It's not a 'racing' game, it more like 'get to the finish line and hope you survive'.
The problems occurs when there would be times where you'll be racing in the city streets and you'll be more focused on time and avoiding crashes. Races can last from 10 to 20 minutes while Championships will last 30 minutes each. Many races and championships in the later parts of the time do become a bit more challenging, however only because the game adds more traffic to aviod and it's fighting the traffic that makes the game challenge, the racers don't do anything expect just turn up.
Also there are some instances where the races depends on the vehicle to win the race, not skill. Sometimes some opponents simply have a fast car and at some points, the racers will speed at 1st for the sake of it without offering a good challenging. Also there were some instances were you'll think your first and somehow, the game puts you in 2nd place after completing the race.
It's the traffic that's the worst... some cars are dark grey and they some how blend into the road. This is troublesome because you'll be driving and all of a sudden, you'll see a car pop out of no where. At one point in the final race of the game, grey vehicles popped out causing me to three times in a row. It also costed me the race.
Noting that I mentioned that the racers were just there for the sake of the game. The face off challenges do begin to offer a challenge. Not until the later part of the game were you'll be facing against a Tow Truck and a Bus. They wouldn't easily win against your selected vehicle, however its simply avoiding traffic and getting to the finish line when you race, so it makes the whole 'face off' pointless.
The tracks were worth racing on, there are some parts where you'll race three smaller tracks on the whole, this trend being continued onto the other sequels of the series.
The games graphics are good. There are a few problems including the dark grey 'hidden' vehicle moments and other moments where you'll begin mistaking some areas in the game as open areas where you simply crash into.
The sound was just throw in there, however some parts do take advantage of the PS2 to produce high quality sound and music and the controls of the vehicles do take some time to get used too, however it worth it in the end.
Other features include saving crash replays, I never used this often, however there would be time where I would as there would be those that were worth saving and showing off. Lastly, you'll end up using the boost bar less often during the game, as sometimes the blur while using it can cause discomfort while driving, maybe to balance out the gameplay.
If you wanna see where the Burnout series started, it worth getting the game, however dont expect the same mechanics used from later games to be widely used here.