- The Washington Times - Sunday, February 9, 2003

There's an art to crashing a car. You could simply wrap your pickup around a pole, but what would be the fun of that? Instead, try sending said truck hurtling into a pack of cars stopped at a red light, using the impact to propel the vehicle into the air and oncoming traffic at a busy intersection. A 16-car pileup and much more entertainment ensues.
That scenario, plus more than a dozen others, constitutes Crash, the most addictive mode in Acclaim and Criterion Games' Burnout 2: Point of Impact, available for PlayStation 2 and on its way for Xbox and GameCube. The object? Win gold medals by causing the most damage through spectacular crashes.
You pick from an assortment of cars, then pick the angle you think will create the most havoc as you drive 100 mph down the left side of a busy highway or recklessly into a packed intersection. Remember two things: Buses full of people and 18-wheelers are worth the most, and the more cars involved, the more damage you do.
Before you can start crashing, however, you have to go to driving school Offensive Driving School, that is. Burnout starts with a six-part tutorial that demonstrates the various ways to drive dangerously. You can earn boosts of speed in the game by almost sideswiping or cutting off cars, by taking corners ridiculously fast and "drifting" on the brake and by going so fast over bumps you get a bit of air. The boosts of speed work like the nitrous oxide from "The Fast and the Furious," and when the tank goes empty, you "burnout" (hence, the name of the game). That's a good thing because it means you used up your entire reserve, got up to maximum speed and managed not to crash.
Completing the driving school opens up the other modes of the game, including Crash. The centerpiece of the game is Championship, in which you race three other cars in a series of three races. You can choose from a list of generic cars there's no licensing here that includes the aforementioned pickup truck, a hatchback, a sports utility vehicle and various sports cars.
After you win each series, you receive an opportunity to unlock another series of races, and earning a gold medal in each gives you the opportunity to unlock a new vehicle that could be anything from a hot rod to a 1920s car. Winning the standard championship will open up custom series championship, which features souped-up version of the vehicles and tougher racing.
Like many other street driving games, Burnout includes a Pursuit mode. Unlike most chase games, however, you drive the police car and try to force the other driver to crash. Or you can try it with two players and try to send your friend's car flipping into a ditch.
And there's nothing better than crashing in Burnout 2: Point of Impact. With easy to pick up controls and a limited number of races, completing the Championship could take as little as three or four hours. But the Crash mode never grows old, and neither does Burnout.
NBA Inside Drive 2003
Only one thing keeps Microsoft's NBA title for Xbox from keeping pace with the competition: a flawed consecutive seasons mode. First, the mode is static. In other words, each time you play, the same players always get better and always get worse, significantly reducing the replay value.
Secondly, the game doesn't account for the Larry Bird exemption, which allows NBA teams to sign their own free agents without regard to the salary cap. So when you build your dynasty and your players become stars, you can't afford to keep the team together. If you think the Lakers have little surrounding Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O'Neal, imagine the team without the ability to use the exemption. The Lakers never become good again on the game, at least not until Bryant retires.
The game plays about as well as any of the other available NBA titles if you just want to sit around and press buttons with a couple of friends. But the flaws with the consecutive seasons mode mean there's little to keep bringing you back otherwise.
Legends of Wrestling II
The best thing about this wrestling game? The old-time grapplers, of course. The late Andre the Giant, Bret Hart, Ricky Steamboat and many other deceased, retired and former greats can be found, still in their primes. Best of all, you can fight Jerry Lawler against Inter-Gender Heavyweight champ Andy Kaufman, recreating one of the biggest media-driven hoaxes of all time.
The worst thing? The game feels like Hulk Hogan and many of the other wrestlers on the game these days: old and slow, especially compared to its counterpart, WWE Smackdown! The grapple system, with its reversal and power meter, takes too long to execute, which can lead to impatience and a little bit of boredom. At least this sequels adds a few modes the original didn't have six- and eight-man tag-team matches, ladder and cage matches and battle royals.

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