Review: Burnout 3: Takedown (PS2, XB)

Burnout 3: Takedown
Genre: Racing/Driving
Platform: Playstation 2 (also available for Xbox)
ESRB Rating: Teen (Mild Violence)
Developer: Criteron Games
Publisher: Electronic Arts
Release Date: 9/7/04
Official Home Page: Burnout 3

For anyone who has read me in the past, you’re probably aware that I’m not that big a fan of the racing genre. In fact, I have only REALLY liked one racing series, which is of course Gran Turismo, probably because I look at it like it’s an RPG. And I never thought another racing game could possibly take its place in my heart.

So anyway, one day I was at work, and I see everybody crowded around a TV with an Xbox playing some kind of car game where they kept crashing in to stuff. And I thought that was the whole point of the game. It looked fun enough, so I decided to rent it. And it looks like the Gran Turismo franchise may be in trouble. Here’s why:



Story
There is no story to speak of, but there are several modes of play.

First and foremost, this is not your daddy’s racing game. The object is to not only race against other cars, but to cause those other cars to crash. In fact, it becomes a necessity since if they don’t crash, you won’t win. It’s that simple.

The primary portion of the game is the World Tour. This is a tour across 3 “continents” (their words, not mine): USA, Europe, and the Far East. The object is to complete objectives to get medals. There’s a gold, silver and bronze, and the way to get them depends on the course.

Some courses are standard racing courses where you have to race 5 other cars and get first place. Others are called road rage, where you have a certain amount of time to wreck as many rival cars on the course as you can. If you wreck enough, you get the gold. There are also time trials, where you have to beat a certain time to get the medal. And finally, there is the crash courses, where the objective is to go through an intersection, ram into cars, and do as much damage as possible. This is definitely the most fun of the objective types. I’ll talk about it more under gameplay. There are other special modes that you have to unlock, and various other things to do.

All in all, there is always something to do in this game, and it’s hard to not have some sort of objective to complete. And if you don’t want to go for the world tour, there’s always the single events, which allow you to play any of the aforementioned objectives at any place you’ve unlocked, except you get to choose your car and there is no medal.
Rating: 8.0

Graphics
The graphics are really good for a racing game. They are easily up to Gran Turismo quality on the cars themselves. The only problems I had is with other vehicles. Some vehicles just don’t seem very detailed. But most are really good.

There were also some weird glitches at times where a car would blow up, and their tire would roll off and then fly back at the car, though that’s more of a physics issue than graphical.

There seems to be a lot of loading screens also, but they go relatively quickly. In addition, the great vehicle graphics and the detailed courses make up for the small load time. Great job overall here.
Rating: 8.0

Sound
Overall, the sound is good in Burnout. Of course, most of it is cars and the sound of wrecks and such. While I doubt they went to the extent that the makers of Gran Turismo did as far as authentic sounds, it still sounds good.

But personally, I’m not a big fan of the music they chose for the game. There was only one track I had heard before (I Wanna Be Sedated by the Ramones) and the rest were from groups I had never heard before, with a few exceptions (like Jimmy Eat World), and the style just isn’t my style of music. On the good side, the announcer is named DJ Striker, and he gives you a little advice here and there, and he’s not so bad. Some of what he says gets repetitive at times, but not too much so.
Rating: 7.0

Control
If you’ve played a racing game, then you’re pretty much set for this. The X button accelerates and the Square button brakes. Pretty simple.

Since the primary purpose of the game is to crash other cars (called Takedowns), there are a few other buttons that come into play. First is R1, which can be used after you crash to slow down time and it allows you to move your wreck somewhat in midair and crash into other cars. If you crash into a rival car and cause them to wreck, it’s called an Aftertouch Takedown. R1 is also used to Boost, which temporarily increases speed. You get boost power whenever you cause somebody to crash, and do other risky things like driving into oncoming traffic or ALMOST hitting another car, but missing. And on the Crash Junctions, where the ONLY goal is to crash cars, you get an extra bonus if you crash a certain amount; you can hit R2 to cause your car to explode, which damages any cars next to you, and flies you up into the air some, so you can use R1 to maneuver towards an advantageous multiplier. On the crash junctions, those become a necessity, since some levels are impossible to complete without getting 2x or 4x your score.

