Game: Burnout Legends
Developer: Visual Impact
Publisher: EA Games
Burnout Legends is a racing game in the Burnout series and it’s the first of the Burnout games which is released on a handheld system (NDS/PSP). The Burnout series is known for it’s fast paced racing action, shoving opponents of the track, causing opponents to dramatically crash into the scenery and causing major traffic crashes. The same almost goes for the Nintendo DS (NDS) version of the game, but not quite.
Let’s start of with the good elements of this game.
Burnout Legends features pretty nice graphics. Allthough not as sharp as the other versions which were released on the Gamecube, PS2 and XBox, but that isn’t relevant, the NDS has relatively small screens and a pretty low resolution as well, but I think the developer has done a nice job in making this game look nice. The framerate appears to be good, the speed by which the graphics fly by is nice, you have actual visible damage on the cars and what really surprised me is that when you use the Nitro Boost there actually is a motion blur effect just like you see it on the other systems. That is something I didn’t expect to see in this version considering the limited graphical power of the NDS, but they pulled it off really nicely and it doesn’t even reduce your view to rubble, you can still drive accurately while boosting.
Which brings us to the gameplay department; Burnout Legends has some good gameplay features, but unfortunatly, not all of them work equally good on the NDS, but more about that later. There are several different racemodes:
- Time Attack
- Road Rage
In Race you simply drive laps and try to finish first, just like in any other racegame, with the exception that you can smash your opponents to give yourself a bit more space on the road.
In Time Attack you simply try to break your record time by driving on a track on your own. No opponents to smash this time.
In Road Rage there are no laps, you just drive around the track and smash as many opponent cars as possible. It may seem a strange at first that when you pass an opponent at one point, he’s right infront of you after the next corner, but I think that the reason for this is that you don’t have to catch them again before you can take them down. The point of this gamemode is to take as many opponents down in a set timeframe. A takedown is scored by pushing an opponent to his death by smashing him into a wall or by forcing him off the road causing him to crash or by any other means, as long as the opponent suffers a deadly crash, it’s ok and you score a takedown. You can also score special takedowns by forcing opponents into special areas of a track, for instance into a memorial statue or something like that.
In Persuit there (asside from the usual traffic, there is non-racing traffic on all tracks during all gamemodes) are only 2 cars on the track. You and an opponent who has to die. The goal of the game is to keep up with your opponent, get close enough and smash your car into his untill he’s destroyed. A healthbar is displayed in the top of the upper screen showing you how much more damage your opponent can take before he’s taken down.
And in Crash it’s your job to drive as fast as possible into the traffic that’s crossing a certain point on the road. You have powerups that increase your speed, double your score or that have a negative effect like a speed or score penalty. In this gamemode you are also alone on the track. The more vehicles that are being destroyed in the big crash, the more points you score and after a certain amount of destroyed vehicles, you gain a Crash Breaker which makes your car explode and cause even more damage.
Besides that, there is also single card and multicard multiplayer. In single card multiplayer you can play with one friend in a race on one track, no choices to be made, but I guess it’s a good way to kill some time with a friend. In multicard mode you can play either Race or Persuit. Unlike the XBox version of Burnout Takedown (which is in general very similar) you can’t play a multiplayer Crash or Road Rage. In multicard mode you can use all the cars and tracks that have been unlocked during the singleplayer game and like with almost any game, multiplayer only adds to the fun.
And also on the audio front, Burnout Legens is pretty strong. Some effects aren’t very convicing, but they are functional and do their job very well and so does the music soundtrack. It pretty much has the same punk/rock/metal feel to it as the on it’s bigger brother on the XBox and it really adds something to the funfactor, it just pumps it up a little.
The game also features a wide variaty of vehicles to choose from, but most of them are locked when you first start the game and they can be unlocked by scoring Burnout Points which are gained by winning races, causing massive damage on crashes and by taking down opponents. Some cars and specials can be unlocked by performing several special takedowns.
