reviews\ Sep 20, 2011 at 8:00 pm

Burnout Crash! Review


It’s been quite a while since we’ve seen a new game in the Burnout series. The last time we hit these chaotic city streets was a few years ago, when we were making the rounds in the open-world Burnout Paradise. Criterion Games has been busy since then, but it hasn’t forgotten where it came from, as it’s produced an interesting, downloadable game for Xbox Live Arcade that takes the anarchy of Burnout’s Crash mode and crams it into a tidy – yet destructive – little package.

Burnout Crash takes the rules that normally apply with the mode – destroy as much stuff as you can within a given time frame – and turns it on its head, with a new gameplay concept and a top-down perspective. Granted, it’s not the same as causing a ruckus as you would in Burnout 3: Takedown, but considering we haven’t had a strong Crash mode in Burnout games for some time, we’ll take what we can get.

In the game, you guide cars into traffic, then use explosive Crashbreakers to continuously detonate your cars and take out others. It’s kind of strange how your vehicle can hold up to such damage over several minutes at a time – it’s probably that Progressive insurance plan. There are various modes that change up the rules a little bit, so you’re not just blowing yourself to bits without getting somewhere.

In Rush Hour, you’ve got 90 seconds to destroy everything that you can, whether it’s traffic coming your way or rebounding cars into buildings to send them crashing down to the ground. They take a bit of damage, but you’ve got no shortage of vehicles to launch into them. Along the way, you’ll need to perform certain duties, like bringing down an industrial-strength bulldozer, clearing the way for an ambulance to score extra health (you’ve got five misses in a round, marking the cars that got away), and a pizza truck. This truck in particular is important; you spin a Wheel of Pizza to see what kind of power-up you can achieve during your run, whether it’s a sinkhole that earns you bonus points for each car it sucks up, or a restart from your regular position, having to redo the crash all over again. Beware, there are positive and negative rewards.

Pile Up requires you to do damage to vehicles without exploding. Then, it activates an Inferno mode where the pyromaniac in you gets to destroy everything. Road Trip offers a more mission-based set-up, where you go as long as you can without missing cars. You’ll earn assorted goodies along the way, including traffic-seeking missiles, cop cars that block an intersection, and a natural disaster – such as a tornado – that cleans up the mess afterward and earns you extra bank.

What’s cool about these modes is that they all tie in to the AutoLog. Like the other games that use the service, it keeps track of your best times and compares them to others that are playing against you. It’s good fun competing against others, and the further you go, the more stuff you’ll unlock, including additional stages (there are quite a few here) and more cars. Just wait till you get behind one of those monster trucks, baby.

The gameplay isn’t as in-depth as most driving games, as you spend most of your time pinballing around and strategizing your next move. It’s not bad, and you can really rack up some major dollar value – in the $50 million range or higher – if you’re good enough.

Honestly, though, Criterion should’ve skipped out on the Kinect support. It’s clearly one-note, requiring you to step in a direction and jump to direct your car. It’s lame and gets old quick. What’s more, you can’t play the game’s multiplayer party mode unless you’re using it. Good if you’re a bit buzzed on alcohol, I suppose.

The visuals aren’t amazing by any means, as the same top-down perspective is used and all the cars and buildings are micro-sized from a distance. Still, it’s nice to see everything that’s happening here, and the frame rate never slows down enough that it frustrates you as you’re using your Crashbreakers. It could’ve been worse.

As for the audio, the music is an inspired mix of some great 80’s tunes and entertaining party picks. The sound effects are on the money as well, with lots of booms and cool little entrance themes. The announcers, though, do get a little obnoxious. The main guy just needs to shut the hell up, and you might groan a little bit the first time you hear a redneck speak. Yes, a redneck.

Even though we could’ve done without the audio annoyances and the Kinect support, Burnout Crash is hardly a wreck. We were startled at how well Criterion was able to manipulate the gameplay into a fun strategic format, while maintaining the kind of spirit that Burnout has become known for. Until we get a real Burnout game again with a Crash mode re-installed into it, this will certainly do.

[Reviewed on Xbox 360]


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