Showing its age, but still crashtastic!
First of all, I apologise for using the phrase 'crashtastic' - I promise I'll never type it again. Now onto Burnout!
Most of the reviews on MobyGames of this game are a little too harsh. Yes, its a bit old now, yes, the tracks are a bit long and dull and yes, there aren't any licensed vehicles, but really, lets look at the positives here!
Burnout is a racer that simply reeks of arcade wholesome goodness, and was the closest PS2 gamers could get to Outrun 2 arcade perfection upon release. The handling is fine if a little simplistic, and range of cars is big enough. The tracks are fine, the music is nice, and its no eyesore. So far, so ho hum. But then you slip up and hit a vehicle...
The crashes are quite superb, with lots of debris, smashing and kinetic movement that was incredible at the time and still impresses now. It even lets you save crashes and tots up a total damage stat with which to chastise you with at the end of the game, so you can feel secretly proud of yourself.
The other cool thing is your Burnout bar. Fill it up by doing near misses (like Crazy Taxi's but you need to be a lot closer!), by driving on the wrong side of the road or by drifting. When its full, simply hold R1 to engage an eyebleeding (at the time) turbo that makes you feel just too cool - til the eventual crash. Hold on to a Burnout without crashing while staying on the wrong side of the road to get another lot straight away! The first time this happens you'll feel fantastic - this is a game that satisfies those primal urges.
The crashing and turbos create a game that is perfect for multiplayer action as well, although its a shame that only two can dodge traffic at once.
Really, the game now is showing its age, especially compared to series highlight Burnout 2. It just isn't quite OTT enough, and the game engine and handling seem massively outdated now. Even the crashes are nothing compared to the stunning debris of Burnout 2 or crazy physics of Burnout 3.I know its rude to compare, but really you shouldn't buy this game now unless you want to catch a little piece of racing history (and this game revitalised the arcade genre in the face of nothing but po-faced Gran Turismos).
Also, the initial selection of tracks and cars isn't really good enough, and the rather modest single player is damp squib, with frustrating races that soon prove too much and checkpoints that end your race after a bit of bad luck - unfair!
The Bottom Line
Really, this game, while still fun, has been bettered by others and this makes it now an unwise purchase. Go buy one of the later titles in the series, particularly the sublime second one. But unless you want to see where a classic series began, as a purchase now this piece of the past just doesn't make sense.