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Burnout Revenge: Revenge is Sweet
Company: EA Games

Well, Criterion Games has done it again. Get ready for the next installment of the Burnout series, and this one looks like it will put last year's smash-hit, Burnout 3: Takedown, into the scrap heap.

Burnout Revenge takes the best features of its predecessor and gives it to you in newer, better, sleeker and more explosive ways. The raceways are bigger, more complex and full of shortcuts and different levels that lets you get the drop (literally) on the other cars that much easier. Though there was only one race on the demo disc, I played it a few dozen times, and kept finding new ways to sneak ahead or ambush an unsuspecting opponent. I was always amazed when I would get knocked away from my target and end up finding another way to get to the finish line. These alternate routes include tunnels, construction sites, under the interstate, on top of or even through buildings. I have yet to play through the race and not find some new strategy. If the rest of the tracks are anywhere near the complexity of this one -- then we are in for a treat.

With the game's previous version, I stayed up until the wee hours on several occasions playing, but not necessarily the racing modes. Oh no, what got me hooked on Takedown were the crash modes. The sheer fun of speeding down the street to cause as much monetary damage as possible while being hit only once. Well, parts of that mode have bled into the racing portion of Burnout Revenge. The most notable addition is the Crash Breaker system. That was the extra umph you had in the crash mode that let you explode your car just as you got into a prime location to cause more damage.

Well in this game, whenever you've been incapacitated, you don't have to go quietly. If you time it right, you can set off the Crash Breaker and exact vengeance on the car that pushed you into the wall (and maybe take out a few other rivals while you're at it). It's because of additions like this that Revenge promises to be the most explosive racing game of the year.

So you may be asking, why would you want to take revenge on the other cars? Well besides the sheer vindictive fun of it, you get points for it. At the end of each race, you will be scored on your driving skills, aggressiveness and your vengeance. You earn driving skill points by not crashing, while the aggressive meter goes up when you keep others in check or push them into walls or race against the flow of traffic. The vengeance meter, though, is specially designed for those cars that have dealt you some pain. If an opponent hits you, pushes you in the wall or otherwise annoys you, the number over the car (their rank) turns red. You get extra points for taking them out at that point. And you can use everything from the environment to the other vehicles to stop them. There were several times when I sped up and hit one of the random cars on the highway and that vehicle flew across the road and took out one of my rivals to net me a few thousand points.

And of course, the Burnout-patented slow-motion crashes are still there. When you or another vehicle go flying, you get to watch as the sparks, glass and vehicle pieces fly.

There are also two new modes: Traffic Attack and Grudge Match. Traffic Attack sounds like it will be a lot like the crash mode of the previous version (goodie for me). Here you will be racing against the clock to destroy as many vehicles as possible, letting you take out your rush-hour road-rage in the safety of your living room. Grudge Match will have you and a rival going head to head to see who can last the longest.

Burnout Revenge will have race tracks across three continents in locations inspired by real world places like Detroit, Rome and Tokyo. But that's not the only way that you will be able to race around the world. Burnout supports a 6-player online section that lets you exact revenge on the net.

Expect to see the latest Burnout title to hit the streets this September.

-J.R. Nip, GameVortex Communications
AKA Chris Meyer
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