Burnout Legends
By Zach Patterson Thursday, 8 Oct 2009

As I alluded to earlier, I’ll be giving some reviews of some PSP games I played over the summer that are all part of long running franchises, but nevertheless are pretty great games that can be found pretty cheaply. Today, it’s Burnout Legends. Burnout Legends is one of a long line of Burnout games, this one being a portable offering on PSP that offers a bit of everything from the first 3 games in the series. It has since seen a sequel in Burnout Dominator for PSP and Burnout Paradise for next gen systems. This version of the game is pretty faithful to what little I have played of the series on other consoles, but the question is, does it make for a good portable game?

And that question, unfortunately, is complicated. The fact is that this is a pretty fun and good game. It’s wreckless arcade style racing that glorifies wrecking your car and others, and really mixes up the racing modes as you go through the tour mode. Sometimes you are out to destroy as many competitors as possible, sometimes you are racing for a rivals car, sometimes it’s a straight up race to the finish, sometimes it’s cop pursuits, sometimes it’s time trial, sometimes it’s setting up a fantastic wreck in Crash Mode, etc. The game also gives you tons of rewards and new cars and locales for winning golds, so there’s definitely a lot here to keep your interest. But…..

…Ok, here’s why it’s complicated. Quite frankly, I don’t think this game is well suited for a portable platform. And I don’t think it was designed with it in mind. The reason is that this game is just bogged down with loading. The menu screens are flashy and feature blah licensed tracks, but every time a new menu loads, it takes forever, and really, i don’t need to see random cars crashing in the background and hear some Yellowcard song as soon as game boots. It just slows the experience down. The tour mode is pretty straight forward, but then you go to select a car, and the game has to load again so it can show you a full 360 rotating model of the car you want to select. More loading. Then you are ready to race, which takes more loading. Once you get to the race, then it’s really not so bad. Everything starts to look up, and the game runs rather smoothly (though, again, when a new song loads, the game has crashed on me a few times and almost always stutters a bit).

On the whole, the actual racing experience is great and there’s a lot here for fans of arcade style racers or the Burnout series. I just ended up playing this game less and less because it took too long to load, and usually when I pick up a portable game, I need an instant fix, and I’m impatient. Some PSP games understand this…and some are like Burnout Legends. Like, the Crash Mode might as well not be in here, because it takes forever to load, and then the mode is over in roughly 30 seconds. It’s fun sure, but if you mess up the crash you were planning, well, you need to wait another minute for the game to reload that level again.

Anyway, that kinda stuff may not be an issue for everyone, but it killed my enthusiasm for the game over time. As for the other details, the graphics are solid, if a bit unspectacular at times, but the crashes are things of beauty like most of the series. I’m glad the in game engine runs pretty smoothly, because the transition between the crash cam and racing is quick and smooth, and every crash you cause is very satisfying. I also like the fact that as you wreck more cars, your car gets faster and faster and more dangerous, and sends you into a bit of a bloodthirsty frenzy to send more cars into the walls. It’s an addictive game mechanic for sure.

I’m not a huge fan of the controls, but I got used to them over time. My biggest gripe is that it felt like I was on a sheet of ice driving most of the time, and coming off a game like Wipeout Pure that’s precision racing at it’s finest, this game had me skating around the tracks and bumbling off the walls like a drunk. And as I played, I realized that there wasn’t much of an incentive to drive better, as I was able to remain competitive and even rack up more opponent crashes by driving poorly. It’s…an interesting setup I guess, but hard to master or take too seriously.

The music is pretty terrible, all licensed poppy punk stuff for the most part that I kept on mute and listened to my own stuff.

The game overall is a pretty robust package, offering good gameplay, fun mechanics, a variety of modes, tons of unlockables and a lot of replay value. For that reason alone, it’s a good game I would recommend to arcade racing fans. However, keep in mind this game is also not at all an ideal portable game, and if you are anything like me, all that waiting ends up turning into not returning to play after awhile.

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