|Burnout 2: Point of Impact was a victim, or benefactor, of Acclaim’s new marketing strategy that found the publishers in a heap of trouble with government and media alike. Similar to their “name your baby Turok campaign” – which asked for the parents of a newly born baby to legally change their child’s name to Turok for a whole year – Burnout 2’s marketing was shrouded in controversy. To mark the release of the game in the United Kingdom, Acclaim offered to pay for any speeding tickets incurred by aggressive drivers for one day, and one day only. The offender would pay the ticket, and Acclaim would reimburse them the money as a way of promoting the game. The plan backfired and the UK’s government thought Acclaim was encouraging reckless driving. The promotion was subsequently canceled, but Burnout 2 was still released. For those who look past the questionable marketing and butt-load of PS2 games released this holiday season, you will find an imaginative game that houses some spectacular crashes and adrenaline pumping action. |
The premise of Burnout 2 is one of the most original to pop out of the racing genre in a long time. Racers like Gran Turismo 3: A-Spec and The Need for Speed discourage the damaging of the licensed vehicles, therefore Acclaim choose to go with look-alikes instead of the real thing in order to tear the hell out of the cars. Still, almost every racing game you play will have you face off against a field of racers numbering between four and 42, but you never got the sense you are actually racing when your expensive sports car smashes up against another and you are only slowed down slightly. Burnout 2 is different in that respect because every hit, every bump and grind will cause a spectacular crash (most of the time), sets you back precious seconds and delivers the eye candy.
You are pitted against three other cars in the championship mode that calls for you to weave in and out of traffic to complete a given course. These tracks include coastal highway runs, or enclosed tracks that require anywhere from two to five laps. Along the way you will be up against oncoming traffic, opposing racers and your nerves as you come so very close to destroying your car, and quite possibly your chance to win. By playing through the championship mode you will have the opportunity to unlock new cars, objectives and tracks.
Among these new objectives to unlock are the duel and pursuit modes. In the duel mode, you are up against one other car, which is usually much faster, and you are given the challenge of beating this car in a race. If you accomplish this task, you unlock the given car; fail and you must try again. Pursuit mode is similar to The Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit 2, in which you are given a car to chase and you must do so much damage to it in order to catch the driver. To do this the opposing car has a certain number of “impact points” that are deducted when you ram into them. This mode also allows you to unlock cars, such as the Police Cruiser.
Anyone who has played the original Burnout will know that the crashes are what make the game. Sometimes you can cause some true havoc on the roadways; this is why Acclaim added in the extra Crash mode that encourages destructive driving and massive amounts of damage to pass. You are given three tiers of completion based on the amount of monetary damage you produce. You will either be awarded with Bronze, Silver or Gold on the 12 different events that unlock in groups of three when you conclude the previous three. Strategy comes into play here because the traffic flow is always the same. You need to calculate the exact “point of impact” that will thrust your car into traffic and cause the biggest melee. Sound fun? It most certainly is.
Graphics are topnotch – as they should be from Criterion Games, who are known for some amazing graphical work on the Dreamcast and previous PlayStation2 offerings. Race tracks are full of life with traffic, and even with dozens of cars on screen at the same time you hardly notice any slowdown. While two-player mode brings down the frame-rate, the game still looks great. The level of detail isn’t overwhelming, but the textures are clean, reflection mapping on the cars look great and the physics, when associated with pieces of your car, are over the top but still well executed.
Sound is average as a whole. While the sound effects are nicely done with anything from tires squealing to metal crunching, the music is a bit underwhelming with a game such as this one. Even though some may oppose licensed music in games, I really feel that Burnout 2 could have benefited from some big-name bands providing the guitar riffs and drum beats other than the generic “mega-rock” sound that flows from your speakers. You are better off turning down the volume and popping in a CD of your choice.
Burnout 2’s problems never inhibit the game’s fun factor, but do leave you with a few questions. The collision detection can be touchy at times. One time, while racing, I hit my boost and was riding it into a curve when I hit the front of a bus. Rather than crashing, I was simply brushed aside and continued with my boost. Other times I would barely nick the rear bumper of a car and be called out on a crash. Simply put, it is hit or miss with crashes. Also, the two-player mode does suffer from a dragging feeling by stretching the system and lowering the frame rate. The dramatic sense of speed that you get from the one player mode is hindered and greatly reduced.
Contrary to the small problems with the game’s engine, Burnout 2 is a fun game to play. The first night alone a friend and I played the game for a better part of the night opening up the different crash zones, racing for new cars and just seeing who could cause the most havoc. Sometimes it got personal, with punches being thrown, but it was all in good fun.
There aren’t many games that can deliver so much fun from a tried and true genre such as racing, but Acclaim’s Burnout 2 manages to provide hours of fun, exhilarating racing, spectacular crashes, and a great sense of speed. Burnout 2: Point of Impact comes highly recommended for either a rental or buy, and improves greatly on the original, something not too many sequels are able to do these days.