Screeching metal, fiery explosions, and quadruple flips are part and parcel of the automobile-based carnage that Burnout fans around the world have grown to love. Until recently, the series had been confined to consoles. Burnout: Legends for the PSP brings the vaunted franchise to a handheld machine for the first time, and with it, the hopes and dreams of bad drivers everywhere.
Something old, something new
Burnout: Legends is really 2 games in one – one concentrates on various types of racing while the other focuses on crashing. Thankfully, absolute destruction is embedded in both. As its name would imply, Legends uses tracks and cars from almost all of the earlier games in the series.
The real crux of the game is the Career mode, in which the driver moves through different series of cars in a quest to obtain gold medals. All sorts of races are available – standard multi-car jaunts, head-to-heads, timed point-to-point single car runs, and rampages. Of them, rampages are typically the most fun, if for no other reason than it's terribly amusing to have the sole point of a race be smashing into your enemies to cause fiery wrecks. The timed races (called "Burning Laps") can be maddening, since several of them require virtual perfection to achieve gold medals. Repeated attempts are usually necessary to learn the tracks and handle the cars well enough to avoid crashes and achieve the gold-medal time. Head-to-head matches – if you win - will grant you the defeated racer's car (always satisfying!).
No matter the race type, winning a medal will open up new races and can unlock cars and series. The game will also track your takedowns and driving points (the slicker you are behind the wheel, the more you get). Along the way, milestones in both will give you new cars as well. Medaling in each race in a series will allow a new one to open up, starting at coupes and ending at super cars.
Claims adjusters, look away
Ask any Burnout fan of their most memorable experiences, though, and it will likely involve the beloved Crash mode. Provided you can find it (it's strangely almost hidden from the menu!), it makes it your goal to cause as much vehicular damage to a busy intersection of innocent drivers. Assuming you can get past the moral dilemmas it produces, it's quickly a satisfying experience to drive headlong into rush hour traffic. Luckily (or, for you twisted souls out there, sadly) no drivers come flying out of the cars that you cause to be totaled, nor do any ambulances show up to assess the body count.
The graphical prowess on display is impressive indeed for a handheld machine. Races and crashes look and feel like their console brethren – spot on. The "Aftertouch" slow motion post-crash effect made is included, allowing you to take out other racers while your car is flipping over for the seventh time. While there are some occasional visual glitches (most notably in Crash mode), for the most part it's tough to argue with the way that Legends looks. Remarkably, even though the races move at hyper speed – especially when you get to the higher-end vehicles - it's not that often that you'll be unable to spot traffic ahead or miss a turn.