Review: Burnout 2: Point of Impact (Playstation 2)

In this review, we crash into the racing game Burnout 2: Point of Impact. We find out how this Playstation 2 sequel plays.

This game was released in 2002 and is the sequel to the game Burnout. The prequel got a positive score.

This game, as far as single player is concerned, starts off with only one mode available: Offensive Driving 101. It basically tells you the various maneuvers in this game: near miss, drifting, using a boost, etc. If you pass all of these learning courses, then the game opens up with several more modes.

First, though, this game carries through a lot of the features found in the previous game. The first feature is the active roads that weave throughout the city. These roads feature traffic lights, beach fronts, various kinds of intersections, bridges, tunnels, bumps, and a whole lot more. Probably the most common obstacle you’ll encounter are other users of the road. Being able to steer around these other commuters is critical to your success. If you hit one too hard (more than a scrape, really), then you’ll crash. If you crash, you’ll get treated to the site of parts of your car flying off as your car rolls around, flies through the air, or however else you managed to crash. After your car more or less comes to a complete stop, the accident will disappear with a dip to white before a replacement car reappears on the road so you can continue. Crashing is obviously not without a penalty as you can lose around 3-5 seconds in your position in the race. You’ll also start at a slow pace, so you’ll have to get back up to speed. Contrary to what some sources say, you don’t lose all of your boost if you crash. You lose a chunk of your boost and, if your meter is low enough, you can lose what little you have left.

Along the way, you’ll encounter checkpoints. As a general rule, checkpoints will replenish your time all the way up to close to the in-game cap of 99 seconds. As a general rule, though, the time limit hardly plays a role in this game as you’ll be hard pressed to run out of time if you are trying to win. In fact, it’s barely a feature, really.

Some courses are simply have a start and a finish line. Most, however, are circuit courses and you’ll have to complete somewhere between 2 to 5 laps to complete the race.

Probably the most important feature in the race is a carry over from the last game: the boost meter. You fill this meter by mostly doing risky driving. The quickest way to fill the boost meter when you start with nothing is typically driving down the wrong lane. The more distance you get, the more your meter fills. Another method that gets the meter filled is drifting. If you tap the break while turning, the car will start to skid. The meter will quickly fill. The longer the skid, the more your meter will fill. An additional way to fill the meter is to go airborne. The longer your car lifts off the ground, the more your meter will fill up. A method to get a small amount of boost is to perform a “near miss”. These misses will give you a small boost in your meter and is accomplished by driving very closely to regular commuter cars (opponents don’t count). If you touch the other car, the near miss won’t count, so precision driving is a definite must here. Finally, you can get a huge boost in your meter if you complete a “perfect lap”. This is, obviously, only for circuit races, but if you complete a lap, you’ll re-fill your boost meter (I’m assuming this fills it all the way up because I never had a perfect lap without it filling the meter).

Filling the meter is important because once you fill the boost meter all the way, you’ll be able to use your boost which can make your car accelerate faster and/or allow you to reach a slightly higher top speed (though the game makes it feel like your driving way faster!). If you disengage the boost at any time, your meter will go back to normal and you’ll have to fill what you used up before the boost becomes available once more. If you use up the entire boost meter, you’ll get what is called a “Burnout”. These burnouts will give you a bonus half a meter worth of boosts. They also count towards the total burnouts for the entire race (one of the many ways you can obtain a high score at the end of the race). While you are engaging your boost, you can do things like continuing to drive down the wrong side of the lane as if you are trying to accumulate more boost. If, while you are engaging the boost, that you earn what amounts to half a meter worth of boost while, well, boosting, you can obtain multiple burnouts. These are denoted by the Burnout X#. In these multiple burnouts, your boost will go all the way down to nothing, but automatically fill all the way back up again. Keep the boost held down and it’ll be as if you never ran out of boost (allowing you to use two meters worth of boost in one shot!). This can help a lot in accumulating burnouts and an even higher score.

