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Burnout Legends

Burnout

I was pulled over once. In my town, at the intersection of two roads, a giant bump exists. If you hit this bump at about thirty miles-per-hour, you get a weird feeling in your belly. When you hit it at fifty mph, your car goes into the air a little bit. I don’t know what happens when you hit it at seventy-five mph because when I was trying to get up to speed I got pulled over by the man. He clocked me at fifty mph in a thirty mph zone. Now, I don’t ever speed down that road.


Even the cops have started modding their wheels.

Thankfully, video games like Burnout exist that let me get all the mad air I want, plus I can slam into cars when they get too close and send them flying into the air (something I’ve always wanted to try while driving when someone cuts me off). Now, the Burnout series has finally gone portable with the release of Burnout Legends on the PSP. And while the game isn’t any different than the console versions that have been out for years, it’s still quite enjoyable and certainly a worthy investment if you’ve never played the games before.


It’s Grease Lightning!

Burnout Legends is all about high speed, risky driving. While you race, you’re rewarded with “boost” for making risky moves like driving on the wrong side of the road and weaving perilously close to other drivers. However, a majority of the boost you will earn will be earned by sending other cars flying into guard rails, pillars and other cars. Boost allows you to go a lot faster and is critical to winning races. While Burnout Legends is a racing game, a majority of the modes emphasize crashing over actual racing. This is a refreshing change considering the dominance of Gran Turismo and Forza style racing games that promote realism at the expense of fun and happiness.


Now the New York Police are getting in on the act.

This isn’t to imply that the racing in this game isn’t serious. You’ll find a considerable challenge in Burnout Legends, which includes tracks from the first three Burnout games to race on. Not only will you have to compete with a strong field of competition controlled by some excellent, prsistant, and intelligent AI, but you’ll also have to contend with traffic considering that all the races take place on city streets. If you’ve played the console versions of the games, you’ll notice that the traffic is lighter, but it still plays an important role. Primarily, racing takes place in the World Tour Mode, which consists of dozens and dozens of races taking place in fictional Asian, European, and American cities. You’re not going to recognize any familiar structures, but the architecture and design of the tracks are varied enough that you’ll know the difference between an American track and an Asian track without too much effort. Most of these tracks are cleverly designed with a decent amount of variation which is important considering how many races you’ll go through.

But, like I said before, there is a heavy emphasis on crashing in this game. An entire mode, Crash Mode, is dedicated solely to crashing your vehicles into giant intersections, rotaries, and busy city streets. The ultimate goal is to create the largest, most destructive crash you possibly can. I spent a lot more of my time in this mode (which also has its own separate World Tour mode that’s just as expansive as the racing version) than I admittedly did in the racing mode because it’s just plain fun to blow up other cars. Flinging yourself in front of a bus and triggering an impressive explosion that blows up four or five other cars and sends them hurtling into the air is funny and entertaining the tenth, the twentieth, and the fiftieth time you do it. Surprisingly, there’s a lot of strategy in this mode (positioning your car, timing your impact), which is probably why it remains so entertaining.


Left a bit… bit more…

There are other modes too, like Road Rage mode, which challenges you to take down as many opponent cars while racing on traditional tracks and Pursuit mode, which has been brought back after its absence in Burnout 3: Takedown. Obviously, you play as a cop and you have to chase down a criminal in this one, which is alright but it isn’t all that different from Road Rage so it doesn’t feel quite as fresh.

Burnout Legends suffers graphically because Ridge Racer, Wipeout Pure, and Midnight Club 3 have all been released on the PSP before it, so it has a lot of competition. There are some problems with blurring and in general it just doesn’t look as smooth as other racers, especially Ridge Racer, which seems to have a much better sense of speed. It’s really a shame that it doesn’t, but I imagine the developers had to make concessions given all the tracks and cars that are included in the game, plus the damage modeling. The traditional EA collection of pop music that really isn’t good is included with the game but thankfully all the music is overpowered by engine and crunching sounds.


Two Grease Lightnings?

Burnout Legends is a pretty good purchase if you’re a PSP owner. It’s not the best racing game on the system (a title I still contend is held by Ridge Racer), but it is probably the one that’s going to keep you entertained the longest. Crashing cars into traffic never gets old and the actual racing, which is often understated in reviews of this game, actually is pretty tight. It’s certainly a lot better than Rengoku…

8 out of 10

The author of this fine article

is an Associate Editor at Thunderbolt, having joined in February 2003.

Gentle persuasion

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