Review: Burnout Dominator (PlayStation 2)

Burnout Dominator

Burnout Dominator

Developer: Electronic Arts/Criterion Games

Publisher: Electronic Arts

Burnout Dominator is Electronic Arts’s final venture into the PlayStation 2 market. It is (probably) the only Burnout game not developed by Criterion Software. Burnout Dominator is the successor to the extremely popular and critically acclaimed Burnout 3:Takedown and Burnout Revenge. Obviously, it has a lot riding on it.

The game starts with a basic training video. What strikes players who have already played Burnout 3 is the reintroduction of the Burnout. A burnout is done when you empty your boost completely in one go, by pressing R1. Burnout Dominator is not a new game, as it takes bits and pieces from previous Burnout titles and puts them together in a new fashion. The result is a refreshingly good experience, as it has all the things which previous Burnout games were lacking.

Gameplay, as usual, is fabulous. As always, Burnout Dominator has no story. You complete events, earn dominator points, and unlock another series containing a particular set of cars, like Muscle or Hotrod. Its fast, and feels good, with the controller vibrating mildly in your hands. But unfortunately, the game is so fast, that is generally stays a step or two behind itself. For example, when you crash, and you do an aftertouch takedown (thats when you make other cars deliberately crash into your wreck), your boost bar gets filled with a blue flame, and when you press R1 to boost when you recover from the crash, you will be boosting, but the sound effects will make it look like you’re driving normally. There are minor bugs, but there’s forgiveness factor for such a good game. Multiplayer mode to, is not good, and there is no online play at all.

The graphics are quite good. The cars are detailed pretty well, and even the crashes look good, but not as good as they did in Burnout Revenge. The atmosphere looks great. The sky looks good – just the right shade of blue and 0range. The buildings, trees and under construction stuff also looks good. The trucks and the traffic on the street are also good, but because of the extremely fast gameplay, halfway through the game when you begin to unlock new cars, you notice the blockiness of traffic vehicles. Fast gameplay also makes it tough to recognise the already indistinguishable traffic cars, making you crash badly, especially when your average driving speed is about 270 kmph. Unlike Burnout Revenge, you crash even when you hit a car from behind. Minus marks, EA.

Cars have specific groups, such as Hotrod, Race Special, etc. but each group has only about four to five cars, and more can be unlocked after fulfilling certain conditions in certain races, such as taking down a particular car three times, or winning a gold in a race. But still, there isn’t a really vast choice of cars. Cars from a particular group cannot be used in another; not that you’ll need to do that. Unlocking all cars unlocks a special event: the Dominator Challenge. I never played one as yet, because of the difficulty level. Burnout Dominator is quite tough. The difficulty level is high. Very high. Even a bronze medal will get you a sigh of relief. You have to be an exceptionally good gamer to win gold in all medals. Lots of practice is needed. Of course, this has its own benefits – trophies. Completing a particular set of challenges will earn you a trophy. And show you a nice trophy video. Wow!

Also there are some other good things too. Game physics are not bad. Cars dont make a full 360 while hitting a wall. And the best part is the harder you rub against a wall, the more will be the emission of sparks. Another cool thing is that EA managed to make the car controllable in in the highest of speeds. Also, the soundtrack is phenomenal. Superb music in the menu and in the races. The electric guitars seem to go very well with the crashes and drifts and boosts. Avril Lavigne’s (then) new song Girlfriend from the album The Best Damn Thing is also on Burnout Dominator, and it seems to go well with high speed.

Burnout Dominator shows the reintroduction of Burnout, which was last seen in Burnout 2: Point of Impact. A burnout is achieved, when the boost bar is emptied completely at one time. The new modification is a supercharge boost. You increase your boost bar by driving dangerously on the wrong side of the roads, smashing cars, rubbin’ with ’em, and closely escaping a speeding vehicle. And once the boost bar is full, the orange flame turns shocking blue. Hold R1 and empty the boost meter at one go. Burnout. Drive dangerously while emptying the boost bar, and yellow arrows light up at the boost bar. If all the yellow arrows are while boosting and then you do a burnout, you get your boost bar full once again. Do this continuously, and you can have chains of burnouts. Get better at it, and master the game. This is amazing stuff! But the greed of chaining burnouts is often the cause of many crashes.

A striking fact about Burnout Dominator, is that you begin to wonder why this was made for the PlayStation 2 in the first place. The controls are designed to fit the PlayStation Portable, and the game does not take advantage of all the extra controls on the Dualshock 2 controller, such as R3, L3, R2 and L2. L2 is used for changing songs, but you won’t do that during a race anyway. Its clear that EA had no desire to release this on the PlayStation 2, but designed it with the PlayStation Portable in mind, after the immense success of Burnout Legends, the first ever Burnout game on Sony’s handheld console.

So to sum it up, Burnout Dominator is a great racing game, but definitely not the best one. Its extremely interesting and even though its extremely difficult, it is the burning passion in you which will compel you to finish the game and win all trophies. Rent or borrow it, but buy it (if its still available in the stores) only and only if you’re a Burnout addict (like me). And  oh, a funny incident just popped up in my mind. I unlocked Menu Damage in one of the races. After enabling it from options, a huge glass-cracking sickening sound came and made a huge crack in the menu, as if Sehwag had smashed the ball into the TV. The crack did look really awesome and came as a mild surprise.

Detailed Ratings [Out of 10]

Gameplay: 9

Graphics: 8

Difficulty: 7

Music: 9

Physics: 8

Rating: 8.2/10 [Great]



  1. Hisham Rizvi · April 15, 2009

    Excellent Aditya!
    It seems like a profeesional game critic at work!

  2. Shikhar · April 17, 2009

    Burnout Dominator for the PSP is good but I found Legends a better game.
    BTW, I believe that you shouldn’t keep difficulty as a criterion for a game rating because this element can be controlled in some games. You can definitely have AI as a criterion, you see Artificial Intelligence is completely different from difficulty level.

    • Aditya · April 17, 2009

      I thought about the AI part before writing the review. Even I was a little apprehensive of putting Difficulty as a critera for rating. But it involves everything – Ergonomically placed-out controls, intelligent (or foolish) AI, or even environment (as in case of racing genres, where the environment is the major cause of crashing). Difficulty receives rating on how the game feels after playing it. It may be too easy, or too tough for you to lose interest. Like winning Bronzes in Dominator is not enough. You have to win Gold and win with style, unlocking cars, shortcuts and trophies. Then you earn dominator points. You may have won the entire series, but may not have enough Dominator points to unlock the next one. So you have to replay. This is good, but gets very boring as the game progresses.

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  5. Bigbx · August 23, 2009

    As mentioned earlier, the track design in Burnout Dominator is more focused around racing rather than Takedowns, and many feel like throwbacks to the days of Burnout 2: Point of Revenge. Huge, sweeping turns are the name of the game here, allowing you to toss your car’s tail end way out in front as you skid for hundreds or even thousands of feet at a time.

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