Face melting speed in your hand!
When Burnout first arrived on the scene, it was like a bolt from the blue. Critereon had created something new and original which, most of all, was hugely entertaining to play. With its combination of high speed racing, risk and reward system and spectacular crashes it took the gaming world by storm. Of course this led to Burnout 2 and then 3 and so on. What made Burnout so different to other large games series was that it kept getting better. New features made each sequel feel somehow better than before. The graphics got sharper, the game play got tighter, the crashes became more impressive and so on.
Then came the power hand helds, the PSP and the DS. Critereon, now of course with EA, not one to miss a trick produced Burnout Legends for the hand held systems. A mishmash of previous Burnout games, legends brought the best (and a little of the worst) features of the series to the sweaty palms of gamers all over the globe. That was 2005.
Move on to 2007 and Burnout is still going strong. The latest release in the series is Dominator. For many this is seen as a stop gap between the last release (Takedown) and the upcoming next gen Burnout 5. However, as there has only been the one Burnout release on the PSP, for the handheld gamer this is a long overdue sequel!
Nothing will ever be so fast on the PSP!
For those who don’t know, the aim of Burnout, generally speaking, is to race around a track as fast as possible. Along the way you can earn ?Burnout? boosts (hence the name, clever huh?). These come in the form of a bar that gradually fills up the more risks you take in the race. For instance near misses or long drifts (power slides) will help build up your boost. The way this boost works has been one of the most changed aspects of the game. Originally it only worked once it was full. Then it could work when part full. Now it can be used once part full, but you only get the full burnout with bonus if you let it fill up completely, but more on that in a bit.
Burnout Legends was a top notch game on the PSP, but it did suffer from some frame rate issues. Well, Dominator has no such problems. This is as fast and smooth as you could hope for from a PS2 game, let alone the PSP! On top of that the graphics are incredible. The scenery is detailed (what you see of it as you hurtle past it!) with much more depth than previously seen. The car models look good, with enough detail to make them look like the cars they are trying to pretend not to be!
Speaking of the cars, there is a slight change here. There are now 7 series of cars to unlock; Classic, Factory, Tuned, Hot Rod, Super, Race Specials and Dominator. These all have a couple of cars in them. As you play and win events you will gain points. Once you get a certain number of points you will unlock the next series. Each series has faster cars than the last, with Dominator just being plain insane!
The tracks are a massive improvement on Legends. They seem to have more to them, with shortcuts and alternate routes in each. Some of these shortcuts can only be accessed by forcing another car to crash into the entrance to it. This ?Takedown? will then open the shortcut up forever.
Sounds are well catered for, with the sound track being an interesting mix of pop and rock (and Avril Lavigne). The engine sounds are good as are the rash sound effects!
As mentioned one of the big changes in game play is the way the burnout bar works. If you have not waited for the full burnout, then once you have used the nitro that is it, nothing you do during that boost will count towards the next boost. On the other hand, if you are patient and wait for the full Burnout, any risks you take will be added to the next boost. This enables you to string together Burnouts, in theory, for the entire race!
There are several kinds of racing events. Drift mode, near miss, burnout, eliminator, road rage and the new maniac. Eliminator basically removes the last racer every 20 seconds, fun but not as good as Road Rage. Here you have to just destroy your opponents! Make the crash as much as you can and reap the rewards. Maniac mode just has you breaking road laws for points! Now any burnout player reading this will notice that there is something missing. Something that made Burnout what it is. Something that actually got this reviewers wife playing burnout on the PS2! Crash. For some inexplicable reason they have taken it out! Now officially this is so that it can make a huge return in Burnout 5, but as there is no sign of a PSP version of this, who cares! In fact the lack of crash is why this game gets an 8 rather than a 9!!
On the plus side, EA have been very kind to PSP owner with not only the inclusion of 6 player ad-hoc modes, but also the availability of new, free downloadable maps! That’s right, new maps can be added for no charge. So far there are 2 up there, with a third being added in June.
For the most part, Dominator on the PSP is a must have. The lack of Crash and to some extent the lack of Traffic Attack modes let it down, but not enough to put you off! If you never owned Legends and you don’t have this on the PS2 then go out an buy it! Nothing will ever be so fast on the PSP!