Electronic Arts was raked over the coals with the Xbox 360 launch. It wasn’t due to the publisher having bad games, necessarily, but for porting super-polished games from the current console generation and/or for producing what some gamers claimed were incomplete next-gen games (Madden NFL 06, for example).
Well, if you were one of the people who took offense at the ported versions, you will probably want to steer clear of Burnout Revenge on the Xbox 360, because not a whole heck of a lot has changed. What has changed, though, is definitely for the better, so if you never got around to playing Burnout Revenge on the current consoles, you might just want to consider testing the definitive Burnout Revenge experience.
Since the game is essentially identical in the offline gameplay department, you may as well read our review of the current-gen version. This Xbox 360 review will instead focus on the things that have changed, which comprise a short but very important list.
Most notably, the graphics have seen a significant upgrade. Although it probably goes without saying, everything in Burnout Revenge for the Xbox 360 looks much crisper, much clearer and much more distinct than anything the current-gen systems offered. It still suffers from some occasional pop-in, but normally only on the crash junctions. With the newfound clarity, racing down the road at breakneck speed also feels a bit more controlled, as you have a clear concept of what lies ahead.
That is, of course, until you realize how carried away Criterion got with the special effects. On one hand, you’ve got to hand it to the developer for being able to create a fast-paced game with this many objects (sparks, smoke, outdoor furniture and fences) that still manages to maintain a steady framerate. On the other hand, you’ve got to wonder what Criterion was thinking by obscuring your view with this much stuff when the high-speed races of the game can already feel overpowering at times.
Generally speaking, Burnout Revenge looks an awful lot like Need for Speed Most Wanted on the Xbox 360, and some stretches of track looked darn near identical. For that matter, even the over-exposure effect of going from a tunnel to daylight is the exact same as EA’s other next-gen racer. Fortunately the color palette isn’t quite as monochromatic, although it’s still not the most diverse.
Aside from the overall polish, the most impressive graphical touch in this Xbox 360 version is the explosions. Criterion loves things that go “boom,” and this version of Burnout Revenge goes “boom” like no other racing game before it. From the nuclear bomb-like appearance to the splash damage that each explosion inflicts, the explosions look remarkable.
Oddly enough, the explosions sound good too, as the audio department is the second area EA beefed-up for the Xbox 360. Remember the THX introduction in which Grandpa Simpson yells “Turn it up! Turn it up!“? Well Criterion was listening, because the volume is loud, the explosions are louder, and each car sounds like it’s equipped with a jet engine. And you’re sitting in the middle of it. Even the soundtrack seems to have gotten a few new songs, inspiring me on more than one occasion to actually stay in the main menu to listen to the music. Believe me, that has never happened for me with an EA game, so this was a most-welcome discovery.
Bells and whistles aside, the biggest change to Burnout Revenge on Xbox 360 is the inclusion of online rivals. Much like the offline game, in which any car that causes you to crash becomes a target for revenge, everyone who takes you down online has a big red target over their car just asking for retribution. Even the members of your own team. These rivals aren’t just for single races, as the game tracks their attacks (and your revenge) during the course of an entire session. Although this doesn’t add anything statistically to the game, it adds another layer of competition that both fits the game perfectly and reaches that deep, dark road rager inside all of us. Couple this online intensity with a lobby system that now works beautifully, and you’ve got yourself an online winner.
The intense competition is further helped by Criterion’s apparent balancing of each race. Whereas the current-gen versions of Revenge felt like one-person races at times, Burnout Revenge on Xbox 360 is always a close-race experience. The computer never uses false “catch up” techniques, but the races are still much closer than they used to be.
On the whole, Burnout Revenge on Xbox 360 isn’t a giant leap forward from its current-generation counterpart, but the additional attention to graphics and audio helps it seem sufficiently unattainable on the current systems. Ironically, though, it’s the online rival system and balanced AI, perhaps two of the easiest updates, that are the most compelling additions. Other small issues with the single-player version still persist, but the online complaints are essentially gone. With any luck, the next time we all “burn out,” the experience will remind us of the near-perfection of Takedown.
- Gameplay: 8.8
- The races are closer and the online rivals are an awesome addition. Sometimes the amount of “stuff” gets in the way of the race, though.
- Graphics: 8.9
- Great explosions and good overall clarity, but a bit more detail (especially in the color department) wouldn’t be a bad thing.
- Sound: 9
- Sweet faces of Moses; I actually like an EA soundtrack! The car engines and explosions are good too.
- Replay: 8.8
- The single-player is about as compelling as before, but the AI and online tweaks boost the replay value.
- Overall: 8.8
- A clear improvement over the current-gen version, and the definitive Burnout Revenge experience. Still not quite up to Takedown’s greatness, though.