A fantastic intense racing game bogged down by terribly cheap AI tricks.
Combining the best from Need For Speed and Destruction Derby, Burnout 2: Point of Impact really pleased me, especially since it goes for about twenty bucks now. It's an arcade racing game with heavy emphasis on insane crashing -- there's even a racing mode specifically made for crashing and getting high scores based on the amount of money you caused those involved! Races are very, very intense, very fast, and included are about thirty different courses and a plethora of cars to choose from.
Rather than placing you along a closed course like those other silly racing games, Burnout 2 places you in the middle of a busy freeway, residential streets, one-way tunnels -- in the wrong direction -- any kind of situation that puts innocent drivers at risk of being the next victim in some crazy race to the finish line. You gain "boost" points by pulling off stunts, such as catching air, nearly-hitting traffic, lengthy drifts, or just seeing how long you last driving in the oncoming lane. It provides you with a boost of speed that lasts for several seconds, or, well, until you blow it and cover the road with your car's (and all other cars' involved) guts. It's a hell of a better incentive than Kudos Points.
Unfortunately, while the game is great fun, it's almost completely ruined by the cheap AI in single player. They act like they're attached to your car by some invisible rubber band. If you're doing well, they're doing well. If you do poorly, they do poorly. Generally, if you're WAY out there in first place, it doesn't really matter how far you've gone, how good you're doing, the computer is always right behind you. And the same goes for last place. You can sit there in the starting area for thirty seconds and let the computer get a headstart and be able to catch up within two laps. And because of this crap, the only lap that really means anything to the game is the very last lap. It doesn't matter how well you've done the previous four laps -- it's that last lap that makes the difference. So it's especially frustrating when you're having the best race of your career, only to slip up inches behind the finish line and end up in last place, where, judging by the skills of the computer AI earlier in the race, you should have lapped them all by now! I can understand, and heck, even appreciate why they did this. It's to keep the race intense. To keep all the cars right next to each other increases the risk of a multi-car pileup. But when your objective is to race, to win, not just to crash, it's frustrating.
Also included is a "pursuit" mode (which would have been really awesome if you could have played as the escapee rather than the cop, but oh well) which gets more and more frustrating the farther into it you play. The object of this game is to "ram" the opponent about ten times before he reaches the finish line, but unfortunately for you, his car doesn't obey the same physics laws that yours does. In almost all situations, he cannot crash. He will just bump other cars out of his way (and right into yours usually), sometimes he will pull off impossible turns so that he stays in front of you and keeps the game "interesting". Funny thing: if he somehow gets behind you, you instantly crash.
I think the crash detection could be a little more sensitive in places, and less sensitive in others. A lot of times you can hit walls, cars, other things almost dead-on and just "slide" off like your car is covered in grease. Other times you'll barely -- or not even! -- nick an object and the camera will go into crash-cam and your car will slow to a stop...but no crash actually occurred.
And finally, another horrible design decision is that, in order to unlock the next car/course/whatever, you have to score a gold medal in a series of races in a row. So if you spend an hour getting gold, gold, gold, gold, gold, gold...and then get silver (because you made a mistake on that last lap) then the entire effort was for nothing. Oh, it was fun, sure, but you didn't get to unlock anything.
The Bottom Line
Despite the terrible "rubber-band" AI, this is one of the funnest racing games I've played. Multiplayer is a blast, even though the Gamecube version occasionally suffers from minor (almost not noticeable) framerate issues.
Tons of cars, game modes, and courses to unlock, this game just keeps bringing me back in for another go.