I have a quick confession to make: I don't like the Gran Turismo series. Now, that's not to say I have anything against it. By all means, the entire series is a marvel of technicality and incredible game design. It's just that I don't find the games, well, fun. They're just not my thing. I don't like building fleets of underpowered, everyday cars and racing endless circuit races in order to eventually upgrade to a Mazda, maybe. I want to toy with the European dreamboats, the sports cars that fly down the road at 300 KPH while hitting hairpoint turns. I don't care for strategic driving depth when I have that in abundance in real life. I want to press the gas until the floor gives out!
Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome the Burnout series, a series of games which is best described as racin' for people who want to go racin'!
In Burnout 2: Point of Impact, depth sleeps with the fishes. No one gives a shit about air brakes, double drifts, closed courses, or any of those other things racing games adopted once console gaming hit a third dimension. No, in Burnout 2, well, see that button there with the X shape on it? Yeah, press that sucker down.... Hold it.... Hold it.... Hold it.... Have you won the race yet? No? Keep right on holding, friend. Try not to smash into anything. Oh, apparently you didn't listen to that last one. Hurt real good, didn't it?
Okay, there are brakes used in Burnout 2, but they're basically only in the game as a precaution and as the way to drift. Yes, there's drifting in this game too, but I haven't yet found it necessary. But hell, the designers of Burnout 2 didn't see it fit to provide you with so much as a closed course. You get in your car and sign that race waiver, man, and then you're flinging yourself headfirst into the city traffic, and often enough, you're going to be going into it headlong as fast as you can. When you crash - and believe me, you WILL crash - you'll be treated to a spectacular cinematic of your road fuckup.
Burnout 2 banks on this kind of gameplay and fun. Pick the car, hit the streets, and try to outrun three other cars who are hogging the road along with you. The game encourages and rewards bad street behavior in the form of your turbo boosts, which, in case you can't figure it out from the name, bring your car to a complete, instant stop in the hope that your opponents smack right into your backside. (Note: That was sarcasm.) The game even takes you through an offensive driving school which is there to show you the rudimentary ropes. And this offensive driving school isn't like the vicious, endless road tests in Gran Turismo which are damn near impossible and prevent you from even getting the game started. The offensive driving school is actually rather easy, and I medaled in the handful of tests. I earned the lowest honor in most of them but was allowed to move on anyway. I was eager to start the game and get my offensive driving education that way.
See, Burnout 2 understands the PERCEPTION of racing, and it plots its gameplay accordingly. There are actually several different kinds of races to charge through. Of course, there's the regular, everyday grand prix mode that can be found in every racing game ever. But there are also one-on-one showdown races and duels where you play a car trying to repeatedly slam into another car and run it off the road. The variation keeps things interesting, which is important because, let's face it, otherwise Burnout 2's simplicity would work against it in a rather nasty way.
Those speed boosts you'll be using can be a bit of a problem. To use them, you need a little meter to fill up all the way. These meters aren't time-fillable; they're action-fillable, and the actions needed to fill them include driving on the wrong side of the road, flying over hills, and near-misses with pedestrian cars. Unfortunately, to get them to work, they need to be filled all the way, which puts you at a severe disadvantage if you decide you need to hit the burst button for just a second. You'll hit burst, fly through whatever needs to be flown through, and then, even if the meter is still mostly full, you won't be able to activate it again.
You'll probably be needing those bursts at a few points too, at least beyond the first few races, because Burnout 2 has terrible problems with the difficulty curve, which ramps up too quickly. The whole cheating computer routine starts way too early, although I haven't had serious problems with the the rubber band computer drivers just yet. This IS an Acclaim game, though, so I'm not going to rule it out.
The course designs blew me away with their originality, at least to the point where they stop being obviously navigable. There are blinking lights which show you the way through everything, but the don't crop up in quite as many places as you would like. Hell, there are spaces which look open, but you can't get into because they're not part of the proper course - they're just there to provide the open traffic flow which makes things interesting. I wasn't wild about not being able to find my way around the course because of a sudden shift in the road layout, nor was I wild about the way that nothing indicated differences between points which I was supposed to simply move a little bit to one direction or make a full out pinpoint turn. In the airport course, the appearance damn near cost me the entire race.
The graphics and sounds in Burnout 2 are functional and work exactly the way they're supposed to. They don't do anything challenging - hell, the music is generic and bland road rash rock music in this genre - but there's nothing to complain about, either. No slowdown, framerate, clipping, or pop up problems.
The gameplay also functions very nicely. You can feel the differences in the ways each and every car handles, and if you want a tip, then make damn sure you get a car that handles well. There aren't any fancy dodads in the controls or the handling. You get one brake, and a way to drift which is very easily pulled, plus a camera. The whole gyst of the game is to keep your finger on the accelerator button.
Burnout 2: Point of Impact is purely racing for the arcade-going, pick up and play crowd. It's a racing game for old-school racers who grew up playing Daytona USA and its ilk, and that ain't a bad thing.
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About the reviewer
Nicholas Croston (BaronSamedi3)
Hi! I'm here in part to plug my writing and let everyone know that I'm trying to take my work commercial. Now, what about me? Well, obviously I like to write. I'm … more
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