Burnout 3: Takedown – Why It Needs To Come Back

Burnout. The mere name instils a sense of excitement in me for times long gone. If one game series would be the poster boy for my nostalgia of the PlayStation 2 era it would be Burnout, the perfect arcade racer series in my opinion. The series started small with the original and paved the way for the future open world racing games we know today with its final entry, Paradise, but my favourite is and likely always will be the third. For me it was the perfect mix of tightly designed tracks, amazing crashes, and a godly soundtrack that really elavated a good racing game into one of my favourite games of all time. But how does it fare today? Is its trademark sense of speed still intact, and do the tracks still hold up after over 10 years? The answer my friends, is yes.

Having now gone back to game (via both emulator and original ps2) I am very happy to find that my love the game is relatively untarnished. What was once one of the very top arcade racers remains so in my eyes. The speed is still unrivalled in terms of most racers nowadays and the adherence to a high frame rate is striking when comparing it to modern titles. Hell, even comparing it to the most Burnout title, Paradise, the sheer speed during play is incredible. At higher levels of car type it becomes almost too much to handle as you fly down streets full of oncoming traffic at speeds reaching 300 to 400mph.

Driving at those kinds of speeds requires perfect controls and Burnout 3 has them in spades. Whilst it may take a moment to figure out the old controls of Face button to accelerate instead of the trigger it soon becomes second nature and the tightness of the controls and the finesse with which you can move your vehicle makes every corner and every traffic dodge exhilarating and heart racing. The cars are super manoeuvrable and driving is pure simple fun which is really the most important part.

One thing I had forgotten before returning to Burnout 3 was the pure joy of crash mode. There is something so instantly rewarding about smashing your car into a intersection and watching as car after car piles up around you, all the while earning you score. Speaking of crashing cars, it is there that the core selling point of Burnout 3 lies. There was and still is a certain beauty of watching the cars flip and smash in glorious slo-motion, sparks and glass flying everywhere as parts fall off and the chassis deforms. Sure compared to modern destruction in games it is woefully basic but boy does it still bring such great satisfaction to watch your opponent somersault through the air in slo-motion after you slam them into the wall.

If there is one thing I know after going back to Burnout 3 though it is that the current market is sorely missing this series. Quite why it has died out I am unsure, there is nothing quite like it and boy is it fantastic. Burnout 3 is the kind of game I can go back to over and over and sadly it seems I will have to. Racers nowadays are either sims or open world, tightly designed track based racers like Burnout hardly even exist anymore, especially with the trademark speed and focus on crashing. EA and Criterion (or what’s left of it) please, give us Burnout back.

Still, at least I will always have the game I love.

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The Best of 2015 - The Beginners Guide

When I finished The Beginners Guide for the first time I was left with a deep sense of unease. I was unsure exactly how I felt about the game, or even how I wanted to feel about it. It lingered in my mind for the rest of the night asking questions of me it had no right to ask and even now I find myself asking those same questions after replaying it and trying to tell myself that I enjoyed the experience. The thing is, I don't think I did, and I think that's the point.

-- Spoilers follow, you have been warned --

At it's core, the game is about the development process and it's effects on the mind of a creative person. As you'd imagine though the actual story is much deeper and quickly starts to stray into some very dark territory. Personally I have never seen a game so frank and honest about its creator and his flaws and I think the reason it had such an effect on myself was due to this. Whilst not the same, Davey and I share many similar weaknesses and mental oddities, to a point where his struggles scarily mirrored my own. When he was shouting about wanting to be OK, clearly distressed, I could vividly see myself in the same scenario and it was a little too real for me.

Anxiety, need to be wanted, using others work to justify yourself. It is all relatable to me and many others. These are problems people face on a daily basis and the way the beginners guide faces up to them is honestly inspiring. There is a moment near the end of the game where the only way to progress is to tell the game that you aren't OK. To tell it that you are failing, that the machine inside of you has quit and you can't keep going. It is a powerful moment but one very much tinged with bitterness and uncertainty. The twist at the very end of course is what makes the whole thing come together. It is where the narration is at it's strongest and it is very likely one of the best moments of gaming I have ever witnessed.

Many players enjoy gaming because it is an escape, a mirror into a world where you are the hero, where you can do anything and be whatever your wildest dreams want. What makes the beginners guide amazing in the end is because it isn't this. This is a game about a real person, with real problems. I said earlier that I don't think I enjoyed the experience and I stand by that. I am very glad the beginners guide exists, but it isn't fun, it isn't enjoyable. Thankfully, that is what the game wants and whilst it may not be for everyone, for those it hits right, it will hit hard. If you have any interest in game development, social disorders or such then I urge you to heck this game out. I eagerly await Davey's next game.

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