Burnout 3: Takedown – PS2 – Review

Think of your favorite car
chase sequence: Ronin, The Bourne Identity, The Matrix Reloaded – any film
will do.  Picture the narrow streets, the busy freeways, and the inevitable
collisions between inferior drivers and unlucky bystanders.  Imagine the cool
camera angles, and how some directors implemented new angles that no one had
ever seen before.  These camera angles, while boring in repetition, are
exhilarating on the first viewing.

Cram all those elements
together and you still won’t have enough to describe Burnout 3: Takedown, a
revolutionary compilation of movie exhilaration and video game innovation.

Every racing game
involves the goal of crossing the finish line first.  Burnout 3 incorporates a
new goal in which you’re able to "take down" your opponents (hence the
subtitle).  This occurs after bashing your opponent from the sides or the
rear.  If you hit him hard enough or ram him into a wall enough times, the car
will spin out, fly into the air, or perform some other movie-style stunt. 
Windshields crack differently depending on the crash; dents appear in multiple
locations, varying greatly between accidents; and the styles in which you can
crash seem to have no end.

Anything less would have
been a disappointment from Criterion, the developer who masterminded the first
two games. 

The breakout feature –
the one that will be remembered by gamers (and mimicked by other game
developers) for years to come – has to do with the way that Takedowns are

When you take someone out
of the race (temporarily), the camera quickly zooms in on the disposed racer. 
The game slows down, enhancing the drama of the crash.  The vehicle may be
flung in a hundred different ways.  Meanwhile, your car continues to move
forward at the same slow-motion pace.  Depending on the camera angle you may
be able to see your car in the corner of the screen.  The Takedown
presentation lasts for only a few seconds – then the game shifts back to your

The transition is
perfect.  The music (comprised of many rock tunes) couldn’t have been more
appropriate.  I can’t express how cool it is to hear The Ramones pumping
through my speakers as I barrel down the road, taking out other drivers like
it’s nobody’s business.

Then I crash.  The music
comes to a screeching halt.  An icon at the top of the screen indicates that I
should hold down the R1 button.  Suddenly my vehicle, which was being tossed
to the curb by a large bus, is moving in slow motion.  Moving the left analog
stick gives me unprecedented control over my crash.  Do I steer my vehicle
into other traffic, causing an enormous traffic jam?  Or do I let fate take
its course and plant the vehicle wherever it chooses?

Out of the corner of the
screen comes my greedy opponent.  He had tried to take me out several times,
but I had evaded his attempts, nearly making it to the finish line.  This was
his chance to make up for lost time and take home the gold trophy.  No, that
can’t happen.  I won’t let it.

I guide my vehicle toward
the direction of my opponent.  It’s not easy to steer a hunk of metal through
the air, but I manage.  I hit him!  His car spins out, flips in the air, and
is turned into a work of junkyard art.

This move, called an
Aftertouch Takedown, is entirely new to the genre.  Never before have you been
able to cause an accident by steering a wrecked vehicle into oncoming traffic.

Both the standard and
Aftertouch Takedowns add a strip of power to your burn meter.  The burn meter
is your boost – hold R1 and let it rip.

The excitement of
boosting is definitely there, but it’s the interaction of the other vehicles
that’ll have you on the edge of your seat.  Burnout 3’s roads are not the
desolate courses of other racing games.  They’re packed with traffic that
follows all the rules, including traffic lights.  They drive on the correct
side of the road, and unlike real drivers, they don’t speed.  This makes them
the perfect target for a careless mistake.

Burnout 3 takes the
"video game" out of the experience, creating a racer that’s almost too real. 
When you drive over the yellow line and speed through two cars for the first
time, tell me if it doesn’t take your breath away.  Give me a ring if you’re
not glued to the television screen with your eyes focused intently on the road
ahead.  You don’t shrug off collisions like you do in other games – you fear
them.  You fear the crunching of the metal, the shattering of glass, the loss
of hope.

Aw crap, did I cause that?

