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Burnout 2: Point of Impact Review
game: Burnout 2: Point of Impact
five star
posted by: Eric Qualls
publisher: Acclaim
date posted: 09:10 AM Fri Oct 25th, 2002
last revision: 06:33 AM Fri Sep 23rd, 2005

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Arcade race fans rejoice. Burnout 2 is an absolutely fantastic arcade racer just begging to be played. Burnout 2 features the same white knuckle driving as the original Burnout, but adds more cars and tracks as well as improved graphics. Burnout 2 is fast, exciting, and most important, it\'s a lot of fun.

The thrill of Burnout 2 comes from the fact that you are racing against three other cars on tracks that are covered in traffic. Darting between cars at 150 mph is a thrill, to say the least. Taxi cabs, pickup trucks, buses, mini vans, fully loaded semis and more litter the road, and it is your job to avoid them and reach the finish line in first place. Running a perfect race and not hitting any other cars is quite a task, but it is an addictive challenge that will keep you coming back to Burnout 2 again and again.

The Championship mode is the heart of Burnout 2 as it is where you can unlock new cars and new tracks. There are several types of races that have to be mastered as you progress through the game. There are races on closed tracks as well as point-to-point races where you compete against three other cars. There are also face-off races where you race against one other car, and if you win, you unlock that car to use in the game. Pursuit races put you behind the wheel of a police car, and it is your job to chase a speeder and do enough damage to their car to stop them for good. If you can catch the speeder, that car will be unlocked for you to use. Once you beat all of these types of races, you unlock the Custom Series Championship which features souped up custom cars in much more difficult races.

One complaint I have with the championship mode is that in order to unlock the pursuit and face-off races, you have to win every race in a series of up to seven races. If you lose a race, you cannot unlock new races, so you have to play through the series again. Also, if you know you are going to lose, there is no option to restart the race. There is only an option to quit the race, but doing so will register as a loss. I found it easiest to just hit the reset button on my PS2 when I knew I was going to lose. This took me back to my last save and gave me another shot at that particular race. A bit of a minor complaint, but the option to restart these races would have been appreciated.

Burnout 2 features several other modes of play besides the Championship and Custom Series Championship modes. There are single race and time attack modes as well as a training exercise called Offensive Driving 101. The best mode, however, is the mode that takes advantage of Burnout 2\'s best feature: crashes. Crash mode puts you on a closed track with unlimited boost power and a whole line of cars to crash into. The score you get is determined by how much total damage is done and then is multiplied by how many cars were involved in the wreck. Getting a gold medal on most of these crash scenarios is pretty easy, but there are a few ridiculously high goals that have to wait until you unlock faster cars.

The amazing crashes are definitely the star of Burnout 2. When you get into a wreck, the race stops and the camera angle shifts to best display the crash. Bumpers, hoods, and wheels fly off of your car. As your car flips or crashes into other cars, the body deforms and even more parts fly off in smoke filled arcs. The computer controlled cars are just as destructible as your own car. Windows shatter, buses crumple, and semis spin out and jackknife. By the end of the accident, a dozen vehicles will lay in a smoking heap. A few seconds after it began, the crash is over and your car magically appears back on the road in perfect condition, ready to get back into the race.

The key to the speed and excitement--and the reason why the crashes are so cool-- is a little thing in the lower left hand corner of the screen called the Burnout meter. This meter fills up whenever you narrowly miss another vehicle, whenever your car leaves the ground, whenever you drift (powerslide) around a corner, and fills up more rapidly when you drive on the wrong side of the road. Once the meter fills up, you can use a turbo boost. The point behind the boost is to hold it as long as possible. If you do a full pull, the meter will fill halfway back up. If you get some air, or drive on the wrong side of the road, or have a lot of near misses while you are doing the turbo boost, your boost meter will fill up even more. Under the right circumstances, you can build up your meter enough while boosting to be able to use the turbo boost for a long time. These are called Burnout combos and can help you make up a lot of time if you find yourself falling behind.

There are about thirty different tracks at several different scenic locations. There are twisting mountain roads, a drive along the ocean, busy freeways, and many more. All of the tracks are designed so that you can be at top speed all the way around the track. One track at an airport is basically an oval, and on a couple of occasions, you can race it in reverse. This means you are going against traffic the whole way and your boost meter fills up very rapidly. It is quite possible to get a Burnout combo that lasts the entire race. The tracks are all well designed and fairly consistent in quality.

There are seven cars available when you first start the game. Although none of the cars are officially licensed, it is pretty easy to tell what each car is supposed to look like. There is a Ford Focus look-alike, a Dodge Viper, a pickup truck, an SUV, and more. The cars you unlock through the Championship mode are the best of the bunch though. A NASCAR look-alike, a hot rod, a \'57 Chevy, a Lotus, a Supra, and even a couple of cars that look like they came straight out of The Fast and the Furious. Each car is rated according to its acceleration, control, and top speed. The Supra look-alike and the Supercar (a Le Mans race car) are probably the best cars in the game and once you take them for a spin, it is pretty hard to go back to anything else. There are over 20 cars in Burnout 2, and most of them are an absolute joy to drive. Don\'t expect Gran Turismo like car customization, though. Burnout 2 is a straight arcade racer, so each car has to be used as is.

Graphically, Burnout 2 looks very good. The cars are fairly detailed and feature a lot of nice reflections and lighting effects. Even the traffic looks pretty decent this time around. The background graphics have improved significantly over last year\'s effort, and the game looks great overall. It blazes along at a consistent 60 fps and the sense of speed is unparalleled. When you use a turbo boost, the background blurs and the screen stretches, giving you an even greater appreciation for just how fast you are going. I do have one complaint though. The police car that you use for the pursuit missions is a bit hard to drive because of the flashing lights on top. In Burnout 2, recognizing oncoming vehicles and looking far down the road are key to avoiding accidents. The flashing lights on the police car are a bit too tall and a bit too bright, and they make it quite difficult to see down the road. Other than that, the graphics in Burnout 2 are superb.

The sound is equally impressive. When you crash, tires squeal, metal crumples, glass shatters, and each impact is perfectly accompanied by a heavy crunch. The music while you are racing isn\'t all that noticeable at first. The faster you go, the louder the music gets, and when you use a turbo boost, the music picks up in tempo and gets even louder. The music in Burnout 2 is mostly made up of techno beats with heavy guitar licks thrown in here and there. The sound is just as good as the graphics and round out an excellent game.

Overall, Burnout 2 is a great arcade racer that will appeal to just about everyone. The controls are simple, the graphics and sound are superb, and the racing itself is intense. The championship modes and the crash mode will keep you busy for quite a while, and actually beating the pursuit missions is quite a challenge. The whole game is actually pretty challenging, but not in a frustrating way. It really does take nerves of steel to bite the bullet and use a turbo boost among thick traffic. Dodging around cars and narrowly avoiding crashes is a very satisfying feeling, but getting into a big crash is also pretty gratifying. Burnout 2 is flat out fun. At the very least, give it a rent, but if you are a fan of racing games, it is definitely worth a purchase.