in terms of their core objectives/purpose, the differences in landscape, traffic patterns, environmental objects, etc. make each one a puzzle unto itself. The higher amount of destruction (measured in cash value) you cause, the higher level of medal you will be awarded.

There isn't anything to look out for in the race events, they are pretty straightforward, but there are some pickups you need to be concerned with as far as the crash events go. First of all there are circular orbs with dollar signs on them that act as cash pickups. These come in three different colours including gold, silver and bronze. These cash pickups are used to supplement your cash value damage total in any given crash event and are often times what you need in order to push you up in to gold medal territory. I believe the gold pickup is worth $20000, the silver $10000 and the bronze $5000, but I could be slightly off on that. Another pickup you'll see often is what looks like a yellow street sign with a lightning bolt on it. These are turbo pickups, when you run over them they'll give your vehicle a substantial boost in speed, which really helps you pack a little extra punch in to your initial crash contact. The last pickup you'll come across looks like an orange street sign that has the symbol of an explosion on it. When you land on these they will make your vehicle explode, damaging all vehicles within a certain radius. This is kind of like a bonus damage pickup and can come in really handy, especially when you've got a lot of vehicles within range when you land on it.

Like I just said there aren't any pickups to look out for in race events, but you will have to help yourself by taking chances and driving aggressively. Every time you face oncoming traffic, catch some air, bump and grind with other vehicles, perform takedowns, perform long drift, etc., you will earn "Burnout Points" and also fill your turbo bar. Keeping your pedal to the metal and your finger on the turbo button is a big key to winning race events, especially when they get even harder later in the game. So although driving aggressively is risky, it is a necessary risk if you are to succeed.

Before you begin any of these types of game events a screen will be displayed that will breakdown just what your targets are for achieving either a gold, silver or bronze medal, depending on the type of event you're playing. After you complete your event there will be a series of screens displayed, the first one will give you a breakdown on how many Burnout Points you earned, your race time, total number of takedowns, your final race position, best lap, longest drift, longest oncoming, crash dollar value, vehicles totalled, and medal earned. You'll then come to a screen which gives a breakdown of how you earned your Burnout Points in that particular event. Finally you'll come to a series of screens that add your total amount of Burnout Points, takedowns and cash value damage to global lists that track your totals throughout the course of your play over the entire game.

Last I'd like to mention the vehicles in this game. When you start out on each class only a couple vehicles will be available at first, you must unlock the rest of them. There are many ways to do this. First, there are four types of race events that if you complete, you unlock a vehicle automatically. In "Pursuit" events you unlock the specific police vehicle you are forced to control, to do this you don't need to achieve a gold medal, any old medal will do. In the "Face-Off" events if you win the race you unlock your opponent's vehicle for play in the game. And finally, in both the "Burning Lap" and "Eliminator" events, if you win you unlock the vehicle you were assigned to race with in that specific event. The other main method for unlocking vehicles is by upping your global crash dollar value amount from completing crash events. There are target amounts set where once you reach a certain dollar amount a new vehicle is unlocked, then a new target amount is set. Keep on crashing to unlock as many vehicles as you can! There are other ways of unlocking vehicles like by earning gold medals in all events of a certain type, or by beating other racers in the multiplayer ad hoc game mode, but I haven't been able to do any of these things just yet!

Getting back to the main menu the second option you'll come to is "Single Event" and is basically where you go if you just want to compete in some meaningless one-off events. Although why you'd want to do this when you have "World Tour" mode at your disposal is beyond me!! When you enter this mode you'll have five event options to choose from, the first one is called "Race". When you select this type of event you will then be asked to select the region you want to race in (USA, Europe, Far East, or random), the particular track you want to race at (depends on the region, you can also set this to random), then the number of rivals you are to compete against (1-3). After deciding on these particulars you'll be asked to choose your vehicle, from among any and all unlocked and available to you in the game. You are then whisked away to the race track in question for a quick 2 lap race.

The second option in this mode is called "Time Attack" and is very similar to the "Burning Lap" events in "World Tour" mode. First you select the region you want to race in, the specific track you want to race at, your vehicle, and then you are tasked with completing a 1 lap time trial as quickly as you can.

