While the demo is only one race on one course, it does give a good sense of what direction the developers are taking with the game. First off, the racing action is even faster than before. When you've got full boost and you're blazing down the street at 185mph, it takes 100% of your focus to stay on the road. It's very rewarding to weave in and out of traffic, narrowly escaping an accident and then taking down a rival at top speed.
Speaking of rivals, the "revenge" factor is noticeable right off the bat. For starters, the A.I. for the other cars in the race has been improved and is now noticeably more aggressive. No longer do they passively drive next to you; they want you out of the race as badly as you want them out. If you do take another racer down, you can rest assured that they will make returning the favor a high priority. There are new ways to take down opponents this year; from running traffic into them to simply taking a jump and landing right on top of them. The latter is something you can do right near the start of the demo, and it's quite satisfying.
Crashbreakers are a little more effective this time around, but the camera still leaves it as mostly a matter of luck. Should you nail someone with a Crashbreaker, get a Takedown, or just drive dangerously (yet successfully) you'll be awarded points and a ranking at the end of the race. It doesn't do anything for you in the demo, but it will certainly play a big part in the way you progress through the full game.
As I mentioned in the E3 preview, the game looks spectacular – to the point that I thought it was running on an Xbox the first time I saw it. The car models are highly reflective, and they look more realistic this time around. Sparks, flames, and vehicle parts fly during crashes, adding to the mayhem on screen. There is some slowdown in one area of the demo, and while it's not terrible, it is noticeable. I also found that the in-car camera view, which is my preferred view, isn't very useful because you can't see what's on either side of you. I was constantly getting slammed into walls by the aggressive cpu because I couldn't see it.
Minor quibbles aside; Burnout Revenge is shaping up to be a great game. Slamming into traffic that has the nerve to get in your way is tremendously satisfying, and the smarter A.I. makes things a little tougher this time around. If you loved Burnout 3, you're going to love the sequel – there's no doubt about it.
8/18/2005 Aaron Thomas