Burnout Dominator PS2 Review

Since the release of Burnout 3, a fair margin of people have yearned for the return of the pure racing of the first two games, opposed to the now typical encouragement of aggressiveness and the taking down of rival racers. Then of course there’s Burnout Revenge, which introduced Traffic Checking, a feature that polarised opinion due to being able to knock same-way traffic out of your path. You just can’t please everyone.

Those who detested Revenge’s Traffic Checking will be delighted with the newest game in the series. The much maligned feature has been entirely removed, which means that the roads have once again become a full minefield opposed to half a one, therefore every vehicle is once again a potential hazard, and care must be taken to avoid becoming a prisoner of a mangled metallic wreckage.

Yes the Traffic Checking has been shown the door, but as far as everything else goes this is your typical violent Burnout game. The amazing trademark high-speed crashes are in there, Aftertouch and Crashbreakers still serve their purpose following a crash, the graphics are delicious, the risk and reward mechanic is as prominent as it was in all games prior to the release of Revenge, and finally the game is stupidly fun, fast, and always exhilarating. It may actually be too close to previous games for some players, as Dominator’s biggest new feature is actually the return of an old one, and one that hasn’t been seen since Burnout 2 crashed its way onto consoles.

Chaining Burnouts is what we’re talking about, and it was one of Burnout 2’s pleasures to keep going at turbo speed by taking irrational risks. It was a hugely popular feature, and its return has obviously pleased those who have missed it since its fleeting appearance in Burnout 2. It’s not entirely the same here though, as whilst boosting is possible when your meter is burning with orange flames, you can’t actually chain any burnouts until the meter is full. Once full the meter then turns a gassy blue, and you can then attempt to keep the boost flowing by driving on the wrong side of the road, taking out and fighting with opponents during races, drifting and missing other road users by a whisker. If you keep driving in this psychotic manner before the blue meter is depleted you’ll fill up a second meter, and your burnout chain is extended. This is definitely the most satisfying way to make use of boost, and as the chain number rises you’ll be overwhelmed with your own personal smugness.

One crowd pleasing feature may be back in the fold, although the removal of the crash mode is sure to irk and confuse many people in equal measure. At least we’ve got a new mode to play around with, and it’s one which suits Burnout just fine. The aptly titled Maniac Mode gives you the opportunity to act like a drink driver who has had one glass too many (although hopefully with faster reactions), and involves you scoring points by pulling off all the usual fun and dangerous stuff. Chaining works well in this mode, as each burnout adds multipliers to your always increasing score. All in all, it’s a great mode then, and certainly one that will live in the memory longer than Revenge’s Traffic Attack.

The World Tour mode has been a staple of the series since Burnout 3, and as usual, Dominator lines you up with a number of racing series’ (complete with some new set of challenges along with the old) for you to aim for the gold medals in. It’s also the mode where you’ll unlock all the vehicles, and in a genius touch, this is often done by taking down a particular car during a race, drifting a certain amount, accumulating a necessary amount of near misses and so on. If you fail to unlock a car, you’ll be attempting to complete the necessary task again, as unlocking all the cars in each of the seven series’ is the only way to open up each of the dominator challenges.

There’s 12 brand new tracks based on real-life locations in Europe, the Far East and the USA. The tracks are traditionally well designed, full of traffic and never far away from chaos. New on Dominator is the ability to knock your opponents through barriers, which reveal sneaky signature shortcuts for you to take advantage of. Great stuff.

There’s no online multiplayer, although there’s split-screen and pass the pad around offline multiplayer to enjoy. The latter is the party mode, where up to four players compete in maniac, burning lap, and road rage challenges in aim of being the points leader and subsequent winner. This is certainly one of the best ways to experience Burnout, but things can get pretty competitive, so let that be a warning to you, your buddies, and your siblings.

Some may look at Burnout Dominator and its lack of any true innovations and pass it by as a blatant cash-in, although there will also be a large margin of people that share our perspective of just being glad that the crash-happy series has made its return, banishing a controversial element of the mostly excellent previous game, and more than likely being one of the PS2‘s last great games. Everything about Dominator has just multiplied our desire to rip cars in half on the first truly next-gen Burnout game. Paradise City here we come!