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Burnout introduced us to a world of a high speed racing and awesome crashes. Burnout 2: Point of Impact took it to a whole new level and put a bigger focus on the crashing. I think Burnout 2 is where the series started to take shape but it’s the next game that defined the series. Developed by Criterion Games and published by EA, Burnout 3: Takedown was released for PlayStation 2 and Xbox in September, 2004. For this review, I played the Xbox version.
Burnout 3 is an arcade styled racing game just like the previous entries but it’s faster and more action packed. You can accelerate, brake, and drift. Driving dangerously fills up your boost bar. Dangerous driving includes tailgating opponents, near missing traffic, driving on the wrong side of the road, drifting, escaping crashes, and taking down opponents. Taking down an opponent will not only grant you boost but also extend your boost bar with an additional segment and you can have up to a max of four. Crashing will result in losing a segment. Unlike the previous two games, you can activate the boost at any time and boost can be stolen from opponents by rubbing them, slamming them, shunting them, grinding against them, and by denying a takedown. Boosting is important and can often be the key to winning races and setting record times.
Burnout 3 features an incredible sense of speed and impressive destruction making for one of the most exhilarating and addictive racing games I’ve ever experienced. As the name implies, takedowns are a big part of the game. You not only want to beat your opponents, you want to destroy them. You want to ram into them causing them to crash into buildings, traffic vehicles, and pillars, and watch parts of their vehicle come flying off as they roll along the road, causing a pileup of traffic vehicles. One of the more unique takedown types is the aftertouch takedown. When you crash, you can enter impact time and steer your wreckage to get in the way of incoming opponents and if they crash into your wreckage, it’s considered an aftertouch takedown. My only issue with this is that the camera doesn’t always position itself in a spot where you can easily see incoming opponents. Another unique takedown type is the Signature Takedown. This is when you take an opponent down in a certain way, during certain events, and on certain tracks. The racing in Burnout 3 is more than just driving around a track. It’s not just a race to the finish. It’s a battle.
There’s a good number of vehicles to choose from and they’re split up into groups or series, they have different stats in top speed and weight, and you can change their colors. Most vehicles need to be unlocked by earning enough Burnout points, performing enough takedowns, winning Face Offs, earning enough gold medals, earning enough crash dollars, and by winning specific World Tour events. The World Tour is the meat of the single player. You can participate in events spread out across three regions; the USA, Europe, and the Far East. You can select the region and event from the Crash Nav screen and you have to complete events to unlock more. You’ll participate in familiar events like races, Grand Prix races, face offs, and crashes. New events include Road Rage, Burning Lap and its variants, and Eliminator which is an event where the racer in last at the end of each lap is eliminated. The difficulty in the World Tour mode ramps up nicely. You start out with slower cars like those in the Compact series and work your way up towards the Super and Special vehicles which consist of some of the fastest cars in the game.
The Burning Lap event is where you race around a track as fast as you can in an effort to beat the record time. The Preview Lap event is similar except you get to drive a vehicle you haven’t unlocked yet. And many of the Special Events events are also similar except you’ll earn a postcard as a reward for earning the gold medal. Burning Lap and it’s variants are the only events in the game I don’t really care for. You basically need to boost all the way around the track and one crash can be the difference between earning the gold or silver medal. The event, itself, is fine, I’m just not good at it, but my main reason for not liking it is because it’s nowhere near as exciting as the other events.
Road Rage is by far one of the best events in the game. It’s my favorite. The objective is to take down as many opponents as you can within the time limit. The AI will try and take you down and what makes it more challenging is that your vehicle takes damage and if you crash enough times, you’re done and the event is over. It’s very action packed and intense. One of the reasons it’s so great is because it’s just non-stop. The event pushes you to keep going. Whenever an opponent crashes, they will re-spawn ahead of you down the road so you don’t have to brake or slow down to locate and engage the next opponent. It’s one of the most addictive events in the game. Even if I kept losing, I would never get frustrated. I was always happy to keep jumping back in to try again. You can set up a Road Rage event outside of the World Tour and I could play this shit all day.
Crashing has always been one of the highlights of the series but in Burnout 3, it’s a focal point. Whether it’s a Race, Face Off, Eliminator race, or Road Rage – causing your opponents to crash is encouraged. When you do cause a crash, the camera will focus on the wrecked opponent in slow motion for a brief time, which is often satisfying to watch, before snapping back to your vehicle. It should be noted that the Takedown Camera can be turned off. If you want to see some really crazy crashes and destruction, you’ll want to play through the Crash events and there’s a ton of them. As you complete the events, more are unlocked, and you’ll earn new vehicles for the Crash mode by earning enough Crash Money. It’s one of the coolest events/modes in the game.
