Burnout 3: Takedown Review
Ever since its debut in 2001, the Burnout series has spawned a cult following of gamers who find pleasure in unleashing hell on the roads and against their opponents. Though road rage isn't the only key segment that's made Burnout such a hit with many; it's also the eye-candy. A blistering 60 frames per second in every game makes the Burnout series the quickest racer on the market. What's more is that the frame rate has yet to impact Burnout's overall visual package -- a rarity in this generation. It's always been a wonder on how Criterion manages to pump so much out of the PS2. After the release of Burnout 2, Criterion stated that they believed that they've taped 90% of the PS2's power...only to correct themselves just a few weeks before the release of Burnout 3.
Criterion really does work in mysterious ways. After witnessing Burnout 3 at this past E3, many of us couldn't help but be in complete awe. Visually, Burnout 3 trumps the second in every aspect, ten fold. The frame rate remains superbly intact, but the backgrounds, the texture work, the copious amounts of eye-candy, the lighting, and remarkable sense of speed has been improved drastically. Comparing Burnout 3's backgrounds to those found in the previous installment would be unfair; Burnout 2 looks almost barren in comparison -- there's just far more to look at in Burnout 3's scenery than there was in Burnout 2's. With all of the beautiful looking levels, Criterion knew that they would also have to step it up in terms of texture detail -- and they have. Burnout 3's textures look phenomenal. Everything from the cars, to the trees, to the distant backgrounds, to the ground looks very clean and sharp. What's probably my favorite aspect of the visuals, not including the frame rate, is the eye-candy and the lighting. There's just so much going on in Burnout 3 and so many effects being thrown around that it almost boggles the mind. Then we have the game's marvelous lighting. I would have never expected to see such incredible lighting techniques displayed in an arcade racer, but Criterion has shattered my one-dimensional expectations. The reflections in Burnout 3 match the level of detail found in the top tier games in the racing genre, including Gran Turismo 3 & 4. And what about those crashes? They're downright brutal; I find myself cringing after every time I crash my car. The detail on the crashes is just so damn good. Now, take everything I said about the visuals and double it if you intend to use the game progressive scan compatibility.
Burnout 3 still plays fairly similar to the previous two, with the exception of new techniques; one of which is, of course, the takedown. While I'm sure many already know what the takedown is, I'll still explain it to the five of you who don't. Basically, the takedown is a move where you slam or outsmart your opponent into wiping out. You can either physically crash your opponent by, say, preventing him from leaving a lane causing him to crash head on with a car. Or you can slam your opponent against a railing, sending him soaring into the air. You could also just can nudge him (shunt) from the back by boosting and sending his car violently spinning out of control, and you could just ram him from the side and send him crashing right into a concrete pillar...painful. There are tons of takedowns you can pull off, some of which are special and all of which will fill up your boost meter.
What's great about Burnout 3 is the amount of variety offered in the gameplay. You have your standard races where you fight for 1st place, your basic tournament events; and then you have the always brilliant crash event, the burning lap (time-attack track run through) and newcomer road rage. All of these events are mixed up in a series of nearly 100 races in the game's World Tour mode. My personal favorite is easily the road rage event, where your main objective is to accumulate as many takedowns as possible in the allotted time. Road rage is by far the most thrilling and downright ludicrously awesome event in a racing game to date. Just like any other "meat" mode in a racer, playing through World Tour will enable you to unlock new cars and tracks, among other various little bonuses. Some new additions made to the game include multipliers in the crash mode, an aftertouch takedown feature (allowing you to control your car's momentum after a crash), cash pickups in crash mode, and various other additions. Criterion made it their prime objective to make sure that the third Burnout title plays almost nothing like the first two, and yet still feels like home. Instead of just giving us a rehashed game with slightly prettier graphics, new cars and new tracks, the guys at Criterion went balls out and came up with a completely new game. Lastly, Burnout 3 allows up to 6 people to get together and play simultaneously -- thanks to the game's rather superb online mode. When it's all said and done, there's no denying that Burnout 3 is a feature rich game; in total the game has 40 tracks, 17 game modes and 67 cars for you to wreck havoc with.
Where as in most cases EA Trax compilations are downright...well...horrid, Burnout 3's begs to differ. Boasting a line up of nothing but rock bands, Burnout 3's soundtrack has some pretty strong moments. What I love about the soundtrack is the fact that it features one of my favorite bands of all time, the Burning Brides. Accompanying them on the list are Franz Ferdinand, The Von Bundies, Atreyu, Jimmy Eat World, My Chemical Romance, The Mooney Suzuki and the most awesomely awesome, The Explosion (hope you guys are doing well, wherever you are). But all is not perfect, as the game still has its fair share of cookie cutter crap, such as Yellowcard, New Found Glory, Sugarcult, among a few others. Meanwhile the rest of the lineup is just there, I don't really care much for them. Cookie cutter bands aside, what bothered me the most about the soundtrack is the censoring of Burning Brides' "Heart Full of Black." Who ever made the edit to the song should never come near a song ever again. Not only is the edit poorly done, but it shouldn't have even been done to such a drastic measure. To those wondering, the edited lyrics can be found in the first verse of the song right before the chorus, and they read "...that I would bury my Goddamn halo." Instead the line was replaced with "that I would bury my piece of the action" which is the ending lyric of the second verse. So not only do we have a poorly edited lyric that's out of place, but we also have a lyric that's repeated twice in the song. Honestly, it doesn't take a bloody rocket scientist to figure out that the proper edit should've just been getting rid of the "God" in "Goddamn" and letting the lyric sound "...that I would bury my damn halo." Yes, I know, I'm a bit wound up about the subject, but I just had to point it out. Luckily I also have the Xbox version, so I just burned the original track into the soundtrack instead -- take that EA Trax!
Having spent another three menacing hours in between writing about the game's audio and writing this conclusion, I can wholeheartedly say that Burnout 3 may very well go down in the books as the finest arcade racing game of all time, and one of the best titles the racing genre has ever seen. Criterion has upped the ante by creating a game that doesn't just exceed the previous two, rather it completely eclipses them and most other racers out there.
9/30/2004 Arnold Katayev