Crash events focus on causing huge pileups, while races have you bashing your opponents into walls for more boost.
Racing is the more visceral, heart-pounding side of Burnout Revenge. You'll get into a few different types of events as you go through the world tour. Standard races pit you against five other cars. Road Rage events tie your progression to how many opposing vehicles you can take out before time expires or before you destroy your car by wrecking too many times to continue. Eliminator races cause the last-place racer to blow up every 30 seconds until only the winner remains. Traffic attack gives you cash and extra time when you bash into traffic that's moving in the same direction as you are. Burning laps and preview events are time trials that put you in some of the game's fastest, most-difficult-to-control cars. Some of the races are offered in a crashbreaker variant a little later on in the world tour. This feature lets you bring the exploding-car action of crash mode into the races, giving you the tools to take out opposing racers if you happen to crash near them. All of the race modes force you to drive in a risky manner. You earn boost faster if you're driving through oncoming traffic, whizzing past trucks, and skidding around corners. This sort of forced danger, combined with the exciting back-and-forth battles with the other racers, is what makes Burnout so thrilling, and it's never been more exciting than it is here.
The world tour front end is more complicated than it needs to be. It starts out with one section for each rank. Each rank has a list of locations, and each location has a list of races. Sounds straightforward, right? But sometimes you'll unlock races in previous ranks while working up in higher ones, especially if you're focusing on crash events over race events, or vice versa. So you won't consistently move up to the higher ranks, as you'll constantly have to dig through the other ranks in search of events that you haven't completed yet. Additionally, the game seems to run out of new tracks and crash environments about halfway through. You'll race every single type of race on every possible track, both forward and backward. After awhile, it starts to get a little repetitive, but with each new rank, you do uncover a few new twists.
This picture can't properly convey how dramatic the game's sound effects are, so go watch a video or two.
Your choice of cars has also been made a little tougher. In Burnout 3, everything was spelled out for you right away. Each race fit into a class, and the most recent car you had in that class was usually the right one to use. Now, each car is rated in its top boost speed, its weight class (which tells you how likely it is to get pushed around the road by other cars, as well as how it handles around corners), and its crashbreaker force. When you unlock a new car, there's no guarantee that it'll be your new best vehicle, so selecting a vehicle takes a little more thought than it probably needs to. More often than not, though, the right-most car on your list is the one you'll want to use for races.
In all the single-player races, you'll go up against artificially intelligent racers that are governed by a very rubber-banded system that's intended to keep races close. This is usually the part that forces racing-game fans to turn away in disgust, but considering that the whole crux of Burnout Revenge is slamming into the other racers and fighting for position, the game absolutely needs this sort of AI system to work at all. As a result, you can expect to always have racers around you, creeping up on your back door when you're in the lead. In later races, the other cars get mean and really start trying to take you down. But on average, they're never too much to deal with.
The game allows for split-screen racing, including crash battle, where two racers play crash mode at the same time on the same track. But really, if you're going to play Burnout Revenge with more than one person, you want to play it online. Here, up to six players can compete in most of the single-player race types. Road rage becomes a team event online, with one team trying to finish a race while the other tries to take down the racing team. Crash battle and other variants of crash are also available online, but without the overview of the junction before you race, you'll have to go out of your way to memorize each pattern from its name alone. The racing and road rage modes are quite exciting online, and the addition of traffic checking really makes a difference.
Burnout Revenge offers a lot, but this version isn't much different than the one that came out six months ago.
It's been said before, but it's worth repeating: One of the most important things a racing game can do is properly convey what it feels like to be driving at ridiculously breakneck speeds. On the graphical side, it's several parts frame rate combined with a dash of great blur effects--perhaps with a little camera shaking thrown in for good measure. As simple as the formula sounds, most racing games fail to get it right. Despite a few spots where the frame rate takes a noticeable drop, Burnout Revenge is still the game to beat when it comes to delivering that feeling of flying around corners and through alleys at speeds north of 200 miles per hour. But this game isn't all speed with no substance. If you manage to stop for a second, take a look at the car models. They're not only incredibly smooth and shiny-looking, but also extremely cool car designs. Burnout might not be able to get licensed cars in the game, but with modern and occasionally flashy car designs like this, you almost wish someone would put them into actual production. Similarly, the environments look sharp, with terrific textures and great effects. Crashes and collisions have, obviously, been given special attention. Cars blast apart in even more dynamic ways this year, and explosions are truly terrifying.
While Burnout Revenge might not have enough new stuff in it to drag you back in if you've been playing it on other platforms, this is definitely the version to get if you're shopping around. It delivers solid, fast action, both online and off, and is easily the fastest, most exciting racing game available on the Xbox 360.