Burnout 2: Point of Impact Review

Racing fans come in two varieties: sim fans and arcade fans.  Burnout 2 is a blast to play and is sure to please the arcade racing crowd.  In fact, it can be so much fun at times that sim racers would do well to look beyond their prejudices and take Burnout 2 for a spin.  A variety of courses and race types run through traffic-filled streets would be enough to make Burnout 2 a recommended racer.  When you add in the game's very addicting Crash Mode though, you get a must buy for both casual and hardcore racing fans.

Burnout 2 takes place on the streets of a fictional city that provides a large variety of racing circuits,  You get coastal byways, super highways, urban grids, and mountain roads to name a few.  You're also not alone.  In addition to the other racers, the city streets are filled with traffic of all sorts. Cars, SUVs, trucks, busses, big rigs, and more will make for a crowded track and some wild seat of your pants driving.  The traffic is more than a bunch of mindless drones and obstacles.  The vehicles behave realistically, including stopping at traffic signals, swerving to avoid your car, and hitting the brakes to avoid collisions.

Speaking of collisions, the vehicles in the game don't always succeed in missing each other (or you).  When accidents do happen, they are often spectacular and sometimes mesmerizing to watch thanks to one of the best physics engines to yet appear in a racing game.  You'll see cars spin out, flip, roll, and smash the heck out of each other in impressive, and quite realistic, wrecks.  Speed, angle of impact, and momentum are all factors in how an accident plays out, so no two accidents are ever alike. 

Screenshots
A rare stretch of open roadway.

While you'll want to avoid accidents while racing, the game provides incentives to get you to cut things close.  You're provided with a boost meter that when filled can be used to give you an extreme burst of speed, and to fill it you'll have to drive daringly.  The boost meter is filled as you drive down the wrong side of the road, pass closely to other cars, catch air, and skid around corners.  The more daringly you drive, the more boost you earn.  The game will also keep track of your exploits in a number of categories such as longest run on the wrong side of the road and biggest jump to encourage you to push the envelope to break a few records.

The game's main mode of play is its Championship Mode.  In this mode you must make your way through a series of challenges which include single races, multi-race circuits, and pursuits.  Completing a challenge unlocks the next in the sequence and sometimes unlocks new cars to drive as well.  The circuits award you points for finishing in the top three spots in a race, and require you to finish among the top three point winners after all the races are run to win the challenge.  The pursuit challenges put you behind the wheel of a police cruiser and give you a set period of time in which to catch a speeding car.  Of course you'll need to avoid all of the other traffic while chasing down your quarry. 

When racing in Championship mode crashes won't end your race.  Your car will be replaced and you'll be racing again even after the most spectacular of wrecks, but crashing will cost you some time so you'll need to avoid collisions if you want to be one of the top finishers.  This would be a shame because you'd be deprived of seeing the game's great crash engine at work.  I say "would be' because the game gives you a chance to unleash your appetite for destruction in its excellent Crash Mode.