No lead is safe. That is basically what should be considered the theme to Burnout 2: Point of Impact. Yes that could probably be applied to just about any racing game, but as crazy as Burnout 2 is, it’s especially applicable here. Criterion Games brought us what just may very well be the most entertaining arcade-style racing game for this generation. Anyone who is a gamer has tried at least one racing machine at their local arcade, so you should definitely know how those play out. Well, if Burnout 2 wasn’t on consoles, it would very easily fit into anyone’s local arcade. Not only does the game apply surprisingly realistic physics to its actual racing engine, it’s just darn fun to play.
But before we get into why the game is so fun to play, we’ll start with the impressive visuals. While the whole presentation is hardly perfect, it’s probably some of the best graphics we’ve ever seen with a racing game. Other franchises like Need For Speed and Gran Turismo pride themselves on having great graphics, and this one can easily join that group. All the vehicles look very good and your environments look truly spectacular. The builds of the car bodies are very impressive, as each one you have and eventually get all look unique and special in their own way. There are over 20 cars available to you once you unlock them, and the variety is very much there. The only slightly disappointing aspect of this is not all the cars can be changed regarding their color. Some vehicles like the Supercar only have one color template, and even though it always looks cool, it would’ve been nice to see something different every now and then.
Nevertheless, the cars definitely look great. The animation and special effects also compliment that nicely. Since all the cars look very realistic, how they move looks the same way. The stats of each car, which include acceleration, handling and top speed, very much affect how they move. If you choose a car with tight handling, you will have no problem keeping it straight and drifting around tighter turns. However, choose a looser car, and you will find yourself taking a lot of time getting used to the car being so sensitive. Nevertheless, while it all isn’t 100% realistic, it will seem that way for the most part. That’s one of the many reasons the game is so entertaining. It’s also cool to see how light bounces off your car during the rare times that it does, it gives the whole presentation that much more of an authentic feel.
Along with how realistically the cars move in terms of physics, their destruction is ever more the same. This game wasn’t given the subtitle Point of Impact for no reason. Pretty much at any given time during a race, if you hit another vehicle at even moderate speed, be prepared to see your ride turn into a scrap heap. But of course this is Burnout, so you will always be going as fast as possible. That means 170 mph or more depending on the car you end up using. So if you take a car going that fast and unintentionally (or not) smack into another vehicle, parts are going flying. To also vary the dramatic effects of your crashes, you can crash with anything from another regular car to a huge commercial bus or even a gas tanker. Then depending upon the angle in which the crash occurs, you may just see all your tires as well as the main parts of your car’s body go bye bye. So if you’ve ever wondered what a 20 vehicle pile up would look like in a videogame, here’s your chance.
Finally we have the actual environments that you will race through. Burnout 2 actually boasts a healthy number of different regions that also change due to climate. You will race through anything from suburban areas, to airport terminals and even a local freeway. No matter what it is too, you may end up racing in the rain or snow. Suburban areas are complimented with moderately busy streets, various common buildings and great looking trees. The airport terminals generally aren’t as dangerous, but the race area is far more claustrophobic since it actually emulates driving around an airport. Then of course the freeway is busting with vehicular activity, so you will have to be on your guard every nanosecond of the race, or you risk plowing or being plowed countless times. There are other such environments like a big mountain and more urban-driven areas, and the same is also applied there. Use your imagination.
So in the game itself, you have single races, Series Championships, Pursuit and Crash Mode. Single races are self-explanatory, you can choose to race any car you have available on any track you have available. Series Championships are the heat of this game, as they are how you unlock just about everything you get. Series can encompass anywhere from three to seven different tracks to race, and getting first place gold in each is far from easy. The first few championships shouldn’t be entirely difficult if you enjoy playing racing games, but it could take a while for those less familiar. Anyway, if you actually want to unlock all the cars and additional tracks, you must achieve gold in every race. The frustrating aspect about this is you can never pick and choose one leg of a series you may not have gotten gold in if you did with all the others. It’s all or nothing, meaning you have to get gold in each race no matter what to get all the unlockables for that series. So if you’re doing a six leg series, and you get golds in all of them but one, you must repeat the entire series and still get all golds at once to unlock everything. Doing so will unlock additional series, pursuit challenges as well as one-on-one vehicle races. The pursuit and one-on-one events are how you actually unlock the secret cars.
So how do each actually work? Well in series championships, you have three to seven legs like mentioned before. This will take you through the game’s many different tracks, and either normally or in reverse. You face three computer controlled players, and you have to beat them in order to get the trophy. You get three points for gold, two for silver and one point for bronze. But like explained before, you need all golds to unlock everything. Pursuits are rather unique, as you take control of the game’s one and only police car. In this, you will go after a car that you can unlock, and like the mode is named, you have to stop them in a pursuit. This requires that you chase them with the police car, and hit them ten times in a row. Now sometimes you can actually get lucky and win the event very quickly if you manage the difficult task of making your opponent crash into the back of another vehicle. But normally this takes one of the larger vehicles like a tanker or semi to make that happen. So generally you will have to do the ten hits to stop them. That in turn is what unlocks that particular vehicle. One-on-one races are self-explanatory as well. You race a secret vehicle head-to-head in one of the game’s many tracks, and if you win, you unlock it.
