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The first Burnout is pretty good. Burnout 2 is great. And then there’s Burnout 3 which is one of the greatest racing games ever made. But you know what these games are lacking? Portability. Emulation aside, you can’t just whip them out on-the-go. Being able to play Burnout anywhere seems like a great idea and Burnout Legends lets you do just that. Developed by Criterion Games and published by EA, Burnout Legends was released for the PSP in September, 2005, and DS in November of that same year. For this review, I played the PSP version on a modified Vita TV. It is worth mentioning that the PSP version released alongside Burnout Revenge for PlayStation 2 and Xbox.
Burnout Legends is an okay name. I can’t say it’s as good as Burnout 2: Point of Impact or Burnout 3: Takedown but it gets the job done and sounds cool. “Burnout Greatest Hits” would have also been appropriate because that’s what this is. It’s a blending of the first three games on a handheld system. It contains content from all three games, the gameplay is basically that of 3, and many of the tracks and vehicles will be familiar. However, there is an impressive amount of content on offer.
Since I played this on a Vita TV, I did play with a PS4 or DualShock 4 controller and had no issues with the controls. You can accelerate, brake, and drift, and driving dangerously fills up your boost bar and the boost mechanic works like it does in 3. You can activate the boost at any time and performing a takedown will extend the bar. If you crash, you can activate impact time to steer your wreckage around the road. You can perform takedowns in a number of ways. Signature and aftertouch takedowns return and you can enable or disable the takedown camera which has the same problem as that of 3. The camera focusing on the takedowns looks cool but it doesn’t always position itself in an ideal spot for aftertouch takedowns meaning you can’t always see incoming opponents.
Burnout Legends contains a nice collection of vehicles and most of them can be unlocked in single player. Some are only unlocked by playing the multiplayer mode which I didn’t get to try. The World Tour mode is what you should jump into first. This is where you can complete events for medals, awards, and to unlock vehicles. If you’ve played Burnout 3, progression in Legends is very similar.
The World Tour mode consists of multiple different event types but nothing we haven’t seen before like race, eliminator, crash, face off, grand prix, road rage, pursuit, and burning lap. You can also try for record times in the Time Attack mode outside of the World Tour. I think the pursuit event type is the standout here because even though it’s not really new, we haven’t seen it since Burnout 2 but also because you’ll get to unlock and drive different police vehicles this time around. The objective is still the same. Take down the target vehicle before it gets away. The popular Crash mode is basically a replication of what was in 3. Crashbreakers and all. In fact, every event or junction is taken directly from that game. You can acquire pickups like Boosts, Cash Bonuses, and Crashbreakers but the multipliers are absent. The biggest difference between the Crash events in Legends and 3 is that the target scores in Legends are lower.
Rubberbanding is present and AI opponents are both aggressive and relentless. They will try to slam into you, they will try to cause you to crash, and they will always be up your ass no matter how well you drive. The rubberbanding is very noticeable in Road Rage. If you slow down, you’ll see the AI slow down. I found taking them down to be a little more challenging here than in 3. Some slams that I thought would be a guaranteed takedown were not. You always need to be alert because no matter what the event is, AI opponents will not hesitate to shove your vehicle all over the road. Boosting can be very beneficial and not knowing how close an opponent is to you can be dangerous. They may seemingly come out of nowehere and slam into you, catching you off guard and then you crash.
All of the tracks in Burnout Legends are from the first three games. Most of them are from 2 and 3 and the layouts are identical. This means you’ll race on tracks set in the USA, Europe, and the Far East. As expected, traffic vehicles do populate the roads and act as obstacles. There’s not much to really say about the tracks since none of them are new. But the variety is nice.
Visually, Burnout Legends is vibrant and colorful and doesn’t look bad for a PSP game. The vehicle models look good and the vehicle deformation and destruction on display is impressive. Sparks will fly through the air when vehicles slam into each other or grind and crashes will often result in vehicle parts flying through the air. Pop-in is frequent and noticeable and it can be hard to see certain things ahead of you sometimes but the environments are detailed and the tracks are a great reflection of their original counterparts. Vehicles will roar as they speed along the roads, you’ll hear metal crunch and glass break during crashes, and the boosting sounds muffled compared to that of 3. Burnout Legends is a game to include an EA Trax soundtrack like Burnout 3 that came before it. It’s full of licensed songs that fans of alternative rock might enjoy. On the technical side, I did notice the frame rate dip from time to time and the only bug I encountered was vehicles frequently clipping through the environments after crashing. Other than that, no major issues.
I had fun with Burnout Legends but it is disappointing that there’s nothing really new here. However, I think for it’s time, it was a great way to experience Burnout on-the-go. In fact, I think it’s one of the best racing games for the PSP. It feels more like Burnout 3 than anything else and that’s good because if you’re going to model it after something, you might as well model it after the best game in the series up to this point. The portability is what really makes this great and you know what surprised me? How much was not compromised. Burnout Legends is actually better than I thought it would be. It may not reach the same highs as 3 but it does a good job capturing the intensity and retains the impressive destruction elements. It just doesn’t look as good. All the great game modes are here and that includes Pursuit from 2, all the Crash events are ripped from 3, all the great tracks from 2 and 3 are here, it supports multiplayer, and there’s a lot of vehicles to unlock.
I would recommend Burnout Legends but if you don’t own a PSP or care about portability, I would say skip this one. You’re not missing anything if you’ve never played it. Stick with Burnout 3 or Revenge. Burnout Legends feels like a full blown Burnout game but on a small system. That what makes it impressive. But everything in the game is recycled. If you’re looking for something new, you’re better off moving on to one of the sequels. If you’re looking to satisfy your craving for Burnout while you’re out and about, definitely check out Burnout Legends.