Burnout 3: Takedown
It’s tough to describe the experience of playing Burnout 3 without resorting to massively grandiose comments and the sort of language that would seem like hyperbole when applied to a simple videogame. Burnout 3 is a work of art, a piece crafted to such infinitesimal detail that every second of the experience has the capacity to cause the player to gasp with exhilarated pleasure from the opening race of the coupe series right through to the final, devastating Crash Junction on the Burnout world tour.
Why is this? Burnout 3 is an unrealistic, noisy, dirty fight for the finish line. It has no technical merit, you can’t buy mods for your car and there are no scantily clad women trying to convince you to give them your Pink Slip. Well, Burnout 3 is so damn good for all these reasons and more. The last game, Point Of Impact, based itself around driving through traffic really fast, a concept that was so basic and yet so refreshing it hurt. This time around the principle remains roughly the same, but now you have to fight for a win instead of endlessly honing your lorry-dodging skills. The aggressive AI adds an extra dimension to the game without spoiling the pure eyepopping thrill factor of driving the world’s quickest four-wheelers through rush hour traffic and bus loads of holidaymakers.
Now, in addition to the adrenalinepumping thrill of narrowly brushing past a tanker pulling out from a junction, there is the added X factor of slamming your opponent into said lorry and watching his car concertina into something half its former size. In fact, there is nothing more thrilling in games than seeing a 200mph crash happening right in front of your eyes, and watching the wreckage of your opponent’s chassis shoot over your roof with only an inch of clearance.
Needless to say that the extension of Burnout’s crash element works remarkably well, greatly increasing the intensity of each race. However, it’s not just about the basic gameplay, as the entire Burnout experience has been enhanced with licensed soundtracks, a wealth of statistics and plenty of the street attitude. Have no doubt, in the world of gaming it’s now cool to crash. With the new Impact Time feature crashing becomes less of a cause the sort of mayhem that most other racers try to stamp out. Slide your wreck into oncoming vehicles to start pile ups, knock opponents off the road, or just aim for the bus filled with orphans and puppies that is trying to make a left turn.
As is to be expected, the Crash mode has made a welcome return and has several new surprises up its sleeve. Tokens can increase or drastically decrease your chances of gaining that ever elusive Gold Medal, making the Junctions more of a tactical and considered scene of absolute carnage than in previous efforts. The CrashBreaker, a feature that allows the player to detonate their own car to cause even more damage, is a stroke of genius.
However, the largest pat on the back must go to Burnout 3’s new Road Rage mode, which is nothing short of amazing. The concept is simple: drive around a set track for three minutes and take out as frustration and more of a chance to many opponents as possible in the time limit. On most of the tracks it’s possible to rack up around 30 Takedowns as you slam opponents into the wall, into pillars, into oncoming cars and through built-up traffic.
There’s so much to enjoy in Burnout 3 it’s impossible to list it all here, and every player will, undoubtedly, have their own series of ‘oh my god’ stories to tell to mates. On- or offline, the game is a fantastic social experience as you and a number of friends will chase each other through city streets at high speeds or simply attempt to cause as much damage as possible. It’s quite amusing to see six sane human beings attempt to rip each other’s virtual cars apart at 200mph in some of the most scenic places in the world. In fact, Burnout 3 is one of the boldest and most beautiful games ever to grace the Xbox, making it a sure-fire contender for game of the year.