We loved Gran Turismo and all its little Gran Turismo offspring, but there occasionally came a point in the evening, usually after the fifth pint, when it all turned silly and people started driving the wrong way around the track, crashing into oncoming cars and causing carnage. Or attempting to cause carnage, because it was never possible to really damage the cars in Gran Turismo – the manufacturers wouldn’t have been too happy about that.
Enter Burnout 2. This game doesn’t feature any particular manufacturers’ cars (although the ‘muscle car’ does look like a cross between a TVR and a Dodge Viper and there’s a suspiciously Ferrari-looking sports car in there too) so there’s no problem with crashing. In fact, crashing is remarkably easy; you might almost think it was the aim of the game…
After a bit of a practice session, learning how to drive on the wrong side of the road and get the back end out around corners, you’re let loose in a race. The more dangerous your driving, and the closer you are to oncoming vehicles, the more your ‘boost’ gauge fills up. When it hits the maximum, you press the button and watch your speed double. At this point the game becomes ludicrously frantic as you weave in and out of cars, trucks and buses in an attempt to beat the computer-controlled drivers and avoid solid objects.
When you do crash, it’s spectacular. Thinking, naively, that the crash graphics were just an afterthought, we were impressed at the way body panels flew off, wheels span down the road and the whole car became a mangled mess. Wouldn’t it be interesting, we thought, to try a few more crashes, just to see what kind of damage we could inflict?
Obviously the developers had the same mentality (the sort that should really be strapped to a table and locked away for the safety of others) and have included a whole section dedicated purely to crashing into as many other vehicles as possible, with cash points awarded for style, number of vehicles involved and the amount of damage caused. It’s truly disgraceful, we decided after playing it for hours. And then we carried on playing it.
You could, if you wished, treat Burnout 2 as a proper racing game, doing your best to avoid crashes and racking up the championship scores to improve your car and track access. It’s certainly pretty enough graphically and the cars all handle in interesting ways. But that would be missing a large chunk of the point. There’s something ultimately satisfying about the crunch of expensive machinery hitting concrete, or other expensive machinery. And as with most such games, there are hidden extras and ‘locked’ tracks, so there’s plenty to hold the attention.