I’m writing this review from the point of view by someone never, ever played any of the burnout games before (by that I mean the original PS2 and Game Cube port). So, the Xbox is the last of the three consoles to receive Burnout and first impressions tend to lean over to the ‘excellent’ side.
Gameplay is what this game meant to be, if you’re in for a good arcade racer (everyone remembers Outrun™) then this game is certainly your kind of game. There aren’t that many cars to play with; only four at the beginning but a few more are unlocked as you play through the fourteen huge tracks. Just to give an idea about how big these tracks are, the biggest track takes 9 minutes to complete and that’s just one lap J. Traffic on those tracks is moderate and easily avoidable and comes in handy whenever you feel the urge to “guide” a fellow competitor (AI or multiplayer) into the radiator of an oncoming car.
Crashes are pretty well documented, as every crash has its own 4 seconds replay from different angles, even the insurance cost is displayed. Since this is a trueborn arcade racer, damage isn’t really accurate even though that doesn’t spoil the fun.
In challenge mode, you play through a set of three tracks, usually three laps, sometimes one on each, and must place first in the last (or the only) race to unlock the next challenge. Opponent AI is fair, but certainly not advanced although they tend to follow the same path as you’d do. Next to finishing first, the second main goal of the game is to get your car to achieve a “burnout” which is some kind of fighter jet engine that is invisible of course but makes you gain the speed of light in no timeJ. Surely is nice done as the screen looks just like Han Solo’s starship is pulling into hyperspace 🙂
About the sound: Dolby Digital 5.1 is supported (oh boy!) but the race effects are somewhat disappointing, the only sound effects that are somewhat enjoyable are the squeals of the tires. What surprised me was the absence of the possibility to listen to your own tracks while playing this game; I found it pity since it’s one of the main features of the Xbox.
Multiplayer is just awesome and as with any console racing game multiplayer is the opportunity to kick some buddies’ ass, but since the game is very easy to pick up you’ll only gain some advantage with your knowledge of the tracks. As with single player, multiplayer also handles its races with the same system: through checkpoints (does this all sound arcade to you? Certainly does!).
Burnout is certainly one of the fastest and easiest games on the Xbox console, if you’ve got the controllers you need, if you got a big wide screen and you’ve got three friends (no, dogs won’t do) then this is just your game.