Many races also operate on a medal basis. If you make an accomplishment (i.e. placing first in a race, you’ll win a gold medal. It is also possible to earn silver, bronze, and even nothing at all). So, your performance in a given race is definitely being tallied.

Once you complete Offensive Driving 101, you’ll unlock several modes. The first mode is Championship. The championship mode is the main meat and potatoes of this game.

Within this mode, you’ll actually encounter a number of different modes. The first mode is regular championship. This is a series of races in which you earn race points. Finish 1st and you get 3 points. 2nd place earns you 2 points and third place gives you 1 measly point. Finish dead last and you get nothing. If you finish all of the races and come out on top at the end of the championship, you’ll unlock the next championship. If you finish first in all of the races, you’ll also unlock other kinds of races along the way.

One kind of race is the Faceoff. If you are familiar with the original, this mode operates in the exact same fashion as the previous game. It is you against another racer. If you win, you’ll unlock that car you just raced against.

The second mode is pursuit. In this mode, like faceoff, you’ll also get the opportunity to unlock new cars. However, while you do go against a single opponent, your goal is to wreck the other car. You get to play a cop car (which does have the maximum top speed at least). The opponent will get a slight head start and you have to catch up and smash your car into the other car. For every hit, you’ll deduct one dot of life from your opponents life meter. Drain the meter before you reach the end of the race and you’ll win. If your opponent crosses the finish line before you take ’em out, then you lose the race and your opponent will have “gotten away”.

A third mode is basically a single race. It’s just one race (often one wit a beginning and an end and not a circuit race) and your job is to win in that race. In the process, you can unlock hidden tracks.

In total, there are 15 races and their reverse counterparts (totaling 30 races).

If you complete this championship, then you’ll unlock a race called the Custom Series qualifier. In this race, you’ll find yourself in a race just like faceoff, only you are racing against a custom series opponent car. If you win this race, then you’ll unlock the Custom Series Championship.

The Custom Series Championship is just like the regular championship, only with more difficult races, more difficult opponents, and only pursuit races (no single races or faceoffs). While you can unlock additional cars in this mode, the ultimate goal is to complete all of the championships because you’ll basically beat the game if you do.

By the time you beat the Custom Series Championship, you’ll have also unlocked a number of other single player modes.

One of these modes is the Single Race. It’s pretty much exactly what is says on the tin: pick a race, pick a car, and the game will determine appropriate opponents. You don’t get anything in this mode, but you can practice the races anyway.

Time Attack mode is just you racing against the clock.

Crash mode is often cited by some as what really made this game worth playing. You have a particular intersection packed full of fast moving cars. Your job is to crash your car in such a way that it causes maximum damage in dollar value. The higher the bill, the better you do. This version also features a gold/silver/bronze award for reaching certain damage levels. You get 3 tracks, but if you medal in all three, you’ll unlock 3 additional tracks and keep going until you unlock all of the crash mode tracks.

Finally, there’s Pursuit. This pits you against a computer player. The goal is to, once again, drain the opponents energy down to nothing. The only difference between this specific mode and the pursuit mode in the Championship mode is the fact that you can pick any track, any opponent and pick whatever car you get to be. Again, you don’t unlock anything with this mode, but you can mess with the settings a bit in this game.

One feature in this game to note is the end-game stats. In a regular racing mode game where you have 4 opponents, you can earn your way onto the leaderboard in a number of ways. Two ways is the classic fastest lap and fastest overall time. Other ways are accumulating the most points or causing the most damage in the race, causing the most damage in a single crash. You can also get on the leaderboard in the most skilled drivers section. This includes the most drifting, the most distance in an oncoming lane, the most burnouts, or even the most amount of airtime you’ve achieved during the race. While getting your name on these boards can be a nifty experience, you don’t actually earn anything for these achievements besides getting your name on there. Still a fun thing to try though.