Third we come to the "Road Rage" option. After selecting the region, track, and vehicle you want to use, you then hit the road and attempt to perform as many takedowns on the opposing racers as possible. This is a little different than the "World Tour" Road Rage events however, as these ones aren't constrained by a time limit, they are constrained by how much damage your vehicle can take. Once you've taken enough damage that your car totally craps out, the event is over.

Next we have the "Pursuit" option. First you select the region, track, number of rivals (1-3), and vehicle you want to use, then you hit the streets chasing after your target vehicle. Ram him repeatedly to end the chase. There is only one target car to bring down in this event, when you select a high amount of rivals they are simply additional enemy cars that will attempt to impede your progress.

The fifth and final option under "Single Event" is "Crash" and these events are exactly the same as the crash events in "World Tour" mode, only you're not earning any medals for your performance. When you select this option you'll first select which crash event you want to partake in (can select random as well), then you choose your vehicle before heading out to cause as much damage as possible and rack up a hefty bill.

It is important to note that although in the "Single Event" mode you don't earn any medals, what does happen is that the totals you amass in terms of Burnout Points, takedowns, and crash value damage all get added to your global totals list. So racing in this mode can supplement the work you've done in "World Tour" mode despite the lack of medal competition.

As we head back to the main menu of this game the third option you'll see is called "Multiplayer", under which there are two sub-options. The first one is again called "Multiplayer" and is where you go if you want to hook up with up to three other Burnout Legends players and get a little friendly human on human racing action going. I haven't been able to find an available game to play so I haven't been able to experience this mode yet, but under this "Multiplayer" sub-option you have lots of further sub-options with regards to gameplay including "Join Game", "Single Event", "Tournament" and "Collector Challenge".

The second sub-option under "Multiplayer" is called "Game Sharing". By going here you can send a download of the game to a friend so he/she can experience a little taste of Burnout Legends before deciding to purchase it fully or not.

The fourth and final option from the game's main menu is "Driver Details" and is where you can get a detailed breakdown on how your progress through the game is going. When you select this option you are presented with five sub-options, the first of which is called "Progress". Here you'll find a simple list of your vital game stats including % of completion, total events completed, total Burnout Points, total number of takedowns, and total dollar value of crash damage.

The second sub-option is called "Rewards" and includes listings of quite a few things. First you'll be able to view what "Trophies" you've managed to unlock. There are certain tasks you can perform throughout your racing experience that will unlock these trophies for you, such as perform your first car takedown, or perform 5 takedowns in a single race, to give a couple examples. These trophy tasks are divided up in to Easy, Advanced, Expert and Champion categories, if you've completed any of them a gold medal will appear beside the task(s) in question. You will also be able to view your "Garage" under this sub-option. Basically by selecting this you'll bring up a listing of all vehicles in the game, showing which ones you have and haven't unlocked. There are 89 total vehicles in the game and here is how they break down: Compact Class – 14 vehicles, Muscle Class – 14 vehicles, Coupe Class – 14 vehicles, Sport Class – 14 vehicles, Super Class – 14 vehicles, Race Special – 8 vehicles, and Heavyweight – 11 vehicles.

The third sub-option under "Rewards" is "Signature Takedowns". When taking out your competitors in this game there are many ways to do so. Run them in to walls, run them in to other cars and trucks, but there are certain environmental objects throughout the tracks in this game that if you take a vehicle out using said objects, you'll earn yourself a special "Signature Takedown". This is where you go to view all 20 of them, seeing which ones you've been able to achieve. Next we come to the "Special Events" sub-option. There are 10 postcards you can unlock for certain regions in the game, usually done so by completing a "Burning Lap" event in said region. This is where you go to view these postcards. The fifth and final sub-option is called "Crash Headlines". On certain crash events in "World Tour" mode you can make the front page of the newspaper by causing a particularly devastating crash. This is where you go to view all 10 of these headlines.

Getting back to the main "Driver Details" option the third sub-option you'll come to is called "Records". Game records are separated in to two categories, Racing and Crash. This is where you go to see the records you've set at all tracks in the game, listing your best efforts in categories such as lap times, takedowns, longest drift, longest oncoming, and crash dollars. It also shows which vehicle you used to seat each of your records.

The fourth sub-option is called "Profile", where you can simply load, save, delete, or create new game save profiles. You can also toggle the autosave function on/off here.

