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Playstation 2






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Criterion Games



T (Teen)



September 2004



- Blazingly fast gameplay

- Scads of great car crashes

- Lots and lots of events

- Brilliant system of rewards

- Online play



- Music may be questionable,
depending on your tastes

- May possibly have negative effects on your own driving  



Review: Burnout 3: Takedown (XB)

Review: Burnout 2: Point of Impact (GC)

Review: Burnout 2: Point of Impact (XB)



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Burnout 3: Takedown

Score: 9.4 / 10

I'd like to start out by saying that Burnout 3: Takedown is the Best Racing Game Ever Made. You might feel this is somewhat presumptuous, especially considering my previous candidate for Best Racing Game Ever Made was the arcade version of Out Run. What you should understand is this: that Burnout 3 is a game that pretty much any gamer can and probably will enjoy. Don't like racing games? It doesn't matter. Prefer the Gran Turismo-style gearhead racing games? Also, doesn't matter.


burnout 3 review          burnout 3 review


Burnout 3 is all about (A) speeding and (B) smashing, and both elements are gloriously intertwined.  As with most racing games, the general goal is to reach the finish line before everyone else, but the best way to accomplish this task is to ram everyone else right off the road (or off a bridge or into a tree.) This doesn't really disable them for very long, as they pop back into the race mere seconds later, but it does boost your turbo meter. There are other minor ways to get extra speed, like driving into oncoming traffic or narrowing swerving by friendly cars, but destroying your opponents is undoubtedly the best way to get ahead.





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And when you manage to cause misfortune to one of your enemies, they don't just fall off the road. No, the camera pulls back and you get to watch the fruits of your malicious labor, as the car tumbles, turns, flips, and pretty much disintegrates into a pile of pitiful scrap metal, a twisted image of its former glory. I wouldn't call these physics realistic, but they're appropriately exaggerated to the point where it looks believably absurd. These pullbacks are a little distracting at 


first, since the race continues while this is all happening (albeit in slow motion), but it certainly adds to the excitement, and can be turned off if you deem it so.


These elaborate crash scenes also occur whenever your own car meets it maker, although with a minor twist - the titular "Takedown". As you watch your car twist and tumble gracefully, you can put the action in slow motion and still steer. If your opponents are nearby, you can still smash into them, in attempt to bring down your fellow racers with you. All of this happens with mystical, soothing ocean noise in the background, as if God Himself had invited you to His personal destruction derby. Unlike the closest comparable game F-Zero GX Burnout 3 barely punishes you for crashing. You'll lose a couple seconds and perhaps some of your turbo meter, but for the most part, you can crash as often as you want without seeing a Game Over screen.


It's amazing that the aging PS2 can pull these things off and still manage to look amazing - overall, the graphics aren't quite as crisp as its Xbox counterpart and it tends to drop frames in the messier of crash sequences, but Criterion certainly knows how to put their Renderware engine to use.


Of course, with a game with this much emphasis on crashing, it would be foolish to just include a standard racing mode. Mimicking the structure of EA Big's equally brilliant SSX3, Burnout 3 gives you a massive amount of events to choose from, in locations ranging from the USA to Europe to Asia. Perhaps the most noticeable of these is the Road Rage mode, where the goal is simply to make as many opponents crash as possible in a certain period of time (although you can only wipe out a certain number of times in this mode before it ends.) The drivers here are much more aggressive, but probably the most action-packed, flat out fun mode.


burnout 3 review          burnout 3 review


The other most notable standouts are the Crash Events. The formula is this: you start off with a view of Car A, then the camera zooms into some busy street or intersection, Point B. Your job is to take Car A to Point B and cause as much mayhem as possible, causing pileups vehicles including, but limited to, cars, trucks, RVs, buses, trolleys and (my favorite) trucks hauling lumber. The more chaos you cause, the more points you get. From a gameplay perspective, there's not much to do this mode other than swerving into score multipliers, but it's a good outlet for all of those days you're spent stuck in traffic and you really, REALLY just want to see things get destroyed. The fact that you can do all of this online just adds even more to a value that was already incredible.


There are a few other types of events like Grand Prix. The only really questionable ones are where you have to beat a posted time or race against a single opponent - with no one to bash into, the game feels oddly empty and lacks the intensity that the rest of the events bring.


The developers of Burnout 3 were clearly into the concept of positive reinforcement, because pretty much every race you finish potentially even the ones you do terrible in - you unlock some sort of bonus. It may be a new car, new events unlocked the game's loading screens taunt you with the awesome vehicles like tractor trailers that will be under your control when you reach a certain goal, whether it be scoring enough points, taking down enough cars or winning gold medals. It's this sort of terribly addicting gameplay that will destroy pretty much any plans you had for the rest of the day.


This near unending amount of praise actually comes to a slight stutter when it comes the soundtrack. The music might offend some the play list is full of artists like Sugarcult and New Found Glory. If those, or bands like those, offend you, you may want to shut off the more annoying tracks, or just get the Xbox version (which lets you play your own ripped music.) That being said, it's also far from the worst licensed soundtrack out there, and is appropriately tolerable.


Burnout 3: Takedown is the type of game that appeals to the very basic of collective human subconscious.   It isn't just a game, it fulfills a very basic need the need to destroy in the same way that we need food and water. You may not like racing games. You may scoff and think crashing cars to be the basest form of entertainment, only appropriate for boring weekday nights on the Fox network. But once you play it, once you feel the thin exterior of car crumple into a ball of shattered glass and aluminum as it goes flying twenty feet into air before smashing into a building, ricocheting off onto the street and skidding into neighboring vehicles - that is the moment that you realize that Criterion somehow burned pure, sadistic joy into the tiny pits of Burnout 3's DVD, and created one of the year's best games.


- Kurt Kalata

(October 14, 2004)

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