While most people look at EA as an evil conglomerate these days by buying out the competition, whoring out major movie licenses and simply updating their annual titles, every so often they do something that is in the best interest of the gaming industry. With the acquisition of Criterion Software in 2004, EA was able to pick up the Burnout franchise and bring the unappreciated series to the masses (myself included). With the arcade racer/crash simulator Burnout 3, EA had a smash hit (no pun intended) – commercially and critically. So to the surprise of no one, EA appears to be making the Burnout franchise an annual thing. But after playing a test demo of the series' latest incarnation, Burnout Revenge, it appears this isn't your everyday rehash. With Revenge, gamers will experience a vastly improved racing experience.
In the demo I tested, the game's single player racing mode was all that was available. For the most part, the game has the same overall look, yet the gameplay is much different. As the title indicates, it's all about revenge. The CPU AI is much more competitive this time around. Instead of trying to pass the competition and simply smash them into walls, you now need to be aware that your opponents are trying to do the same thing. Making things even harder, the course I played appeared to be designed with destruction in mind (easily the best Burnout level I have played). At first, it's all very intimidating because you can have a handful of cars trying to wreck you at once. What changes things, however, is the new in race "Crashbreakers" and the ability to drive through opposing traffic.
As you might recall with Burnout 3's Crash Mode, the Crashbreaker allows you to blow up your car and then direct the path of your cars onsuing demolition. With this now available in race modes, if an opposing racer totals your car, you can quickly use the Crashbreaker to seek your own revenge. Like its predecessor, you can slow things down to cause more chaos. The more chaos caused, the more boost power you earn.
Speaking of boost power, the way in which you use it in the game is significantly changed. In Revenge, gamers can now smash through the regular traffic in the game when using the boost. Not only is this key in avoiding your competition, but it also works as a deadly attack. If a car is driving at you, you can ram it into your competition to take them out. And if you're dealing with something like an 18-wheeler carrying logs, well, you can imagine the wreck that will ensue.
While the game's other playable modes were not available, the demo video indicates improvements and additions. For Crash Mode, the demo explains it as being "golf with cars." Perhaps this means linking multiple crashes together to get to one objective (like taking several different shots in golf). The demo also shows a new "Traffic Mode," in which you attempt to cause as much havoc with the regular traffic as possible. Both new modes look intriguing, and the good news is, we don't have to wait too long to find out. Burnout Revenge is slated for an early September release.