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I had forgotten just how much I had enjoyed previous Burnouts. This has to be said at the outset, the sheer phenomenon that is the Burnout series has risen to a great height indeed. Much like reading a good book, every time I play it I imagine the friends I would like to introduce to it. The genius of being able to crash, swipe and rear-end your rivals combined with the paused action crash sequences is just breath taking. That introduction of gamer to game is become rarer and rarer as the majority have by now already experience Burnout in one guise or another over the last few years. With that in mind we turn to the latest edition to the family. As we shall see, more of a cousin than a direct sibling, but from noble blood none the less.
Burnout Dominator is a return to many of the mechanics that made such a splash in the third outing of the series, Take Down. It noticeably returns to focus more on driving than the traffic checking and crash mechanics of Burnout Revenge. It is a stripped down, pull back, low slung, tricked out re-imagining of what might have been had the series developed differently.
Although now more about the driving, this is still very much driving of the dangerous variety. As with Burnout Take Down the focus is on building boost by driving on the wrong side, drifting round corners, catching air and edging dangerously close to oncoming vehicles. However, these now also tally up to your maniac score, a one size fits all measurement of just how crazy your racing has been.
It eventually clicks that what the game is nudging you towards is a full on balletic boost fest for the entire length of the track.
This all comes to life as you start to chain together burnouts, where you refill your meter by driving dangerously while burning your boost. Points awarded for takedowns and other achievements are then multiplied by the number of boosts you have currently chained. It eventually clicks that what the game is nudging you towards is a full on balletic boost fest for the entire length of the track.
Some favourite features of other Burnout releases have for one reason or another has not been included. There is no crash junction, online play or traffic attack. Some of these omissions can be attributed to a streamlined game experience. Others however, seem to have been left out due to resource constraints on the project.
A nice new feature is a development of the signature takedowns concept. If you manage to take a rival out at just the right point in the track you can unlock a previously inaccessible short cut. Although not as compelling as the signature feature, this certainly increases the replay value of each track.
Graphically and sonically Dominator is right up there with the other Burnout releases. It is an amazing game to play. Although it's not until you watch someone else that you can really appreciate the graphics. Every inch of performance is squeezed out of the PS2, as the scenery tarmac and cars do their dance of death before your eyes. The soundtrack and voice instructions are not as raucous as previous games. Gone are the surfer DJ track introductions offered by Takedown, instead there is a more melancholy audio overview of the ensuing action.
As we have mentioned above, this is very much a stop gap release until Burnout 5 comes to town. And how better to extend the long twig light of the PS2. If you have not had a chance to pick-up burnout before then this is well worth the money. If you have only played Burnout Revenge then this is still worth picking up to see where the series has come from. However, if you have played Takedown then there isn't really all that much here to justify a second purchase.
Overall this is another confident outing for the series. However, all eyes are still fixed on the upcoming thoroughbred sequel. The question remains whether Dominator was a brief visit to some previous play mechanics for old time's sake, or whether this is the genuine direction for the series.
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