Imagine a driving game where you're constantly driving on a knife edge, always weaving in and out of oncoming traffic and actually receiving bonuses for doing so. Well that's exactly what happens in Burnout and it offers a unique and highly enjoyable driving experience.
In it's simplest form Burnout involves you taking control of a car, racing against three opponents on roads (not race tracks) and attempting to finish first. In case you think that just three opponents is all too easy well think again. The skills you have to develop in Burnout are weaving through the traffic without getting obstructed or slowed down via a crash. Weaving through the traffic is difficult and requires skill. If there were more opponents you would simply never win. For at least the first half dozen races you compete in, you are likely to finish last, third if you do well.
The beauty of Burnout though is that your AI opponents are not the perfect drivers that you find in some games. They make mistakes in an almost human fashion. It really is a delight to see the AI opponent in front of you attempt to weave through the oncoming traffic and make a horrible mess of it. The AI is capable of some excellent driving but it means a lot to know that it doesn't cheat and provides excellent but fair competition.
You don't have to drive through the oncoming traffic, you can just remain on your side of the road. However there are advantages in daring to drive through the oncoming traffic. Certain driving acts are richly rewarded in Burnout. If you powerslide, narrowly miss other cars or drive through oncoming traffic the boost meter will fill up. This boost meter, once filled, also you to activate a turbo boost feature that will rocket your speed temporarily. Filling up your boost meter is essential if you intend to win the more difficult races.
Burnout contains various modes of play. The most important mode is Championship mode. In championship mode you are given a set target. The first championship you'll take part in requires you to finish third in each race. You are given three credits. If you fail to achieve your set goal then you will lose a credit and you will have to do the race again. It's game over if you lose all three. When you first play Burnout there is only a handful of cars and tracks available. Success in the Championship mode will unlock more cars and tracks as well as two extra modes. There is also a single race option, a head to head option for you to compete against a fellow human and a time trial mode. Once unlocked in the Championship mode you will also have access to the Face Off mode and the Survival mode. The Face Off races see you against one AI opponent with victory unlocking an additional car. Survival mode is instant death, one crash and you're out of the race.
Graphically Burnout is fantastic. The vehicles all have wonderful damage models and the crash replays are worth seeing over and over again. At the end of each race you get to do just that and this makes for good entertainment. The amazing thing about the game engine is that with all the detailed vehicles and scenery that is on display the frame rate does not suffer and remains scorchingly high.
The game is absolutely fine for deaf gamers. There are some verbal instructions but all of these are given in text. The text used throughout the game is very clear and can be read with the greatest of ease. The game manual is short but clear and provides all the information that you need.
The only thing I can say against Burnout is that I wasn't too happy with the default control setup. By default you use the A button to accelerate and the B button to brake. For me this proved unsuitable. Thankfully the designers realised that some gamers might want a different configuration and with the right trigger and left trigger assigned to accelerate and brake the whole thing felt completely natural to me.
Burnout is arcade racing like it was meant to be. Fast, furious and engrossing with a superb control system, great graphics and a constantly flat out frame rate. For four wheeled action on the GameCube you can't buy a better title than Burnout.
Overall Game Rating: 9.0/10 Burnout is a tremendous first title for racing fans to own on their GameCube. A blistering frame rate coupled with an original concept make Burnout a must own title.
Deaf Gamers comment: The few vocal instructions, such as 3,2,1, go, at the beginning of a race are all provided in text. All the details are given in a very clear text. Burnout is absolutely fine for deaf gamers.