Some legends never die, but this one should be dragged behind the barn and put out of its misery.
Nintendo fans were screwed out of the two latest Burnout console games after Electronic Arts took control of the Criterion-developed racing series. It's been two and a half years since we've seen a new Burnout game for a Nintendo system. Now, EA gives us Burnout Legends for the Nintendo DS, which is supposedly the best of the first three Burnout games rolled into one.
Well, it's not. In fact, this is probably the most terrible racing game I've ever played, and it's definitely the worst DS game I've seen. There are so many things wrong with it from a design and technological perspective that I can't even begin to comprehend how it got past Nintendo's approval process without money hats changing hands.
The opening movie promises all the fast, hard-hitting action that we love about the Burnout games. That promise is broken the moment you begin the first race. Despite all the old tracks from the first three games in the series getting a fair recreation on the less powerful DS hardware, what you need to do to go about seeing them is downright boring.
The racing action through the streets is more like hopping in a minivan for a Sunday cruise. Winning boost by driving dangerously (if the game even properly recognizes the feat) does make you go faster, but using it causes the screen to blur to the point where seeing the road ahead becomes difficult. “Crashes” are better described as door dings which emit confetti. Scoring a takedown on rival cars in the console Burnout games requires a solid hit, veering them into another car or a wall. In the DS version, all it takes is a good whack from behind, and they pop open on the spot. It makes the game feel like a round of bumper cars down at the county fair instead of combat racing through the metropolis.
The lack of speed in Legends is just the start of the problems that arise during gameplay. Collision detection isn't the greatest, so driving halfway into a rival car is sometimes required to go for a takedown. The wonky control will cause your car to crash more often than you cause others to crash, making it hard to keep a filled boost meter. This problem is compounded by the fact that dangerous driving isn't recognized too well by the game, so boost is harder to come by. All of this contributes to the slow action.
It doesn't help that many of the tracks are big, such as the old Euro Marathon track from Burnout 1. For a decent racing game, the track size would be a good thing. In the case of Burnout Legends, it's painful. For some race types, such as the Eliminator races, you'll be asked to sit through as many as four long laps while terrible music is keeping you company. If you want to get things over quickly, you can try a Pursuit event, courtesy of Burnout 2. There's extra incentive to crash the guy you're chasing in your cop car, as it's the only way to make the loud and extremely obnoxious police siren go away.
There are five classes of cars, ranging from the entry-level compacts to the blur-tastic speed of the super cars. Each car class has individual events such as Road Rage, Crash, and Face-Off challenges, along with those already mentioned. Even with different modes, the general gameplay is so bad that all of the race types feel similar, ultimately killing the game's variety. It's a shame, too, because more than a dozen of the best Burnout tracks and more than 50 cars go to waste.
Burnout Legends DS is a terrible game. It's in 3D, and the Burnout tracks are scaled down well, but nothing else about the game is worth sitting through. It's slow, boring, and poorly put together, three things that the Burnout series is definitely not known for. Stay away from this piece of crap unless you really want to see what a good racing franchise looks like when it's been stripped of everything that made it fun.