Gamer Review: Small improvements mean big fun
First off, the graphics get polished up to make it look like you weren't a sucker for, a) buying a game you've already played; and, b) buying your 360. The most significant visual upgrade is with the lighting. Daytime scenery looks even crisper and the reflections off the cars themselves make you forget that this is just a game (to an extent).
The gameplay remains the same and untouched. Basically, you either have to find all the shortcuts in the game to be able to get to the finish line as quickly as possible, or you have smash other opponents into the environments in order to gain boosts to outrace them. Such a simple concept can get very challenging, especially when the computer opponents just won't get off your butt.
My favourite part of both games is still the crash challenges in which you have to fling your vehicle into traffic to cause the biggest explosion chain reaction. Just seeing all those cars explode brings a tear of joy to my eye.
There are many achievements to unlock both on and offline. You can get achievements for completing the single player mode to perfection or by just going online and playing 10 games. The single player campaign is fun so the online component (for leaderboard bragging rights and achievements) is where the main replay factor comes in.
The one thing that I was disappointed with was some slowdown that was apparent in some of the levels. I don't remember any slowdown on the original Xbox version of the game. With this being a new and more powerful console, I wouldn't expect any slowdown.
If you love the original game and have Xbox live (and have the money) the decision to buy this version is a no-brainer. If you have the original game for the 360, you may just want to rent this for the weekend because some of the new crash courses may not justify another $70 purchase. One tip: don't go driving after you've played this game for a few hours. You may get into trouble.
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