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Burnout: Dominator Review

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A version of the driving game which concentrates on driving skills.

★★★★

When Burnout first crashed onto on PS2s in November 2001, the game’s delirious turn of speed and illicit scrambles through cross-town traffic were a timely antidote to simulations such as Gran Turismo, injecting a sense of fun back into a genre that was becoming increasingly po-faced in its pursuit of realism. And in returning to Burnout’s roots and making your driving skills more important than your ability to cause titanic pile-ups, Dominator is an intense, heart-pounding experience that will delight fans and newcomers alike.

While recent Burnouts allowed players to use random motorists as weapons by knocking them headlong into rivals – and also rewarded gamers’ destructive tendencies with the dedicated crash mode - Dominator shifts the focus back to balls-out racing, with players rocketing down the wrong side of the road and missing oncoming traffic by inches, ensuring your face is knit into a permanent scowl of concentration as you weave through traffic jams at impossible speeds. Moreover, Dominator also sees the welcome return of the ‘burnout’ system – where you lay off the boost button until your meter is full, then drain your power completely without crashing – again challenging players to hone their racing skills to perfection, rather than smashing into anything that gets in your way.

The new Maniac mode – where aggressive driving is rewarded as a timer steadily counts down to zero – also encourages players to avoid piles of twisted metal rather than creating them, and the hidden routes that are only revealed when you smash another car into special barriers are enough to sate the bloodlust of fans who miss the smash-happy action of Burnout: Revenge.

Although not a true sequel – you’ll have to wait for Burnout 5 on the PS3 for that – the series’ PS2 swansong has what it takes to satisfy fans hungry for more racing thrills, and even though long-time followers of the series will be in familiar territory, Dominator will have you on the edge of your seat from beginning to end.