Last we come to the "Settings" sub-option, where you can do a number of things. First you can adjust the "Gameplay" settings, including toggling the takedown camera on/off and switching the impact time function between manual/automatic. You can also adjust the "Audio" settings, using sliders to alter both the effects and music volumes. The "Controls" in the game can also be altered here, toggling between two pre-set settings. Lastly you can go in to "EA Game Trax" to view all the songs that are included in this game, toggling them to play all the time, only at certain points in the game, or even not at all.

So that's it for the basic structure and layout of the game, now we'll go over the game controls, which are pretty simple. Steering your vehicle can be done by using either the buttons on the directional pad, or by using the analog stick. The X button is used to give your car gas and make it accelerate, whereas the Square button is used to apply brakes and make it stop. Holding this button down after you come to a stop will make the car go in reverse. The O button is used to honk your horn (it can also be used to access the "Driver Details" option directly from the event map screen). As for the Triangle button, it is used to switch between the game's two camera angles on the fly, and also to initiate your crashbreaker move. During crash events once you've caused the initial accident you will earn a crashbreaker after a certain number of cars have piled on in to the wreckage. Once you've earned your crashbreaker press the Triangle button to make your car explode and cause even further damage to those vehicles in your immediate vicinity. The L button is used to reverse your view and look immediately behind you during a race. As for the R button, it is used to engage your turbo function and also to engage the impact time function. When an opposing vehicle takes you out during a race event you can press and hold the R button to slow time down. Then using the directional buttons or analog stick you can steer the wreck of your car in a certain direction in order to try and take out a passing opposing vehicle. Doing so earns you an Aftertouch Takedown. Pressing the Start button at any time during gameplay will bring up the pause menu. From here you have five options including "Resume" (get right back to the action), "Restart" (begin the event in question all over again from the very beginning), "Audio" (adjust the audio settings just as I described two paragraphs ago), "Controls" (again, adjust the control settings as I described two paragraphs ago), and "Quit" (cancel the current event and go back to the map screen).

As for the game's presentation, it leaves nothing to be desired! The environments are plentiful, varied, and very colourful indeed. The graphics are very sharp all around, especially the vehicles, they look great. The aspect ratio is great too, you are able to see enough of the environment ahead of you so that the turns don't surprise you at all in this game, which can sometimes be a problem on hand held racing games. The controls respond perfectly and the game has a very arcade quality and feel to it, which is sometimes a nice distraction from the true racing simulators out there. And of course being an EA game the sound is amazing, the soundtrack is very solid, it's actually quite similar to the one on an edition of NHL Hockey I have, NHL '06 maybe?

In terms of the game's pros and cons, they mostly fall on the pro side. First of all, the game is very long. With 75 race events and 100 crash events you'll be playing it for quite a while, doubly so if you are gunning for a 100% completion. I also like that there are a very healthy number of vehicles available to drive, a grand total of 89 is definitely on the high side. The insane amount of unlockable material up for grabs also stirs my drink!! Between all the vehicles, signature takedowns, trophies, postcards, crash headlines and such, you'll have a hard time keeping track of just what it is you're trying to accomplish in this game! The presentation is also one of this game's strong suits. It looks, feels and sounds just great, they didn't miss a beat when they put this game together, which has pretty much been typical of the series as a whole. On the downside I really wish they had made the vehicles in this game officially licensed vehicles. I like the cars in this game definitely, but for some reason I much prefer it when the vehicles I use in racing games are real life vehicles. I also didn't like the load/save times involved in this title, there is a good amount of waiting going on between each event, which unfortunately really helps to take away from the experience. But other than that this game is grade A!!

I don't have many tips or tricks to offer for Burnout Legends. I guess, first, be aggressive. You're not going to set any records, win any awards or unlock any bonus material by being conservative and playing it safe, by merely surviving the race. You've got to get in there, get your nose dirty, make everyone and everything around you pay the price! Also, if you get stuck on a certain event and can't seem to earn a higher class of medal, move on and come back to it later. Sometimes experience will give you the edge you need, and other times you'll unlock a more powerful vehicle you can use that will make your life much easier when you revisit said event down the road.

So that's it, another major victory for EA and the Burnout franchise!! It's not the best entry in the series, but that's not saying much when you consider just how great all of these games have been so far. I say I do think it's high time for a follow up to this title!