One of the reasons you
fear a collision is a little annoyance that occurs every time you crash.  The
music is excellent, so you’ll want to listen to most of the game’s 44 songs. 
When you crash the music is immediately cut; the only sounds that remain are
sound effects.  Even those are pretty quiet.  This adds to the intensity of
some of the crashes, which is likely why the developers chose to cut the

Burnout 3 isn’t like
other racing games though.  Crashes occur very often.  Chances are you won’t
get through a single song without crashing once.  Sometimes you’ll crash a
dozen times before a song is finished.  This lessens with time, assuming you
become a more skilled racer.  But every crash takes away from the coolness the
game has while racing and performing Takedowns.  As I said before, the music
is great.  Not being able to hear it without interruption – that’s not great.

Is that a reason to toss
Burnout 3 aside and forget it exists?  It’s reason enough to get miffed, but
that doesn’t mean I’m going to stop playing it.  You won’t either.  Burnout 3
is an unbeatable racing package with tons of cool gameplay styles.  The new
Takedown features are out of this world.  The car crashes are the most
realistic this industry has ever seen.  And the replayability is limitless. 
For certain you will be playing this game till the day Burnout 4 is released. 
I know I will be.

Scoring Details

for Burnout 3: Takedown

Gameplay: 9.2
40 track
variations, 17 game modes and 67 vehicles.  Sounds like a lot of statistics to
me.  Ignore them and embrace Burnout 3 for its brilliant gameplay.

The World Tour mode
includes more than the "cross the finish line first" style of races.  You can
engage in Road Rage: a race where your only goal is to take out every marked
car on the road.  Bump them, ram them, do whatever you like.  Just make sure
they’re taken out.

Eliminator removes one
driver every lap until no drivers are left.  Kind of like The Last Comic
Standing but without the funny one-liners.

Grand Prix is a
collection of multiple courses.  You don’t have to win first place in each
race to get the gold trophy in the end, but why risk?  Be the leader every
time to ensure victory.

In Crash mode players get
the chance to cause an enormous chain reaction of car collisions.

There are one-on-one
races where winning gets you a new ride, as well as a few other racing styles
to keep gamers from losing interest (as if they would have otherwise!).

Graphics: 9
Burnout 3 doesn’t
look as polished as Need for Speed Underground, and to that I say: who cares! 
The realistic car crashes more than make up for that.  Technologically Burnout
3 is the most realistic-looking racer to date.  It may not have the
photo-quality graphics of Gran Turismo 3 and 4, but does Gran Turismo have
realistic car crashes?  Nope.

Sound: 8.5
compilation of rock music from new and up-and-coming artists.  Like Blink 182,
Barenaked Ladies and other top rock bands, Jimmy Eat World uses EA Trax to
debut a new song from their upcoming album, "Futures."  I really wish EA would
release a two-disc set with all 44 songs, because many of them are not yet
available to buy.  Some of them may not be released outside of Europe, making
them difficult to find.

Unfortunately this great
music is interrupted by frequent car crashes.  It may add to the intensity,
but I’d rather have my soundtrack without interruption.

Difficulty: Medium
It’s hard to get
gold in every race, but Burnout 3 will not keep you down for too long.  It’s
more of a "racing game for everyone" than an extreme challenge you’ll spend
weeks trying to master.

Concept: 9
Burnout 3 flies
out of the garage, barrels down the road, and leaves you wondering what else
the game industry could do if they analyzed the film industry’s greatest
achievements.  That’s what Criterion did before conceptualizing their best
racer yet, a game that looks and plays like a movie.

Multiplayer: 9
Several online
game modes for up to six players.  The only catch: it’s only available to
gamers with broadband Internet access.  Offline multiplayer is limited to two
players, but it’s still very entertaining.

Overall: 9.2
One of the year’s
best.  Burnout 3: Takedown is an instant classic.  I have no doubt in my mind
that my love for it will increase over the next several months.  Electronic
Arts has a way of doing that with their games.  (I’m still playing NFL Street
Vol. 1 as frequently as the new releases.)  Several million gamers purchased
Need For Speed Underground for its graphics, impressive speed, and amazing
customization features.  Burnout 3 has two out of three of those elements
(great graphics and jaw-dropping speed), and includes impeccable interactive
crash sequences that you won’t find in any other game.