Just like in the previous game, the goal of each Crash event is to drive into traffic vehicles and cause as much destruction as possible. Each one is like a puzzle and some zones or junctions include ramps. You want to crash into the right vehicle in the right spot at the right angle and at the right time. And, of course, you can steer your wreckage after the initial crash. If you did it correctly, traffic vehicles will start crashing into each other and after enough have crashed, you can activate the crashbreaker which is when you blow up your vehicle to cause more destruction. There are pickups scattered around each Crash zone like boosts, bonus cash, cash multipliers, and crashbreakers. There’s also heartbreakers which cut your score in half. You want to stay away from those. It’s the multipliers you want to go for. Unfortunately, like the crashes in the other events, the crash camera here doesn’t always position itself in ideal spots which can negatively affect your crashbreaker. Crashbreakers not only cause more destruction but also give you another chance to steer your wreckage. You may miss a pickup during the initial crash or land near one and the crashbreaker gives you another chance to get it. However, the camera will often switch to focus on the traffic destruction and then switch back to you when the crashbreaker is ready but sometimes at an angle where you can’t see the pickup. It can be annoying.
You can set up your own events in the other game modes outside of the World Tour and you can even go for record times in the Time Attack mode. The game also features several multiplayer modes including a local co-operative Crash mode called Team Crush. I didn’t get to try the multiplayer but that’s okay because there’s enough single player content here to keep you occupied for a long time and the AI opponents do put up a good fight.
Rubberbanding is present which is to be expected. It’s one of the reasons the races are so exciting. Plus, AI opponents are very aggressive. They will ram and slam into you on purpose and while you’re trying to avoid their attempts at running you off the road, you also have to avoid traffic vehicles and other obstacles. Most of the time, an opponent is not too far behind you no matter how well or fast you drive. In the later events with the faster vehicles, if an AI opponent passes you, they can sometimes gain a significant lead making it feel like it’s impossible to catch up. If I lost the lead, race, or event, it was usually my own fault but the AI can sometimes exhibit cheap behavior. It was only during one Face Off that I would say the game really fucked me and it was very noticeable. I maintained the lead for most of the race and during the last lap, shortly before reaching the finish line, my opponent blew passed me seemingly out of nowhere and I immediately began boosting but couldn’t catch up and I lost. It was absurd. This was the only time I felt cheated out of a win by the AI.
Burnout 3 easily has the best tracks in the series up to this point. The tracks in each region take you to various different locations. You’ll drive on highways, dirt roads, bridges, through tunnels, and jungles. There’s a nice mix of urban and rural locations and traffic vehicles will populate the roads. There’s also all kinds of little objects you can drive into that will scatter on the roads like cones and signs among other things. There are no weather effects but some tracks appear to be set in different seasons. The tracks contain a lot of detail making each location standout. You’ll drive passed storefronts, advertisements, different signs, and the only thing missing is pedestrians roaming around. Running over pedestrians would have been awesome.
When it comes to the visuals, Burnout 3 blows away its predecessors. Everything from the cars to the tracks is vibrant and colorful. Vehicle models do reflect their surroundings, and crashes result in a destructive feast for the eyes. Vehicle models will be deformed, sparks will fly, glass will shatter and break, and vehicle parts will be launched in various directions. EA published the game and I guess that means the developers were forced to advertise other brands and EA games like Battlefield and Need for Speed on things like billboards peppered throughout the tracks. Regardless, the environments are well detailed and varied. On the audio side, Burnout 3 is one of the games that’s part of the EA Trax initiative which means the soundtrack is full of licensed music and it’s accompanied by DJ Stryker. The soundtrack primarily consists of alternative rock and punk. You can turn off individual songs and the Xbox version does support custom soundtracks so that’s pretty cool. The sound effects are excellent. You’ll hear glass break and metal crunch during crashes. Vehicles roar as they speed along roads, the boosting sounds extremely powerful, and you’ll hear zips as you speed passed traffic vehicles. On the technical side, the frame rate did dip frequently in the Crash mode/events, usually when the screen was filled with a ton of vehicles and destruction. Other than that, the game ran smooth.
I had an incredible time with Burnout 3. It’s an extremely fun and addictive experience that will keep you glued to the screen for hours. One night I decided to play for a little bit before going to bed. I started at 9pm and ended up going to bed at 2am. It’s the kind of game where I found myself saying “just one more” after every event. Progressing through the World Tour is great because you’re frequently rewarded and there’s a lot of vehicles and awards to unlock. Furthermore, there’s a ton of content. The World Tour mode should keep you occupied for a very long time thanks to the amount of events on offer. The game is challenging and rarely feels unfair. The AI may showcase some cheap behavior from time to time but more often than not, crashes and losses were my own fault. And even if I did lose, the gameplay is so exhilarating, I didn’t even care. I never wanted to stop. The Crash mode has been expanded upon and it’s even more fun than it was in the last game. Best of all, even after you’ve seen everything the game has to offer or unlocked everything, you can still come back to it and have a great time. Burnout 3 is infinitely replayable.
Burnout 3 is by far one of the greatest racing games ever made. In fact, I would even say it’s one of the greatest games ever made. I would absolutely recommend it to anyone. Even if you’re not a fan of the genre, I would still suggest you give this a shot. This is the kind of game that was great when it came out and is still amazing to this day. It’s timeless. It’s a game that keeps you at the edge of your seat from start to finish. It keeps you engaged, it’s exciting, it’s replayable, and it’s just pure fun. Definitely check it out.