Is it burned out?
Any real Burnout fan touts Burnout 3: Takedown as the series unquestionable high point. Sure, there were things in the last edition of the series, Burnout Revenge that heightened gameplay in a technical, often graphical sense. But Takedown came together as the best overall blend of the high-intensity racing and vehicle-bending mayhem that Criterion has yet slapped with the Burnout patent.
- No online play, no Crash mode
Even with the lack of a Crash mode and no online play, Burnout Dominator is a wise investment, even for the Burnout first-timer, especially with a $40 price tag.
Price$ 39.95 (AUD)
Back to Basics
It's easy to see Dominator as a filler to plug the space before the new-generation console release, a logical bastardisation of the franchise to rake in more coinage from an already established worldwide user base of PS2 owners. And, after all, Dominator has no online support, and a mysterious absence of Crash mode will be quite suspicious to series returnees, for the multi-car pileups have always been a big part of the Burnout draw.
But remove the expectations and you'll see that Criterion has stripped Dominator back to the series basics. Gone entirely is the Crash mode that changed so drastically from Takedown to Revenge, upsetting many followers in the process. Instead, racing is the focus, and several older Burnout features return to Dominator to spice up the whole experience.
The Return of the Burnout
Dominator is all about simplicity. That's why the game focuses almost entirely on the World Tour. All new tracks and cars take you through seven different car classes, ending of course with the Dominator class that provides the faster and most challenging racing. You'll start with one car class unlocked, and each event you complete will earn you a number of points depending on how well you do. Like other Burnout games, there are gold, silver, and bronze medals to be earned, the gold usually taking a few tries to complete.
There are returning games modes like Race, Road Rage, and Eliminator, but four new modes provide the most variety to Dominator. But it's Burnouts, a returning Burnout 2 manoeuvre, that tie everything together. Fill your entire boost meter and you're prompted to unleash a Supercharge Boost. Keep boosting until meter depletes, and that's called a Burnout. If you perform enough dangerous manoeuvres, like executing drifts and near misses, and you'll refill your boost meter to start a Burnout chain. The more you do this, the more chains you link together and the higher score you'll receive.
It's a fun, challenging manoeuvre, but in actually, Burnouts change the gameplay entirely. This is because chaining Burnouts increase any other action in the game. For example, there are three new game modes in Dominator: Drift, Near Miss, and Maniac, in addition to a Burnout challenge where linking Burnouts is the only goal. In Drift mode, drifting earns you points, but drifting during a Burnout earns you massive points. The whole game works under the fundamental principle that Burnouts enhance everything you do.
It's Burnout, After All
You'll find the difficulty in Dominator about the same as the rest of the Burnout series, possibly a bit harder simply because to achieve Burnout chains, you're going to be boosting while dodging traffic for the majority of the game. Aside from World Tour, there is a Record Breaker mode that simply allows you to jump in to single tracks that you've unlocked through your World Tour progress. And there is split-screen multiplayer, which ain't no online, but is barrels of fun with a buddy if you have an amply sized TV.
The absence of 480p support hampers the visuals in Dominator, as background objects look a bit grainy, especially on a TV larger than 40 inches. But car models are some of the best looking on the PS3. And, none of this affects frame rate or physics performance, which are surprisingly good for the PS2, just as the rest of the series has been.
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