Games and Interaction design

Sunday, September 25, 2005

The Burnout experience

Well its that Burnout time of year. This time, however, beyond the usual iteration on PS2 and Xbox (is there a gamecube version this year?) theres also the release of Burnout legends on PSP (and a DS version I believe, but dont know much about this one).

I've spent the last couple of days with both of them (admittedly more with the PS2 iteration), and while I've thoroughly loved the home version (although perhaps the road-rage Moses feature is a little bizarre) the PSP version does really feel like its missing something. I was really looking forward to this on the PSP, but now that I've taken it for a spin, it seems to be a classic example of creating whats possible (basically a slightly inferior PS2 port) rather than creating a tailor made game for the platform. While in basic form, its the same game, theres something really missing that detracts from the experience. Burnout for me is the extreme feeling of speed, its a really visceral title. Its frantic and all about trying to react to things flying at you at an insane pace. Your eyes focussed on a pinpoint area on the screen as it grows into obstacles, targets etc. It feels more shoot-em-up than driving game. But the PSP title, presumably due to technical limitations of porting the title, has had to drop some of the things that made the experience what it is. Firstly they've dropped the framerate from 60FPS to 30FPS. This is a *shocking* mistake. It totally trashes the feeling of speed as you dont have the same amount of information being chucked into your eyes, and it really breaks the connection with the screen for a game like this that is so much about the senses. Secondly, they've got rid of the blur effect when you are boosting. subtle as it is, it really triggers something in your perception, to tell you YOU ARE GOING FAST. With both these changes, its really lost it for me, and taken burnout legends down to a fairly standard battle racing game.


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