Sonic Team can normally be relied upon to deliver the goods. Take NiGHTS for example, here we have an original and extremely addictive points-scoring extravaganza, and probably my favourite game of all-time. So, when news of Burning Rangers began to exhume, my appetite was certainly wetted. It seemed very promising from the early beginnings, and now that I have played it substantially, I can still only say that it remains promising. Allow me to explain.
When I discovered that BR was to adopt a modified NiGHTS engine and allow the player full 3D movement, unlike NiGHTS which was "on-rails", I thought that BR really was going to turn-out to be something extra-special. However, it hasn't quite turned out like that. When you first begin the game you will more than likely be very off-put by the awkward controls, confused as to exactly what to do, and annoyed at being constantly engulfed in flames which appear to come from thin-air. This annoyance should soon evaporate after you have played for a good couple of hours and become more accustomed as to what you are expected to achieve, specifically to put-out a variety of fires in numerous locations and save the trapped victims. This would all be fine and well if not for either the Saturn's technical limitations or a lack of programming ability from Sonic Team. I would imagine it to be a combination of the both. To be frank, the visuals are very rough indeed. Sure, the level design is pretty ambitious, the 3D models appear solid enough and the cut-scenes are well-animated. However, it is impossible to escape the huge amounts of clipping and pop-up which rear their ugly-heads and the ever-present slow-down which seems to afflict the majority of polygon and sprite-intesive zones.
The music is uninspired also. There is excellent Japenese voice-acting from your group, telling you where to go next (if you can understand it...). But for the most-part there is a lack of music for many areas, and when it does finally arrive it's forgettable and flat to preach the gospel truth. The control is where BR suffers, arguably to the detriment of the all-important gameplay. There is an auto-jump facility within the game which can basically lead you into some very sticky situations. For example, if you wander too close to the edge of a ledge you may find yourself auto-jumping into the air when you specifically don't want to. This sometimes results in you attaining a singed rectum and the swift release of your joypad through the nearest open window. It is, in a word, frustrating. Secondly, although you have the option to rotate the game's camera, it only revolves 90 degrees for every push of the l or R button, often leaving you messing-about with the camera position when you should be concentrating on the game itself, resulting in a most jerky and sometimes unpleasant gaming experience. Once again, annoying.
The bottom-line is that BR simply isn't as much fun to play as NiGHTS, and at the end-of-the-day, that's what playing games is all about, enjoyment. It's also very easy to complete, which I did within a few hours of booting up for the first time. Admittedly, I didn't gain A grades for each area, but it's still disappointing nevertheless.
Like I said at the start, BR is a promising game. Don't get me wrong, I still play the game, for it's originality more than anything. However, if I were you, I'd try and play it before you purchased it. To some people, BR is an acquired taste.
Review By: Michael West