Burnout Revenge (2006)
Burnout Revenge has done something I never thought possible. Coming back to it years later, It has been able to de-throne Burnout 3 Takedown and take its rightful place as my favorite Burnout game. I was convinced for so long that 3 featured the best of what the Burnout series had to offer, but upon playing through Revenge, realized how many of those small changes brought the franchise to its full potential
It all starts with the beginning intro movie, showing you a small tv like box in the middle of a black screen. A voiceover, in a sharp tinny voice, shows you the burnout games up until now. And with a blast and an explosion the Burnout games transform into a High Definition screen filling experience. Loud music, loud engines, loud explosions. It encompases you and demands you pay attention to it.
This is Burnout as you never played it before. An improved way to play that game that I had fallen in love with over a decade ago. Everything about Revenge has been amped up. It takes the same formula and ramps it up to 11. All the same modes are here, but have been tweaked, speed up and simply made better for it. With the 360 launch, HD was on everyone’s tongue, it was everywhere and was a major selling point. Revenge was released 6 months earlier on the Original Xbox, and the 360 port was held back for some additional polish, and it shows.
The game really takes advantage of the 360’s push into HD gaming, with an abundance of polished car models and particles. Every slam of metal and concrete result in a million sparks that feel like you are in an iron smelt. Even with the over abundance of the notorious Bloom effect that overstayed its welcome in the early days of the 360, it drenches the skies with a warm glow that gives the dirty industrial area and even the coastal regions some sense of life.
Jumping into the game you are given a menu system that is easy to follow. As you start, you are given a few events to choose from. A normal race, Crash mode, Eliminator, Road Race, and the newcomer Traffic Attack. Revenge introduced a new mechanic where you are able to shunt same way traffic, and pushing them into normal other same way traffic allowing you to get rid of overbearing busses or big rigs in the way, oncoming traffic to cause other racers in oncoming lanes to crash, or even just straight into other racers to psyche them out. The modes allow you to really change up how you learn a track, sometimes giving you reverse layouts or a section of a track that is only used for Eliminator challenges. What really threw me for a loop while replaying this game was how my mind was changed toward Crash Mode. Crash Mode was the feature that was the main talking point with the Burnout series, a mode that focused on creating as much monetary damage as possible. The way you had to plan out your attack on the intersection. Trying to crash into the best possible angle, using your crashbreakers at the most opportune moment to gain the most money. It truly was the best part of the series. But because of the setup time involved, the loading, the waiting for the crash cam, the misses of traffic and just general planning involved, I found myself skipping those events and heading for the Road Rage events, where it is just you, other racers and a timer. For every X amount of cars you ram and crash, you get extra time. It’s so hectic and crazy that half of the time you don’t blink during a whole race. Each blink could result in a crash. Once you take so much damage you will explode and the event will be over.
A huge part of Revenge on the 360 was also its multiplayer component, with its emphasis on Xbox Live. Online battle racing was something we dreamed of for years. I remember standing in the parking lot of a client with my bosses during an overnight job. While taking a break we fantasized about saving our most brutal takedowns and putting them online for the world to see. Also adding achievements to the game changed the way we played the game. No longer did you just try to get 1st place, but you were also trying to get perfects, more takedowns and even get revenge online to share the clip just to get that sweet unlocked achievement sound, that became my text tone for the next 10 years.
That is what is fun about Revenge, it is so intense. Every race, every event is a battle. White knuckle racing that requires the utmost attention. Every turn could be an opportunity to take out an opponent. Oncoming traffic and lanes will lead to big boost bonuses, but coupled with the sound design, it is heart pounding excitement. The whizzing by of cars makes your heart skip a beat. So many times during the game, there were whole races that I found myself barely breathing. When I crossed the finish line, I usually let out a large breath of air, as I was too scared to exhale. Revenge offers the arcade style speed that is sorely missed in most racing games now. The focus on simulation racing over the last decade has made the Burnout series sorely missed, and Revenge has everything I want out of a racing game.