The real need for speed. Review

Burnout 3: Takedown Info

genre

  • Racing

players

  • 1 - 8

Publisher

  • EA

Developer

  • Criterion
  • Criterion Games

Release Date

  • 12/31/1969
  • Out Now

Platform

  • PS2
  • Xbox

rating

The real need for speed.

Like any racing fan worth his weight in oil, I have a sweet tooth for crashes,

pile-ups and mangled steel. Realism is all well and good, but not when it comes

at the expense of action. All the car-tuning and customizing in the world can’t

save a crashless racer from being a few insurance quotes shy of a worthy spot

in my collection.

Criterion Games, the developer behind EA’s new Burnout

3: Takedown
, apparently agrees with me wholeheartedly – their game happens

to be one the most thrilling, pulse-pounding racers I have ever played. Though

there are a few notable bumps in the road, they don’t keep this one from racing

to the top of my must-have list.

Burnout

3
is

a very thorough racer, featuring 40 tracks, 17 different game modes and 67 vehicles,

though not everything is available right from the start. Much like Tony

Hawk
, the game requires you to win medals and races and take plenty

of risks to unlock vehicles and events around the world.

Unlike most other racers, though, safety can actually get you into a heap

of trouble in Burnout

3
, as the game rewards you for being a royal pain behind the wheel

by increasing your ‘Boost’ meter when you perform reckless moves. Driving

on the wrong side of the road, just barely missing traffic, drifting around

corners and catching air all lead to nice Boost gains, but what really maxes

out your meter is causing your opponents to crash (the ‘Takedown’ part

of the title). You can string moves together as well – combining a little

fender rubbing, shunting, and tailgating is heartily encouraged.

But don’t think this road rage is exclusive to you. The more aggressive you

drive, the more irritated other cars get. The result is a pack of pissed-off

digital speed demons bent on watching you in their rear view mirror tumbling

end over end in a hail of splintered steel.

And you’ll pick out each and every splinter if you choose to use Burnout

3
‘s sweet “Aftertouch” feature. During any crash sequence, holding

down a single button throws the game into a Max

Payne
-esque slow-mo and allows you to minutely guide your car with

the D-pad or analog sticks. If you hit another car during an Aftertouch, you’ll

rack up oodles of points, especially if the car is one of your five competitors.

This also helps multiply your boost and makes the whole wipeout experience

a functional boon instead of the traditional bust.

The meat meets the metal in the game’s World Tour campaign, in which you compete

in over 150 events, from not-so-simple Time Trials to six-car Single races and

Grand Prix events. There are a plethora of race types to enjoy, including cool

variants like Road Rage (take down as many cars as possible in a certain amount

of time) and Lap Eliminator (after each lap, the guy in last place is eliminated).

You’ll face some of the game’s most thrilling challenges in the Crash events.

Here you speed through an intersection to produce the biggest pile-up and

most spectacular crash possible. Points are tallied for the amount of damage

caused; the trick is to find the most advantageous path to destruction. In

a new twist, you can actually blow up your own car at any point, effectively

turning your ride into a bomb. It’s

terrific fun and holds up well over time; long after you’ve claimed the gold,

you’ll return

to cause more chaos.

Perhaps the brightest feather in Burnout 3‘s crowded cap is

its blinding sense of speed. From the very first race, the speed is exhilarating.

You careen through traffic as if shot out of a cannon, giving the gameplay a

rare kind of urgency and intensity. And as you unlock different vehicle classes

(compacts, muscle cars, sporty cars, etc.), the speed becomes more hazardous,

challenging and exciting.

Aesthetically, it all comes together quite well. The particle system is just

jaw-dropping – sparks fly as you scrape against walls, railings and other vehicles

– and the damage modeling is unmatched. Vehicles literally shatter in all sorts

of realistic ways, raining shrapnel, ripped doors and broken glass all over

the raceway. The chaos factor is on tilt in this one.

The cars themselves, however, aren’t the most detailed rides on the digital road.

Some gloss and sheen help out a bit in both versions (the Xbox version is much

cleaner and smoother overall), but compared to other racing games, the vehicles

are somewhat bland. The PS2 version suffers from some strange gamma issues as

well as noticeably longer load times, though neither console shows any hiccups

or slowdown. The framerate is consistent and silky-smooth throughout.

Another flat tire is the gross omission of any manual replay feature. This game

is such a feast for the senses, you’ll really want to watch an entire race

from start to finish using all the standard replay features like multiple vantage

points, rewind and slow motion. Sadly, this plea is left for the inevitable Burnout

4
.

While

the game sounds fine, the music lacks any decent variety. It might be a sign

of the times or a sign of my age, but I’m just not into contemporary alternative

pop rock. Luckily, Xbox owners can import their own music via the Xbox hard drive;

PS2 owners will have to grin and bear it or mute it.

Racing game purists will also dislike the lack of any sort of vehicle customization,

the paltry choice of three colors and the lack of alternate track routes, but

these are hardly deal breakers when you consider the sheer number of modes

and consistently exciting gameplay.

And long before you complete the single player modes, you’ll want to take this

puppy online via Xbox Live or the PS2 online adapter. Up to six players can play

any of the modes with up to eight players taking turns in the Crash

events. The connection on both systems is very solid. Players with high pings

or poor connections will warp around the track and annoy you a bit, but that’s

fairly standard for a racing game.

Burnout 3, however, is anything but standard. With outstanding

physics, an unmatched sense of speed and a wealth of game types, it easily

blows the doors off the competition. And that’s all the realism I need.

REVOLUTION REPORT CARD

Rating9
Very fun
Incredible sense of speed
Unmatched damage system
A wealth of game types & events
Solid graphics
Horrible music...
...so use your own!
No replays?
No customization