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Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Burnout Revenge Hands-On (Xbox 360)

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Burnout Revenge Hands-On (Xbox 360)

"It was supposed to be a press event to show off Criterion’s much anticipated Xbox FPS Black, and it was, but not before the team pulled out Burnout Revenge for a little test drive.

Everybody knows that Burnout Revenge is going to be great - the series absolutely rips on the last-gen Xbox - but just how good it will be remains a mystery that will unravel in March. After getting the low-down from Criterion mastermind Alex Ward, we can safely say that this is one racer you won’t want to miss on your shiny new Xbox 360.

We were able to get some hands-on time with Burnout Revenge as well, in of all places, Dolby Laboratory’s booth. Dolby was showcasing their patented technology with the help of the Burnout Revenge demo and a crankin’ Klipsch home theatre setup. We we’re only allowed to run through a regular race through a busy Asian thoroughfare, but the hectic racing action contained just enough air and fuel to ignite our desires to acquire the final…stat.

No-brainer graphics and audio

Criterion’s Alex Ward couldn’t stress enough during the Burnout Revenge demo that pining over great graphics and audio on next-gen hardware is silly. That's easy for him to say. His employer already has a reputation of making Xbox games look like the next-gen competition (the previous Burnout titles), and this rep is about to get monstrous with what Black is bringing to the hunt. We’re sure Alex would disapprove of us glowing about the visuals and audio in Burnout Revenge, but they’re just too damn juicy to ignore.

Let’s start with the sound. Even on a crowded and noisy show floor, the rumble of the subsonic engine of our fictitious make/model car was loud and clear, thanks in part to the great 5.1 system, and in a larger part to the audio programming. Criterion is quick to admit that publisher surrogate EA’s Need for Speed: Most Wanted has the best audio of any game on the market. This may sound like biased praise, but we can hardly argue with the chap. The staff working on Burnout Revenge appears to have taken notes from NFS, as there’s a certain tonal quality to the exhaust note that sounds strikingly familiar. You won’t hear sirens, or the insane police chatter from Most Wanted, but you will be inundated with the throaty howl of engines that actually seem capable of the 250+ miles an hour that Burnout sleds can achieve.

Explosions are also worth mentioning from our hands-on and demo time, as they come in a much more satisfying package in the Xbox 360 version. It didn’t take us long to go from checking to wrecking, so there were numerous instances to ignite an earth-shattering Crashbreaker. We actually enjoyed wrecking our whip, as the explosion of our ride was cleverly delayed and signaled with that odd sucking noise that seems to accompany every big explosion in every big action movie in history. Once the fuse was lit, the ride went up in a crescendo that grabbed everyone’s attention along the busy carpeted walkways of the Las Vegas Convention Center.

Also attention-grabbing were the visuals in Burnout Revenge. The suits out of the gaming loop couldn’t believe the level of detail in the crash scenes, and frankly, we couldn’t either. Expect much more stuff to fly off of your buggy when it gets wasted, and with much more overall detail. Particle effects have been enhanced, with more sparks than a Fourth of July parade, and camera angles have been tweaked to give the best view of the trauma as possible. We dug how our flipped-on-its-roof load had a bent axle and rim that spun awkwardly as the Crashbreaker scene ended." [more]

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