So how does racing cars actually work in Burnout 2? It’s really quite simple, and nothing entirely difficult either. If you use the standard control scheme, it will work like most other racing games this generation. The shoulder buttons, the analog stick and the A button will pretty much be all you use for this. The game is eloquently called Burnout for a reason, just like it is Point of Impact. At any given time during a race, no matter which mode, you have a Boost meter to fill. You do this a number of ways. Whether it’s having a near miss with traffic, driving on the side of oncoming traffic, catching air or drifting around a turn, it will fill your meter up. Once you do that and get the “Boost Ok” prompt on the screen, that is your cue to push and hold the A button whenever you wish. Now if you crash, you will lose part of that meter and will have to fill it back up again. But if you don’t, you may use the boost whenever you wish.
So when you feel inclined to do so, push and hold the A button to initiate the insane boost. This will come close to actually doubling your speed, and you will really get a sense of flying in your vehicle. When in a boost, you must be even more careful that you don’t smack into something, but you are treated to an incredible dramatic crashing display if you do. However, if you manage to use up the whole meter, and have done enough actions during the boost that would fill up your meter, you can chain Burnouts together. So yes, once you use up one full boost meter, you achieve a Burnout. It’s actually possible in the game to chain together more than ten Burnouts, given that you don’t crash at all and keep up with actions that would fill up your meter. That of course is no easy task at all, but if you manage to pull it off, you can easily impress your friends and even yourself.
All this in the game is complimented very well by some excellent music and sounds. The musical theme for the game itself is a sort of soft rock kind of atmosphere, and it works extremely well. The opening theme that comes on during the game’s start up is very catchy and memorable. You may very well find yourself bopping your head up and down because it sounds so rhythmic. The cars also sound very realistic too. The ones that have lower acceleration and top speed will probably sound like lemons to you. But the ones with the real hardcore stats will sound like beefed up muscle cars, and hearing that kind of horsepower through stereo is just awesome. Even more impressive is the sounds of your boosting and crashes. When you actually use your boost in the game, it can almost be compared to a jet engine because of how dramatic it sounds. The soft rock theme you also hear in the background when using a boost make the action even more exciting. But crashing is obviously the most adrenaline rushing sound to hear in the game. Whether it’s during an actual race or in Crash Mode, hearing 20 or more vehicles just smash into each other is nothing more satisfying. If you are having a stressful day and need a game to get those frustrations out, here is something perfect for you.
So what is this Crash Mode that has been mentioned so many times? Well quite honestly it’s the one aspect of the game that is really worth a full game purchase. But since the game isn’t published anymore, finding it used is your only option. But even then it’s a major bargain simply because of how much fun it really is. Crash Mode is once again pretty self-explanatory. There are numerous different regions that you can actually work with, as the Crash courses are merely comprised of smaller sections of tracks you’ve raced before. With each region/zone, your goal is to literally and on purpose, crash into any vehicle in such a way that you cause massive amounts of damage that results in several millions of dollars. If you’re really bad, you’re looking at around a half million in damages. But if you have that ever-so-desired monster crash, you’re looking at numbers close to $100 million in damages. This is especially possible in the zones that have a ton of commercial buses, as those boost up your damage total a great deal. So yes, the purpose of Crash Mode is just that, to crash into vehicles and purposely cause millions in damage. It’s ever so satisfying to hear every time, just as it is to simply play.
So with all this, how could the game possibly not have a ton of replay value? You can play with a single friend in single races and pursuits, and have up to four people play the Crash Mode. It’s actually rather convenient for Crash Mode too, as it only requires one controller that you just hand around to the other people depending on the order you’re going. But really, the sheer entertainment you’re likely to gain and feel while playing Burnout 2 is likely to cause hours upon hours worth of replayability. The series, while sometime frustrating, are very fun to go through and beat the living daylights out of your opponents. Pursuits are moderately fun, as you use a car of your choice to chase another, and you have to hit them ten times just like in single player ones. Then you have Crash Mode, which could never get boring, as there’s always a chance for you to break your own record. Not satisfied with that scrawny $10 million record? Go for $30 million or more. Depending on the vehicle you use and where you go, racking up the bigger totals isn’t really that difficult.
Burnout 2: Point of Impact definitely made an impact on this generation. It’s easily one of the best racing games for the GameCube if not the best in terms of overall enjoyment and replay value. Everything about the game is just awesome, which is what has made many other racing franchises like Rush and Gran Turismo just as enjoyable. If you need a stress relief game, get yourself this game and experience Crash Mode. It’s sad that Criterion was bought out by EA and we didn’t get the latest franchise iteration, but we still have this one to always go back to. The cars may not be officially licensed, but they might as well be, and using them however you choose is just plain fun. If you want a great racing game, crash yourself into Burnout 2.