Simply the Best
Let me begin by saying that I never played the original Burnout nor Burnout 2. I came into Burnout 3 with a clean slate, except for all the hype surrounding it, and not truly sure what to expect. After about an hour of playing I decided that it was probably the best arcade racing game I'd ever played. After a few more hours I was sure of it. And then, after another dozen hours I started to wonder if it was the overall racing game I'd ever played, period. Yes, it is that good. Burnout 3 isn't just for racing fans; it has something to offer everyone.
In a word: Gorgeous. The game is almost flawless in the graphics department. The levels are beautifully designed but you may not even notice the scenery since you're going so fast. But that's another plus; the sense of speed. Burnout 3 is one of the few racing games that makes you feel like you're really going 200mph. I was truly impressed by the roads themselves, such as the glistening (and sometimes glaring) snowy roads of Europe and the endless amount of destructable items strewn about the streets. The main attraction in Burnout are the crashes and they are presented better than anything that preceded this game. The blazing speed makes for the most dramatic crashes and "takedowns" that one could dream of having. The only complaints I have about the game's graphics are the minor aliasing issues (yes, even on an Xbox) and the hideous ads that marr the otherwise impecable raceways. Other than that, and the rather generic menus, Burnout 3 is extremely easy on the eyes.
The way arcade racing games were meant to be. Quick to learn, not excruciatingly hard to master, and highly addictive. To put it simply, the gameplay just feels right. The game runs at 60fps and even with all the traffic and random objects on the sides of the roads, the game run fluidly without a hitch. There really isn't much else to say. The controls in Burnout 3 are perfect.
For a little more detail, I like what they've added to the franchise with Aftertouch and Crashbreakers. Aftertouch is the ability to steer your pile of wreckage as it tumbles through the air. Realistic? Hell no. Fun? Hell yeah! If an opponent takes you down, you still have the ability to take out your frustrations on anyone coming up behind you by holding A and influencing the direction your scrap metal is going. You get massive bonus points for Aftertouch Takedowns (causing someone else to crash into your wreckage). The Crashbreakers are simply a way to cause even more destruction in the Crash events. Once the designated number of cars have been totalled due to your initial damage, you can press B and make your car explode causing a shockwave of excessive damage to the surrounding area as well as giving you even more Aftertouch time to either guide your flaming wreckage into more traffic or towards some valuable cash bonus tokens. I could go on and on about how great Burnout 3's gameplay is.
Do you like indy-punk-pop-rock? I sure hope you do, because that's all you're getting thanks to EA's ever-worsening EA Trax program. The songs included are indeed radio-friendly, but that's not to say they're actually good, minus a few exceptions. The game is headlined by the F-Up's "Lazy Generation," which may be a catchy tune, but it's kind of sad that it's being used as the theme for such an incredible piece of work that Burnout 3 is. The rest of the track list houses the likes of Yellow Card, Franz Ferdinand, The Von Bondies, and even The Ramones. Luckily, the Xbox version allows you to use your own Custom Soundtracks. It may come as a surprise to you, but I kind of like the Crash Radio station that encompasses the otherwise lame soundtrack. The DJ is the same guy who did Radio BIG for SSX3, which was easily one of the best games of last year. He even mentions it in a few sound bites when he starts to talk about "Mac's run at Peak 3..." before realizing he's talking about the wrong game. The real star of the game's sound are the effects. The sound effects supplement the already incredible sense of speed. From the sound of your car quickly shifting through gears at the beginning of the race to the "whooosh" as you blaze past oncoming traffic, this is definitely one of those racing games where you will physically be bobbing and weaving as you sit in your recliner. Did I mention the Dolby Digital support?
World Tour is the main single player mode. This mode takes you back and forth between an assortment of non-specific American, European, and Russian cities in over a dozen different race types and competitions. The main goal is get Gold medals in all of the 173 events. Although getting golds isn't exactly difficult, this task is still going to take you 30-40 hours to complete. A feat that only Gran Turismo has been able to accomplish in single-player racing games.
Secondly, Burnout 3 is the first non-sports title from EA to be on Xbox Live. Up to 8 players can compete in Party Crash mode, which consists of each player taking turns causing the most monetary damage they can. Two players can compete in Team Crush and Double Impact, but 6 can compete in the most addictive mode...Road Rage. Road Rage separates the players into two teams (Red vs Blue) to see which team can literally survive the longest. My only complaint about the Live features is that EA still doesn't understand the Live Aware advantages. I'd love to be able to be playing World Tour and actively get invites from friends, but I can't. Between the unexpected magnitude of the single player experience and the addictiveness of the online play, Burnout 3 is loaded with replay value.
Burnout 3 is a blast. By not playing it, you are doing a disservice to yourself. It doesn't matter what kind of racing games you like, or if you like racing games at all. Burnout 3 is just that good. As I said before, it has something for everyone. Whether it's the destruction of the crash modes, the rally racing feel of the twisting European snow races, or the flat out addictiveness of being rewarded for driving like a maniac. It's a good feeling. If you buy one racing game this year, make it Burnout 3. And yes I realize that Need for Speed Underground 2 and Midnight Club 3 come out in November, but I'm willing to bet that neither of them can top what Burnout 3 has accomplished. It truly is one of the best games of this console generation.
*** This review was written for Flamevault.com shortly after the release of the game. ***