The video games market is beset with sequels: games that take the success of a previous game and increment the features, change the player names or append a higher number to the end of the title in order to justify another release, another snout-session in the money trough. Often these games are subjected to blatant feature tinkering: a tweak here, a dabble there, all in the interest of tricking some more money out of mug punters (you and me).
So, when a well established game franchise (as the marketing types like to call them) introduces a new version that significantly changes and enhances the game-play, it's time to sit up and take notice. Because, you know it's... it's all a gamble, when you take something gamers know and love, and change it fundamentally. Especially when that 'franchise' is Burnout
which, despite having fallen prey to the 'tinkering syndrome' described above, has always managed to come through with its head held high.
Most of you will be familiar with Burnout
, it's a city-streets racing game that differentiated itself from the others (at least initially... later many copied it) by giving you a boost bar that filled in response to you driving on the limit. You were rewarded for drifting (or skidding as it used to be called), near misses and driving into oncoming traffic. That is "traffic" as a collective noun for cars and trucks. You weren't rewarded in any way for head-on smashes into individual vehicles. If you had been, I'd be world Burnout
Once your boost bar was full you could use it to initiate a burnout: a sort of space-and-time warping nitrous-oxide boost, that saw everything stretch and blur; time dilated into one saturated smear of colour. Once in boost, even traffic going the same direction as you became a hazard - as you accelerated to speeds much faster than it could achieve, your relative velocity made it effectively a stationary obstacle. If you managed to use a whole boost bar in one burnout, it would refill and you could burn on. Adrenaline pumping stuff! Of course, burning through a whole boost bar, around bends and corners, over hilltops and into oncoming traffic most often ended up in a bone and metal crunching impact... and impacts were one of the things Burnout
In other games, real cars were licensed. Car manufacturers do not like to see their product bent and wrecked, in fact they treat it like a capital crime. While it's admirable to know the manufacturers have our safety at heart, I can't see why they'd have such a strange attitude when it's just a game. So, the developers at Criterion had handcuffs placed on their ability to crumple and deform those cars in crashes.
The chaps, however, cheekily 'stole' their car models. So, while the cars didn't carry the manufacturer and model names of real cars, they did bear uncanny resemblance to many of the actual lumps of metal we see in the streets every day. So, free from the shackles of official licences we, in turn, were free to allow our motors to buckle, bend and shatter in crashes.