Burnout Legends Review

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Graphics: 9.0
Sound : 9.0
Gameplay : 9.5
Multiplayer : 9.0
Overall : 9.3
Review by Andy Levine
The PSP has already received a handful of great racing titles, games such as Ridge Racer and Wipeout Pure, but, despite the competition, EA has still managed to develop the greatest handheld driving game in the form of Burnout Legends. Legends incorporates an extraordinary blend of elements from earlier console versions of Burnout to deliver the fast-paced action and devastating wrecks that gamers are destined to fall in love with—all over again. Considering the PSP’s somewhat limited hardware capabilities in comparison to current home consoles, Burnout Legends is simply a fantastic game that everyone should consider purchasing.

The single-player portion of Legends sports all of the intense bumper-to-bumper race modes seen on the console iterations. The World Tour is the central driving campaign in Legends and here the player begins with several slow, compact vehicles on a quest to unlock the mighty super cars. The new layout initially breaks cars down by class and then by location, making it easier to find whichever race you desire. The beginner’s car class league consists of a handful of underpowered rides, which will allow players to grow accustomed to specific driving physics, but the unparalleled sense of speed garnered from better cars must be unlocked by obtaining gold medals.

The map has been divided between the Tour and Crash categories. While the Crash section consists only of crash races, the World Tour is made up of a variety of takedown, pursuit, and high-speed race events. While the generic race modes are enough to leave you swerving between highway barriers to avoid traffic and rival cars, there are also a few objective-based modes that aren’t always at the behest of speed. For instance, Pursuit mode seats the driver in a cop car and gives him a set amount of time in which to completely obliterate an opposing vehicle. Another mode takes place on circuit courses, but instead of trying to gain the fastest time your goal is to destroy a certain number of cars without being totaled yourself. Of course, a driving game would be nothing without the prerequisite circuit and time-trial modes, and even here Legends manages to distinguish itself from the crowd through its addictive gameplay style.

Each car class in the World Tour contains a grand prix tournament, and if victory is achieved then the next car class becomes available. In order to unlock new cars, not only do gold medals need attaining, but there are also certain feats that must be accomplished—which can only be earned by racing skillfully. Driving points can be gathered by catching air, drifting, and by destroying rivals in any way imaginable. Certain signature takedowns can be accomplished by utilizing the environment to wreck opponents. After the race, a picture of the takedown will be saved in the gallery so you can visually reminisce about your most magnificent collisions. Special assassin cars also become available for your fender-bending pleasure every time a new benchmark of damage is reached in the crash mode. Burnout Legends has a strong foundation that certainly helps make the entire gameplay experience much more enjoyable.

Burnout Legends flawlessly manages to deliver the fast-paced arcade racing style of gameplay to the PSP and, instead of being punished for trading paint with other racers, Legends actively rewards gamers for driving like maniacs. Burnout is all about wreaking havoc with style and speed, so performing stunts such as barely colliding with oncoming traffic and shunting a rival’s rear bumper will earn you some ‘boost’. Boost offers a substantial gain of speed and is essential if you want to keep up with the competition—so it’s always a good idea to slam someone into an oncoming bus if you’re running low. The crashbreaker feature allows the gamer to control their car during an accident, and having your mangled ride hit another will result in an aftertouch takedown, so crashing isn’t all that bad.

The driving physics in Legends allow for easy enjoyment whether players are newcomers or veterans to the series. Those unfamiliar with the Burnout franchise will instantly be on the edge of their seats as the game world rushes past, while the more experienced players can happily throw together lengthy drifts and multiple-car pileups. One of the best features within Legends is that you can still suffer crashes without being in danger of losing the race. Instead of having to constantly worry about a fatal car crash that could destroy your chances of victory, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with getting in a few fender benders while you’re boosting along at speeds exceeding 200MPH.

There are a total of 175 events to partake in throughout the American, European, and Far Eastern environments. The same race courses are constantly being revisited in each car class, so you are bound to come across familiar levels over and over again. The crash levels, filled with ramps, power-ups, and money pickups, feel fresh no matter how many times you play them. Once enough cars have been incapacitated, the crashbreaker attribute can be activated to turn your ride into an explosive fireball, inflicting further damage upon surrounding vehicles. Crashing into a single bus can sometimes be enough to invoke a massive chain reaction—resulting in millions of dollars worth of damage. No matter which game mode you decide to play, you can be sure that the high-speed thrills are always presented with a smooth frame rate, making the sense of speed much more enthralling. Simply put, Burnout Legends’ addictive gameplay will leave your heart pounding as your scream around every corner, and your teeth grinding through each massive collision.

Aside from delivering the PSP’s best driving experience, Burnout Legends also portrays top-notch presentation value. The car models are all extremely detailed and, as a race progresses and contact mounts, windshields crack, bumpers fly off, and—best of all—showers of sparks fly. While the particle effects have been slightly simplified in consideration of the PSP hardware, one can’t help but feel a genuine sense of awe while witnessing a car flipping through the air into oncoming traffic. The environments are also rich in detail, ranging from the cobblestone streets of Italy to the snowy and winding roads of the Alps. Hundreds of secondary environmental objects have also been included for further interaction, in order to allow some of the more ‘creative’ gamers to wreak complete havoc on their racing foes. The game’s sound effects are also noteworthy because the more important noises really grab your attention aurally. From the shrieks of onrushing traffic frantically sounding their horns, to the glassy explosions of shattering windshields, it’s easy to hear that considerable effort was put into making every sound effect as precise and tangible as possible. In addition, a fully licensed soundtrack consisting of 21 songs helps intensify the already fast-paced action. While there is still certainly room for improvement, Burnout Legends hands down offers the best usage of the PSP’s hardware.

Although an online mode isn’t supported, Burnout Legends can still be played locally via the ad hoc mode. Up to 6 players can participate in the same events found in the single-player mode, and there is also a two-player double-impact crash mode. Tournaments can be set up for some intense wireless play, but it’s still fun to try out a two-player pursuit if you can’t get a bunch of gamers on the same wireless network. Burnout Legends does manage to offer up a solid multiplayer experience, and although there isn’t a whole lot of new stuff on show in that respect, it’s still thoroughly satisfying to burn up the streets with some friends.

Without a doubt, Burnout Legends is a must for any self-respecting PSP owner. The best aspects of the first three Burnout titles have been combined to create the handheld masterpiece that is Legends. Even if you’re not an avid fan of the genre, Legends’ intuitive gameplay offers challenge right from the start and expands on an in-depth adventure throughout the vast racing world. The maturing PSP has already garnered some impressive racing examples, but Burnout Legends is definitely the genre title that anyone with a pulse will enjoy.