The Burnout series has always gone from strength to strength in my opinion. I have always liked the mix of adrenaline fuelled racing and incredibly volatile crashes that made good use of physics and collision systems to provide some good solid gameplay driven carnage.
I thought the pinnacle of the series was Burnout Revenge and it had some nice additions on the Xbox 360. I'm not a fan of any specific console or platform, I'm a gamer. As long as the game's good then I'm there, I've played some crap games in my time as well as some brilliant ones.
Burnout Dominator then, for the PS2 taken from the PSP and billed as the most thrilling Burnout yet. No, no, sorry it's not. I hate bursting the bubble of the PR side of big companies but this isn't as good as Revenge and has some tagged on crappy new modes.
It's got online play for the PS2, great, if Sony's online service was as good as the others - which it's not.
Dominator feels lack-lustre in every respect except the graphics. The game has gone back to the original style of Burnout though, where checking any kind of traffic except your opponent's results in a crash and pile-up, so fans of same-direction checking from Burnout Revenge will probably want to give this one a big miss.
It has new cars, which amount to nothing more than skins on models considering the handling never really matters in a Burnout game. It's about getting up to speed and blasting through the track, near misses and furious road battles are the watermark of the series and in this case, it's pretty much par for the course.
There are some nice new things in the game of course, it's not all doom and gloom. I like how you can chain Burnouts now and get a massive score if you can keep the burn going. I like the fact that it features new tracks with special shortcuts that can be unlocked by slamming your opponent into them.
You've got car classes like: Classic, Muscle, Super, Special, Dominator, Exotic and Hot Rod with a bunch of cars in each type, unlocked as you play and earn Dominator points. Each one's different in look and some are faster than others but the handling never really seems to change overly much, then again this isn't a Forza or a GT game so that can be slightly overlooked.
Some cars are more suited to drifting than others though, you never really care about it because you're moving so fast there's hardly time to drift around the corners before you're either slammed into a wall or you nip through by the skin of your teeth, watch the paintwork!
There's Maniac mode which is pretty much a race against the clock to get a high score and drive like a 'nutter' to do so. It's not all that fun to be honest and you'll soon be wishing you can check same-way traffic.
There's the World Tour which is pretty much akin to Burnout and Burnout II in design, easy to see what you have to do next and how far you've come.
The game plays in a fast and frenetic manner but it does get boring fairly quickly, there's no crash mode and the lack of the quick-replay feature means you lose some of those awesome Burnout moments from the past race.
Visually the game pushes the PSP and the PS2 to a high level. It's a nice looking game with sharp graphics and some eye-burning explosive crash effects. The Burnout series has always been good at this kind of thing and on the PS2 you'll appreciate just how far they've taken the old engine and tuned it up a bit here and there.
The graphics for the tracks are decent enough, there's a fair amount of variety this time around and they seem to be better designed than the Burnout Revenge ones. There's a few bits and places where I spotted a couple of graphical glitches but these are minor and you're going that fast most of the time you don't actually have a chance to spot them.
The game's AI is typical for the series, it doesn't really push the envelope and it just likes to ram into you. It provides enough of a challenge on the harder races and in some races it's just plain insanely overpowered, using rubber-banding to make sure it's always ahead.
The music is a good mix of tracks from some cool bands, there's no custom-soundtrack of course since this is a PS2 game but the music that EA has licensed can be setup however you want so you can make a playlist of your favourite tunes.
The sound effects are great. I've always loved the roar of the engines in the Burnout series and the scraping sound as paint is torn from the side of the car in Revenge, the whump of an explosion and all the tiny little effects people tend to gloss over. These things are just as important in a game as gameplay and graphics as far as I'm concerned.
They did keep the good old Crashbreaker in so you can wreak automotive explosive havoc on your opponents and use the after-touch to get some wicked crash related score combinations. Even with the addition of the almighty Crashbreaker, the game doesn't do it for me. There's just too much missing and I'm firmly in the Burnout Revenge style of gameplay camp.
So all in all if you like Burnout and you like the series, just for completeness sake you're going to get the game regardless of what I say. I don't hate it and I don't love it, it's a so-so title with some additions and some stuff left out. The Multiplayer online and offline might be enough to keep you coming back for more, unlocking cars and new tracks might just keep your attention for a little while longer and there's racking up Dominator points as well.
For me though I would have preferred Crash Mode and all the slick things I've come to expect from a decent Burnout game. Ah well, Burnout 5 is to come!