Get your ears syringed while you’re at it, because Revenge sounds every bit as good as it looks. From the sounds of steel tearing against steel to the whoosh of the traffic as you boost past or through, this one practically begs for a decent Pro-Logic II surround-sound system (Dolby Digital 5.1 on Xbox). And while the hand of EA is again clearly visible in the soundtrack, which is heavy on the up and coming guitar bands, it all fits the action pretty well. As far as intense audio-visual experiences go, Burnout: Revenge is as good as it gets. Thank goodness for the slick, movie-style replays that flash in after every crash or takedown. They don’t just look good – they give you time to breathe.
The Burnout team don’t just deserve plaudits for the presentation, however. With each update to the franchise, they’ve managed to do something that radically changes the nature of the game. Burnout was the arcade racer that added boosts and traffic to the genre. Burnout 2 brought gameplay modes, a smoother, more enjoyable structure and the hugely enjoyable ‘crash junctions’ along to the party. Burnout 3 gave us the takedown, putting the gameplay firmly on the offensive. Now Revenge brings us three key transformations: a revised world tour mode that integrates the crash junctions with the regular challenges, a revenge mechanic that gives you bonus points for trashing those who have dared to trash you, and the ability to shove most same-way traffic around like a bowling ball scattering ninepins.
It’s this last move that is the most important, and the most controversial. One of the biggest challenges of old-school Burnout was threading your way through the traffic in the most effective, daredevil way imaginable. No longer. In Revenge you can plough through most everything bar trucks and buses with impunity, and the fact you earn bonuses and boost for doing so makes it almost pointless to hit the wrong side of the road and risk demolition from oncoming traffic. In one stroke, this makes Revenge an easier game to play. Believe me, the purists are going to try it, grumble, and run straight back to Burnout 3.