I missed the first installment in the Burnout series - I was too busy with Gran Turismo to pick up a less-serious racing game for the PS2. However, I did play Burnout 3: Takedown, and really liked it. The crash events were great, even though the racing events weren't that good.
As you probably have seen by now, Burnout Revenge is more of the same. The biggest change is that you can now hit smaller traffic going your direction without wrecking: they've added a new event, Traffic Attack, based solely on this ability. Basically, there are three types of events: crash events, fastest lap events, and race events.
The crash events are outstanding. The Crash events are as fun as in Burnout 3, although there are still far too many times when you can't see in the right direction or you can't find your car at a key time. Surprisingly, there are also times when the best path isn't the path you'd think it would be. Traffic Attack events are mostly fun, although the ones with stretches without cars to wreck are much less fun. Road Rage events are interesting.
Sadly, the racing events suck just as much as before - they're as bad as the crash events are good. The Burnout series is based on crashing, which means that the races involve a lot of accidents. All too often, you'll find yourself ticking a rock, a post, or some other minor outcropping that didn't seem to be a problem the previous lap, ruining your chances at a gold in Burning Lap or Preview events, or putting you too far behind in the race events. If you do fall behind, you've got no idea how far in front the next car is; if you're out in front, you have no idea how close behind your pursuers are until one of them checks a car into you. The Grand Prix events would be acceptable in a normal game, but in this game, the frustration level is high enough that many times, it's simply not worth finishing. There is no option to start a race over, just the entire Grand Prix, so when you've won the first two races but are inexplicably last in the third, you might as well just shut it off.
If EA knew what it was doing – in other words, the EA from five years ago – they'd scale down the race events, maybe just to Eliminator and Road Rage, and focus on the crashing, the things that make this game so much fun. Given their current marketing ineptitude, I wouldn't be surprised to see the next Burnout game drop the crashing completely.
This game is definitely worth renting for the crash events. The race events are tolerable only if you want to get achievements, and at that, a fair number of achievements involve a lot of online play. (There's also a wasted achievement - getting a clip in the Top 20 downloads. I don't understand why they do those.) It's really like two games in one. If I could rate them separately, I'd give Burnout Revenge: Crash a 10, and Burnout Revenge: Race a 2. As it is, I'll have to combine them.
zlionsfan's rating: a mean 6 out of 10.