One thing I noticed after a while playing this game is the fact that traffic has a lot of scripted moments (if not, it’s completely scripted). Once you’ve figured this out, you can accurately start memorizing vehicle positions in the road at critical areas. For instance, if you round a certain corner to get to another intersection, you might realize that there’s always two buses approaching that intersection. So, on every lap, you can pinpoint precisely how you want to hit that corner without hitting the busses (and even see about getting a near miss bonus if you’re gutsy enough). While this game has a lot of scripting going on, these scripts will change depending on which race you are on. If you, for instance, realize that a certain car always passes through at a certain intersection, you can take advantage of this knowledge, but if you encounter this intersection in a later race, there might not be anyone in this intersection now.

One thing I complained about in the previous game is the fact that some of the later game races depend almost exclusively on luck because various intersections are particularly busy. Your only hope was to just pass through when no one happens to be going through at the time or else you lose a lot of time. In this game, this problem has been largely fixed as there are far fewer intersections that depend on luck and depend much more on skill.

The difficulty curve seems a little off for me in this game, though. You start the game off and it’s actually quite easy. Early on, you also start obtaining semi-super cars with a maxed out stat or two. As a result, many of the mid-game races are also quite easy. It isn’t until the very end where things get truly challenging – to the point where it’s next to impossible. I thought this spike in difficulty towards the end was strange – particularly in the pursuit challenges during the custom championships. Sure you might knock out your opponent in the first one without too much hassle, but good luck getting those last two cars. You’ll be at it for a while even if you somehow pull off a victory. This is largely because the game starts stacking the odds against you. In earlier pursuits, it’s possible to just push the car into oncoming traffic for a fast win. It’s also possible to just pull ahead and allow your opponent to constantly rear-end you until they are dead. In the last few races, I’ve seen the opponent have full head-on collisions with busses only to just scrape around and keep going when a crash was obvious. Other times, you’ll realize that they have unlimited boost to always keep ahead of you. Opponents will also always get a speed boost after every hit, keeping them ahead no matter how much faster you are. In later pursuits, you’ll can also instantly crash while in front of your opponent for no apparent reason. You opponent crashes as well, but doesn’t even take damage when you respawn on the track after. As a result, the difficulty has that artificial difficulty. How is it possible for your opponent to be faster when you are driving at the in-game cap speed of 160MPH?

The additional modes really do extend the life of the game. Even after you beat the main game, you’ll still be able to play for a number of hours in the other modes. For some, specifically crash.

Generally speaking. This game was pretty solid. The difficulty curve towards the end was a strange thing to see. I would have liked to have seen a better representation of the main championship race tree instead of just a long horizontal list – especially since there are multiple race types throughout. Beyond that, I don’t really have a whole lot to complain about in this game.

The graphics were interesting. There was a lot of shining effects thrown into this game. The textures were half decent, but were largely hidden by the ghosting effects that were piled on. The camera in third person/chase mode may be sitting a bit too low. If you are cresting over a hill, it can be difficult to see what is ahead of you – especially if you are the cop car. The angle wasn’t bad, but I think if the camera could pedestal up a little while slightly tilting down further, this problem could be solved. The effects of car parts flying everywhere wasn’t bad. I think some of the parts normally would have crumpled up more than just remaining as one solid piece, but that’s really a minor nitpick.

The audio wasn’t bad. The music was generally pretty good, but when you are racing normally, it sits back in the background, becoming half muddled. It’s only when you hit the boost is the volume brought up and you can actually enjoy the music more. The sound effects were not bad though.

Overall, this wasn’t a bad game. Has solid controls, plenty of content and added modes, and carries over a lot of what made the original Burnout good while fixing some of the problems in the process. The game does have a rather late difficulty spike which made the later moments of the game odd, the follow camera was not sitting at the most optimal position, and the whole championship tree was displayed in one long horizontal list. Still, I think this game was definitely worth the play.

Overall
Furthest point in game: Beat all Championship and Custom Championship races except two races:
Pursuit 5: Down to 2 points of damage.
Pursuit 6: Down to 3 points of damage.

Crash: 4 silvers, 2 bronzes, rest gold.

General gameplay: 19/25
Replay value: 8/10
Graphics: 8/10
Audio: 3/5

Overall rating: 76%

Drew Wilson on Twitter: @icecube85 and Google+.

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