Overall, they really couldn’t have done the controls any better. They are simple yet effective. Easy to learn and easy to execute. Great job here.
Rating: 10.0

Replayability
This game is a great party type game because of all the different multiplayer modes. You can do standard races, or road rage courses where your goal is to wreck the opponents multiple times. Or you can even do the crash junctions with your friends. Take turns trying to get more money from the crash. That’s what my girlfriend and I did, and we had a blast. Those types are almost like a puzzle, trying to figure out the best way to do it to get maximum destruction AND maximum pointage. And it’s a lot of fun to try and figure that out with another person.

On top of that, there are an INSANE amount of courses. There are all the regular race courses, which have multiple races on them, plus each crash junction location, which has a bunch of different intersections to try out. Plus there are some intersections you do more than once, but with different situations. There is just so much to do.
Rating: 7.0

Balance
They did a great job with this for several reasons. For one, as you progress in the World Tour, the crashes get harder to pull off. Not only do you have to earn more crash money, but it actually gets harder to EARN the money, and you have to spend a lot of time with trial and error trying to get a certain multiplier or bonus.

Also, it’s very balanced when playing the single events. Even though you can unlock insane cars like a Bus or Firetruck, you can’t use them on Single Road Rage events, and whatever cars you do use, your opponents get them too, just to be fair. It’s really nice how they worked it.
Rating: 8.0

Originality
Sure it’s a racing game, but it’s a racing game unlike none I’ve ever seen before. It’s more arcadey than Gran Turismo, but it has the FEEL of the GT game (minus buying parts for your car and stuff). But the added aspect of the crashes brings a whole new element to the table.

I’ll be honest. I’ve never played Ridge Racer or Need For Speed, or any of the previous Burnout games for that matter, but this game is so unlike any I’ve ever seen before.

Hell, this game rewards you for doing shit I’d do in Gran Turismo, like smacking into a guy that’s next to the wall and bumping off of him to get around a turn. They call it a nudge, I call them my turning bitch. Plus all the Crash Junctions is insanely cool. I think this game has taken the racing genre to the next level. Were there a combination between the crashing and unlockables in this game and the ability to buy parts for your cars like GT, I’d be in heaven.
Rating: 8.0

Addictiveness
Normally, when I play a game, I will force myself to put it down so I can go to bed and stuff like that. This time, I couldn’t. I just couldn’t. Sure, I did end up going to bed and getting 2 hours of sleep, but that was only because I was getting tired, and thus sucking in the game, and therefore getting frustrated. But I was fully ready to stay up all night playing.

Why is it so addictive? Well, beyond it being fun as all hell, there is just so much stuff to do. And every race gets you points of some sort. And accumulating enough points, whether it be crash cash, takedowns, breakout points or whatever, you get new cars. You start off with a little compact car and can get muscle cars, sports cars, super cars, special cars, and heavyweights, starting out with a regular pickup, all the way up to the Firetruck. Sure, there aren’t as many cars as in Gran Turismo games, but you don’t have to save up money. And getting these points is as easy as just playing the game. You don’t have to FOCUS on getting them. You just play for a while, and WHAM, you’ve got a new car! And the game is just fun to play.
Rating: 10.0

Appeal Factor
Of course, I don’t know if parents would want their kids to play it, but this is the type of game that anybody can get in to. Even if you don’t like racing games, it’s still fun. It’s simple enough for anybody to get in to, so even the most casual of gamers could really enjoy it.
Rating: 8.0

Miscellaneous
After playing games for as long as I have, I’ve come to realize that it is very difficult for me to be surprised. And when I AM surprised, I become even MORE surprised. That’s how I felt while playing this game.

When I saw the guys here at work playing, I thought, “hey, that looks kinda cool” but didn’t think it’d be incredible or anything. But this game was very well made. Surprisingly well made, considering how little I knew about the previous games in the series and the production studio. So they deserve a lot of credit just for surprising me.
Rating: 8.0

Ratings Summary

Story: 8.0
Graphics: 8.0
Sound: 7.0
Control: 10.0
Replayability: 7.0
Balance: 8.0
Originality: 8.0
Addictiveness: 10.0
Appeal Factor: 8.0
Miscellaneous: 8.0

Average: 8.2 (Excellent)

Short Attention Span Summary
This is honestly one of the most entertaining and addictive games I’ve played in a while. It’s a lot of fun and is very enjoyable, while at the same time, it’s unique from most other games of its type. While Gran Turismo 4 hasn’t been released yet, I’m going to pencil in Burnout 3 as the Driving game of 2004. Everyone should give it a rent. Driving game fans should buy it. It’s that damn good.