I’m a huge fan of driving games, especially if they aren’t taking themselves too seriously. I can’t get on with ultra realistic racers, but those which fall on the arcade side of the genre normally hit the right note. With this in mind, Burnout Revenge took a step back from the racing, and explored the idea of using your car as a weapon, taking out your opponents in a wide manner of stylish and cinematic ways.
I thought this was a great idea, which thankfully had no realistic consequences for the driver inside. What it did provide is plenty of opportunities to pull off some insane moves, usually ending in one or more cars getting smashed to pieces. You could compete in lap races too, however the focus of Burnout Revenge was firmly rooted in aggravating other drivers and doing whatever you can to take each other out. You might say it was a very extreme example of road rage.
A couple of personal favourites were the Eliminator and Crash modes. The first saw you take part in a race, however every 30 seconds the player in last place exploded until the last man was left standing. The latter had you attempting to orchestrate the worst crash possible at a busy junction, by driving straight into it to trigger an epic chain reaction. With your final breath, you could detonate your car to try and keep the carnage flowing by causing more unsuspecting drivers to crash around you, otherwise known as a “crashbreaker”. Earning “crash dollars” relative to how much chaos you caused was the name of the game here. This mode was so much fun to play, and felt different from anything else, tasking you with combining strategy and destruction.
However, what made Burnout Revenge truly special was the ability to create rivals during your race. Instead of you just randomly performing takedowns on whoever you could (which was still very fun), this feature allowed you to focus on a particular opponent (usually one who had just caused you to crash horrifically). Successfully striking back against this rival was known as a revenge takedown; the game’s hook, and cleverly created a feeling of elevated AI with certain racers targeting you in particular.
Despite the main aim of Burnout Revenge being to cause as much destruction as possible, the single player campaign offered some structure in the form of the world tour mode. You were tasked with upping your revenge rank by competing in a whole host of events taking place across the globe. During this you were able to experiment with all sorts of different cars as you smashed, bashed and crashed your way through numerous different scenarios.
Burnout Revenge offered something quite unlike anything else at the time. The hybrid gameplay of racing and combat worked surprisingly well, and taking out a rival always felt satisfying. Not long after its original release in 2005, the game was given a makeover for the Xbox 360, dropping in March 2006, featuring a much more comprehensive online mode, including the ability to show off your moves by uploading in-game clips to Xbox Live.
However, despite how well the game was received there has only been one proper sequel in the last 20 years. This was Burnout Paradise, which was also remastered only a few years ago in 2018. This saw the series move to a more open world format, with a focus on exploration as opposed to taking on a pre-set series of races and events.
Burnout Revenge is well worth a revisit as it blazed the trail for combat-based racing without the fancy items, instead proving that your car can be the most deadly weapon of all. Its flashy effects provided the wow factor and events were perfect for shorter play sessions, instead of you having to tackle a huge open world (which was no bad thing). The good news is that Burnout Revenge is on the Xbox One and Xbox Series X|S backwards compatibility list, available on the Xbox Store. So there’s really no reason not to go and check it out, especially if you’re partial to causing a bit of carnage.