The last thing I want to add is the ability to control your wreck for a limited period of time after crashing in the Crash mode, the Persuit mode and the Road Rage mode. This way you can still smash a car after you’re being taken down resulting in a Vengeance Takedown, which will unlock something new after the first time you succeed in doing this.
Which is where we get to the bad sides of this game, which it surely has, this game is far from perfect.
The NDS has a brilliant feature called a touchscreen, but it’s not used in this game at all. Allthough, you can browse through the menu’s using the stylus on the touchscreen, but that’s as far it that goes. But actually, it’s not so strange at all, what use would a touchscreen have for a racinggame like this? If you want to see some failed use of the touchscreen in a racinggame, try Ridgeracer on the NDS.
Also, the microphone isn’t used at all, an option for that one could be that it responds to screaming and yelling of some sort, but it doesn’t affect the racing gameplay anyway, so I can’t really tell if I should count this as something bad or not, just like the touchscreen point; better not use it than use it badly.
The controls; allthough not super bad, I’ve seen better controls on pocket racinggames. Games like F-Zero GP Legend, GT Advance and Mariokart Advance. Allthough those are GBA games, I still think I can compare at least to control part with those. Sometimes it can seem impossible to take a corner properly, because your car won’t turn unless you brake and take the corner on snail-velocity which can be very frustrating.
The physics of the game seem a littlebit off. Allthough we can’t really speak of physics in this game as well as other games, simply because the NDS wouldn’t be able to pull off something like that anyway, but sometimes it looks like cars suspend into the road or drive straight through objects and that doesn’t only happen to opponents, sometimes when you hit a bit bus or truck you simply drive one without anything happening which is kind of strange. It also happens sometimes that you fly through the wall that surrounds the track, resulting in your car flying off the playing area resulting in a crash and you’ll be placed back on the track with some damage. Not much to worry about, but it looks way stupid and illogical.
Crash. On the XBox version of Burnout Takedown, Crash is a very fun gamemode. You simply run down a road and smash your car into the traffic following a camera that tracks the damage. On the NDS however, it’s no fun at all. It’s a
dull and uninspired short run down the road. Dispite the graphical limitations of the DS, I think they could have done at least a bit more to make a crash look interesting and the camera isn’t helping either. it just sticks right behind your car and you barely see anything of the mayhem. Even the Crash Breaker can’t make up to this.
And last, but certainly not least is something that is very tipical to racegames from EA as of late; the cheating AI. What do I mean with cheating AI? Well, it’s an AI mode they call Catch-up, which means that whatever happens, the opponents are always right on your tail, even if your driving a car that is twice as fast as your opponents car and you drive perfectly, they still manage to pass you right before the end of the race. This isn’t just annoying, it’s stupid and frustrating. It also means that if you’re driving badly and slowly, the opponents will drive slowly as well, so their never far ahead either. This really takes away a lot of the challenge a racing game should give you. Just look at some classics like the Need for Speed or Screamer. In these old games it was just driving as fast as you could and the opponents did the same, so if your car was faster than theirs and you drove really well, they wouldn’t keep up with you and the same went the other way around. If your car was slower, you really had to drive good and find shortcuts (if present, there are some in the Need for Speed and some (allthough very few) in Screamer) to keep up with them or stay infront of them. That’s how it should be, not
some stupid AI construct that always keeps up, no matter what you do.
The Bottom Line
Burnout Legends for the Nintendo DS isn’t bad, but it isn’t very good either. It’s a fun racing game when looking away from some flaws like the controls, which you will get used to… Eventually. The Road Rage mode is good fun to play and a multiplayer feature is always a plus and the Persuit Mode is also very good fun, just too bad about the failed Crash mode in this version. I hope for PSP owners that want to buy this game that the Crash mode is a bit more enjoyable.
I’ll give it a 5/10, simply because of it’s flaws, this is definitely not the worst game that will ever be released on the NDS, but it doesn’t qualify as a must-have by far. If you really want to have this one, wait untill it ends up in a bargainbin at a rediculous low price.
…End of line.