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Burnout is an arcade-styled racing game that pushes you to drive fast and dangerously. Mistakes result in crashes and pileups which are exciting to watch. The risk and reward style makes for exhilarating races. As fun as the original Burnout can be, it can leave you craving more and, luckily, the developers made a sequel that’s faster, bigger, and more exciting. Developed by Criterion Games and published by Acclaim Entertainment, Burnout 2: Point of Impact was released for the PlayStation 2 in October, 2002, GameCube in April, 2003, and Xbox in May of that same year. For this review, I played the Xbox version which is subtitled the “Developer’s Cut” and features more content.
Just like the first game, Burnout 2 is an arcade-styled racing game. You need to drive fast and dangerously to win races. You start with a small selection of cars to choose from and unlock more as you play through the Championship mode. There are no licensed vehicles in the game but you can drive a nice variety of vehicles ranging from compact cars to trucks. There’s a hot rod, sports cars, and even a police car. When choosing your vehicle you can select different colors, the transmission type, and each vehicle has different stats in acceleration, top speed, and control. You can accelerate, brake, and drift and driving dangerously builds up your boost meter. Dangerous driving includes things like driving on the wrong side of the road, drifting, near missing other vehicles, and getting air. Once the meter is full, you can activate the boost for more speed and when it depletes, it’s a burnout. If you deplete it while driving dangerously, it will automatically refill, allowing you to create a Burnout Chain.
Burnout 2 features multiple single player and multiplayer game modes including a neat training mode called Offensive Driving 101 which teaches you the mechanics. The Championship mode is the real meat of the game. It features different events and its where you unlock a good chunk of content like additional cars, game modes, and cheats. You’ll compete in Grand Prix races, Point-to-Point races, Pursuits, and Face Offs. Obviously, the objective is to win every event and you can earn medals and trophies. The final event in the Championship mode is a race to qualify for and unlock the Custom Series Championship which comes with its own events that are more challenging. But it’s where you unlock some of the fastest cars in the game.
A standard race consists of multiple laps around a track and a Point-To-Point race is where you race from one end of the track to the other. If you’ve played the previous game, Face Offs should be familiar. You race against a single opponent and in the Championship mode, winning a Face Off unlocks the opponent vehicle. Another Championship event that rewards you with vehicles is the Pursuit event. You get to drive a cop car and have to stop a vehicle by ramming into it enough times before it gets away. It’s similar to some of the Need for Speed games that feature police. Unfortunately, it’s not as exciting as it could be. You can only take down one vehicle and unless you play the multiplayer, you can’t be pursued by the cops. It would have been pretty cool if they were thrown into races and you had to evade them. But I guess at that point it would just be Need for Speed with better crashes. That actually became a reality when the two franchises were basically merged together in 2010, complete with police chases and everything, but that’s a topic for another time.
Face Off events can be played outside of the Championship after the event type unlocked as a cheat. Pursuit can be unlocked as a separate game mode. In the Pursuit mode, you can select any vehicle to be the cop and even select your target vehicle. The game also features the Single Race and Time Attack modes but one of the standout modes is Crash. I think Burnout 2 is where the series started to really take shape and the Crash mode is one of the reasons why. In this mode, you choose a vehicle and zone, and the objective is to rack up as much money as you can from crashing. It’s a lot of fun and can be very addictive. If you cause enough damage, you’ll be rewarded with a medal and you can unlock additional zones. Each zone is set in a different location and they’re like puzzles. To cause as much damage as possible, you have to crash into the right vehicle at the right angle and at the right time. In turn, the vehicle you crashed into will crash into another vehicle, and other vehicles will crash into those vehicles, so on and so forth, resulting in one massive pileup and a ton of destruction. It’s all about that point of impact.
As expected rubberbanding is present in Burnout 2 and I would say the difficulty is just right. In a game like this, the rubberbanding makes the races more exciting and action-packed. The Championship difficulty ramps up nicely and I would recommend you try to unlock every vehicle possible before jumping into the Custom Series Championship. Some of these events will really test your skills and the AI can easily speed passed you and gain a significant lead. The faster cars make some of the tougher races easier. You can try and force opponents to crash and it’s always satisfying when they do. The rubberbanding means AI opponents are never too far behind you but you can gain a good enough lead that one crash won’t drop you from first place. But two crashes in a row might. You need to always be alert.
There is a nice variety of tracks set in different locations. You’ll race through urban areas, around a lake, in the mountains, and around airport terminals. You’ll drive on highways, through tunnels, and over a dam. You’ll want to evade all the traffic vehicles on the roads but unlike the first game, there’s not nearly as many, making it easier to navigate through intersections and around turns. Some of the narrow roads can make things a little more challenging so sometimes its good to memorize the track layouts. Some tracks include sharp turns and knowing how to drift properly can be very beneficial. There are arrows and barriers and the amount of laps for tracks will vary. Some have different weather conditions and you can even select the weather condition when choosing tracks in certain game modes.
Burnout 2 does look better than it’s predecessor. It’s got more visual variety, it’s colorful, vibrant, and detailed. The car models look good and reflect their surroundings. When vehicles ram into things, sparks fly, and when they crash, parts will often go flying through the air, glass will shatter and break, and the vehicle models will show deformities. In the Pursuit mode, the target vehicle will emit smoke after it takes enough damage, and just like in the previous game, your vehicle will signal before making certain turns. It’s a nice little detail. I really like the tracks or environments in this game. From coastal roads to the snowy mountains, there’s a good variety of environments. The weather effects and different times of day will mix things up a little and wet roads will reflect lights which looks cool. The soundtrack consists of some rocking tunes and the music ramps up during a boost. I love the riff heard at the menu. Vehicles will roar as they speed along roads and you’ll hear metal crunching and glass breaking whenever one crashes. On the technical side, I encountered no major issues.
I really enjoyed Burnout 2. It’s such a fun game and it’s the first one in the series to support Xbox Live. It’s got numerous game modes, the racing is fast and fun, and the crashes are cool to watch. Burnout 2 is a racing game that can be enjoyed for a long time. It’s got a lot of replay value. This is a great example of a sequel that’s better in every way. It improves everything. It seems like this is where things clicked in the minds of the developers. It’s like they realized what made the first game so great so they gave you more of that in Burnout 2. It still puts a big focus on racing but also a big focus on crashing which has become the defining element of the series. The game can be challenging but it never crosses over into frustration and it’s more forgiving than the first game. For one thing, there’s less traffic on the roads but you can also tap a traffic vehicle without crashing during races which is nice. The AI opponents are never too far behind and some of the later events will really test your skills. Burnout 2 is an exhilarating racing game from start to finish.
I would absolutely recommend Burnout 2 to fans of the series and racing genre. It’s a nice blend of intense racing and vehicular carnage making it one of the best games of its kind. As great as Burnout 2 is, it’s still just a stepping stone to the series peak. Things get even crazier in the sequel, Burnout 3: Takedown. If you’re looking for a fun racing game with a lot of destruction, definitely check out Burnout 2: Point of Impact.