The Burnout Revenge Problem

The Burnout series has long been a favorite of mine; I adore the destruction physics and the cinematic perspective on street racing always given. I’ve loved it since the still-arduous-to-play Burnout and to this day I enjoy Burnout Paradise over and over again.

But there remains on a near-perfect record of great games one giant tear, the worst game in the series: Burnout: Revenge. It’s a horrendous shame of a game, that I never actually got around to completing.  Why? Rigid structure and formulaic gameplay.

Every good sequel should add something necessary to the series. Burnout gave us its signature crash and destruction-based gameplay; Burnout 2 changed it from a Need For Speed rip-off into a game with its own signature attitude, making it an ironic ‘90s throwback.

Burnout 3 gave us a better boost system and the ‘takedown,’ or forcing an opponent into a wreck which everyone was doing anyways, making it forever a part of the lore. Paradise was kind enough to give us a free open world to drive in, but what did Revenge do? Nothing.

Yeah, sure, Revenge wasn’t exactly a bad game by any measure, in fact, compared to most of what comes out, it was quite good. The problem was that it had no ambition.

It was before Paradise so it went on the same race track progression system as Burnout 3, and it also had what is essentially the exact same gameplay. In fact, it was mostly just a graphical upgrade.

Every good sequel, every good game, needs something new. That could be a progression in the story, like in the Mass Effect series, or a cinematic feel to the first person firefight, like Fallout 3. Revenge gives us nothing more than the hope that the game will change in a few playthroughs.

Every sequel considered ‘good’ has always improved upon a good formula by making use of new advances in technology. Look at the advancement in Elder Scrolls: Oblivion to its successor Skyrim.  Both were released for the Xbox 360 and PC consoles. However, Skyrim took complaints from Oblivion — boring combat and too easy quests — and formed that into the basis for Skyrim, where combat was visceral and fun, with the classic Elder Scrolls open world.

There is a major problem of sequels adding little more than what was in the first game. I have bought very few of the games; the only one I really enjoyed was Fallout: New Vegas which I bought because I knew after Fallout 3 I’d want more Fallout than it had.

In order for an industry to advance, games have to evolve. Look at how games have changed over the years. A great example is the Deus Ex series.

Deus Ex is something that I think we can all agree is the greatest achievement in human history bar none. Then they made Invisible War, a sequel so incongruous to the quality of the predecessor, I sort of don’t want to talk about it.

What I want to talk about is Deus Ex: Human Revolution which was a prequel to the series that had released in August of 2011. At first glance, Human Revolution looks like a recreation of Deus Ex with more robot arms, better graphics, and art design that looks like Square Enix had seen their first school bus and said, “I wish the whole world looked like that.”

But when you dig deeper into what the game is, you find a winding, well-written story with genuinely fun gameplay mechanics and a strong lead character. You see an adaptation rather than a recreation.

Burnout: Revenge was merely an Xbox 360 port of Burnout 3 and consequently there’s no reason to buy it, or even be a part of it. Save yourself the trouble and play a good sequel instead.