Burnout 2: Point of Impact Review


There's just something strangely alluring about street racing.  Perhaps it appeals to the part of you that has always wanted to bypass a traffic jam by taking off down the wrong side of the road.  Or maybe its the constantly changing obstacles appearing on the track in the form of moving cars, busses, and trucks.  Since the sport is both highly illegal and highly dangerous, it's good that video games provide us with an opportunity to give in to our urges by letting us race through city streets at 100 mph, and one of the best games to let you do this is Burnout 2.  Burnout 2 may be missing licensed cars and realistic handling (and, thankfully, smack-talking competitors), but it more than makes up for it in excitement and with arguably one of the best crash physics engine ever built into a video game.

Screenshots
Weaving through traffic.

When you first play Burnout 2, you are required to play through a few short training runs that are collectively known as Offensive Driving School.  These training levels are actually good at introducing you to the unique features of the game while sparing you the boring "this is how you turn" lessons found in many driving games.  Burnout 2 rewards you for taking risks by filling a boost meter.  When the meter is full you can use it for a sustained turbo boost to your speed.  The Offensive Driving Skill gives you the chance to try out each of the maneuvers that awards boost so you'll be able to utilize them in your first race.  These include driving on the wrong side of the road, near-misses with traffic, jump distance, and drift around corners. 

Once you complete the Offensive Driving School you are ready to begin the Championship Mode.  Championship mode is a series of different races and challenges.  Complete one and you'll unlock the next in the series, and maybe a new car or track as well.  Burnout 2 does a good job of providing a variety of challenges in this mode.  You get individual races where you must beat a single competitor and multiple track circuits against three other opponents where you must accumulate the most total points based on your finish in each race.  You also get pursuit races that challenge you to catch another car and knock it off the road.  You even get to do this while driving a police cruiser!

The levels take place on 30 different courses in a variety of settings.  You'll get to race through urban environments, an airport, snowy mountains, Interstates, and coastal roads, to name a few.  Even more variety is added by time of day and weather affects such as rainstorms and snow.  And, of course, there's always traffic to contend with.

The traffic in the game is modeled pretty realistically.  You get a large number of different vehicles from compacts all the way up to semis.  Traffic flows on both sides of the road, takes onramps and exits, and crosses the road at intersections.  Another realistic touch is that the density of the traffic is not constant.  You'll find both impacted intersections and open stretches of road as you race.  The traffic also behaves realistically, swerving to avoid your car and dodging and braking to avoid accidents.  When you see how spectacular the crashes in Burnout 2 can be, you'll understand why the other cars go out of their way to avoid them.