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Posted: Sep 23, 2004 @ 10:34 am GMT-0600
Updated: Feb 17, 2023 @ 01:17 pm GMT-0600
Sorting Tags: Article Review, Article Software, Articles, Burnout 3: Takedown,

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Platform Playstation 2
Dev/publisher Criterion Games / EA
Release (UK): 10 September 2004
Review code: Pal / Europe
Wide screen mode: Yes
S/Sound : Yes DPL2
60Hz: Yes
Online content: Yes – racing & stats

Arcade games are one thing which would slice this community in half. One half which can’t abide them and the other which will gladly put a loving arm around both the sim and arcade racing genre.

I have often wondered whether arcade games will ‘stay’. I think developing for realism is vogue one year, essential the next and ‘so last year’ after that. I guess it depends on exactly which young Director sits on the board that particular year. Of course there’s that half-breed, please-all game which the marketeers like to market, but we at RSC like to bin it. Games which don’t know if they’re a sim or an arcade game like Ford Racing, R:Racing, Juiced, World Racing, Corvette. Oh it’s a long list. Sure some make a fair game, but the rest are big stinking unwashed pr persons sweating pants.

Burnout3 knows what it is. Criterion the Developer set out to create an arcade game and I’m glad to say they’ve done a storming job.

Reviewing B3 is tough. The game is not far from perfect, so it’s more a case of what doesn’t it do and what doesn’t it do brilliantly, rather than what makes it bad. It really is awesome.

I think it’s time for a soundbyte. A little quote to sum up the game for those who can’t be bothered to read. A little sentence to draw readers in. How about “B3 is the dogs swingers, filled with dynamite and exploding in your face.”

I don’t want to kiss B3’s pert rear bumber too much, because it’s not perfect. But it is amazing in contrast to other available games in the similar ‘race with traffic on street circuit’ games.

The game essentially comprises over 100 different races on many circuits, in 3 distinct areas. The races usually necessitate racing in traffic against competitors with whom you need to smash off the track or stay well ahead to win. If you don’t smash them off the track, they will trash you instead. The other core gameplay element is the boost button. Various scrapes/slides will earn you boost and not just any boost. When you’re rocking along with boost engaged, the camera lens focuses and zooms slightly and you’ll find your concentration has to be ramped up by a factor of 10, or you’ll drop it into an oncoming vehicle or barrier. With Boost engaged the game runs at such a pace you will be amazed and startled. The adrenaline rush is like nothing ever before in an arcade game. This has to be experienced to be believed.

Ah –ha I hear you say…this has been done before. Yes it has. Chase HQ was brilliant with the boost, but that was the eighties. Apart from the amazing speed, here you don’t come off the boost when you career into a wall. You’ll loose some pace, but you won’t crash out. For me it makes all the difference because you can stay on that adrenalin high until you make a fatal error.

When you do crash, you C-R-A-S-H with aplomb. Firstly the graphics are so amazing there’s a huge amount of fire, sparks and energy going on. The audio is slowed down and sounds fabulous. You can see every glass shard, wheel’s fly off, bodies crumple. The energy dissipation shown graphically is just amazing. It’s like watching Turismo replays, you’ll never tire of it. Also you can apply some after-touch. Directing your crashed car slowly into the oncoming competitor who wiped you out has a sense of satisfaction unrivalled in other arcade games.

Handling

In a non-sim? Is there any point in discussing? Yes there is… it’s not dull handling, it’s not boring it’s not easy or unengaging as simmers would tend to think. I totally understand this is not rewarding in the same way as a quality sim and it won’t take as long to learn. But perhaps you have to play to understand. You have to induce oversteer to get around most corners if you want to keep your speed. With a tap of the brake pedal and then back on the gas, it’s a matter of holding the corner (a la Ridge Racer) but not pointing too much at the barriers. Perfecting this is very hard because the game runs at such a pace that you have to get into a slide at the right nano-second or you’ll either scrape the barrier and loose pace, or at worst you’ll hit a solid wall or competitor and enjoy the carnage which will ensue. Add to this an often undulating circuit, tightening corners, inclines, declines, competitors, traffic and the sheer pace of the game (and then boost) you will suddenly have your hand-eye ability put into question.

Online

Sadly I had allsorts of problems being booted from the server, not getting on at all or not getting a race list. So I have yet to get successfully online. This is possibly a problem at my end and not indicative of the game.

Gripes

As I said, close but not perfect. The slow-mo crashing/aftertouch cameras need some work as often they’re pointing in the wrong direction making it impossible to steer into competitors. The presentation is typically EA stuff. All very Las Vegas and noisy. Not to my taste, but I think I’m a touch older than the intended market! Oops! Another nail in B3’s otherwise perfect tyre is the PS2 only comes with Dolby ProLogicII sound. Not Dolby Digital. Sadly my machine handles DD not DPL2 so I feel I’m missing out. I’d rather have sacrificed some graphics draw distance and textures than miss quality audio.

A final gripe (oh dear – it’s own paragraph – must be bad). The AI has elastic tendancies. It sure is clever at trying to wipe you out and you often feel engaged in a real battle. However no matter how much you boost ahead and have a lucky run without hitting oncoming traffic, I can’t help but feel the AI catches me all too easily.

Conclude

The first game since polygonal racing came along in which I’ve enjoyed using auto gears. (no manual gears here). The first arcade game I’ve enjoyed since Test Drive lost it’s way. Massive single player game. Fastest racing game ever. Best looking Racer on PS2 (and very close if not as good as Xbox racers). A bit too easy to progress, OTT presentation, elastic AI cars and poor camera choice for crashing stop this one being a perfect game. But it is the closest thing in it’s genre. There is simply nothing to beat it. Sitting next to the shameful demo of NFSU2 on the same disc, I can only conclude this is 2004’s finest and fastest.

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