Malik (10/1/04)

Burnout 3 (XBox)

EA Games

So, with a new obsession, I think it's time to keep up the trend of a rather quick to production review. This time, it is my addiction of Burnout 3. For those who aren't aware of many things, BO3 is one of the billion games that is coming/came out this overly crowded season of 2004. However, BO3 is also one of the few titles that actually stands out from the rest of it's genre as worthy of our attention in this freakish season. Also, BO3 is the sequel of one of the most under appreciated arcade-style racers of this console generation; Burnout 2 (a game that hit the bargain price of $20 a little too quickly considering it's great quality). 

The Burnout series is a pretty standard arcade-racing series that uses an improved engine for crash simulation to serve as it's main selling price. However, with BO2, the crash engine also became a new game play mode in which you try to crash as spectacularly as possible for a high score. However, the feature that's usually less noticed, until the game is actually played, is the insane and spectacular sense of speed that is so rarely seen in either simulation or arcade style racing games (when you go 200 MPH in a Burnout game, you feel like you're going 200 freakin' MPH!). So, now that you're up to speed, let's get the ball rolling. 


Well, there was a wizard in a magical tower that was constructed by the teddy bear alliance in order to protect the fair princess from the barbarian hordes. Then, one day a monkey with a magical spoon of destruction came along and decided that he would devour the brains of our fair princess...did I mention that the princess is really a puppy in disguise as a elf? She is. So, the monkey came along, and with the help of his friend, who is a rogue teddy bear, they got past the guard. So, you serve as the...ok...I'm messing with you...IT'S A FREAKIN' RACING GAME! No plot! No need! A plot would only bring this down to the level of other pseudo-sport titles that throw in a plot. 

Game Play 

Now this is something that Burnout 3 has...and it has a lot! First of all, I should tell you about the game modes. These consist of several types of events that can be played online (via the crappy EA ran servers...which don't work...ever...unless you're one of the chosen people of EA legacy...seriously, only about 10% of people playing on XBox Live can get through to the EA Live servers without any problems), split screen/other multiplayer offline, single event single player, or World Tour mode (single player which you unlock new stuff). So, on to the modes; 

First off I'll start with everyone's favorite standard mode; Race and it's variants. In this mode, it's you versus 6 other players (for a total of you and 5 CPU players, 5 online people, or a split screen race with one other human player) in a race of usually either 3 laps on a shorter track or one lap/stretch of road on longer tracks. There is not too much to say about the standard race beyond the fact that it is in traffic on city streets and highways (and some jungle terrain in some of the Southern Asia levels), and you will have to avoid not only a sudden bend in the road, but also both oncoming and same direction traffic, pillars in tunnels and some city streets, debris (that will move, but obstruct your vision, when hit), and whatever else you can think of (no, there are no pedestrians, you sick $, there's a time and a place and it's called GTA). 

In the same line of thinking, there are the eliminator races. These are always on shorter tracks since they consist of 5 laps each. As you race, it seems normal until the first lap is over. At this point, the 6th place racer is dropped from the game. Then, with each additional lap, the last place player is removed until there is only 2 racers on the final lap. You should be able to figure out what happens from there. 

Also, there are Grand Prix races. These are as they sound. You will have a total of, usually, 3 races in a row, with no breaks, in which to each points according to your place at the end of each race. The winner is the one with the highest points at the end of all three. Sadly, in World Tour mode, in which you try to get gold, silver, or bronze medals, you can get a silver for being second place overall, but you only get a gold if you get a perfect score (1st place in every race). Luckily, for those who feel that the game can be bitchy at times (which it can), you can restart any race in a GP without losing your current score total (but you must do the restart before proceeding to the next race). 

The next game mode is the Road Rage mode. In Burnout 3, you can, while racing, try to cause another racer to crash. You can do this in any of the race modes above or in Road Rage. If a player crashes, they will be pushed back about 3 seconds as they respawn (this is also what happens to you if you crash). This process is known as a Takedown (hence the name; Burnout 3: Takedown). You can do this in any number of ways from spooking a driver (cut them off and see if they might slam into a wall without touching them; call a Psych Out), slamming them into a wall (Wall Takedown), into a car (Car Takedown), into special vehicles (called things like a Bus Takedown, etc), and into special circumstances called signature takedowns (like if you slam someone into a pillar, then you will get the Pillar Driller takedown) which count towards your awards that count towards unlocking new cars. Lastly, if you crash, you have limited control of your vehicle during the crash...if you manage to hit another racer, you will get an Aftertouch Takedown. In the Road Rage event, you are given a certain time limit in which you must takedown a certain number of CPU controlled cars (or other players in online Road Rage games). However, you also have a certain number of crashes you can take before you will be forced to stop (your car will take damage in this event). It's a lot like the Death Race mode on F-Zero X for the N-64...only with cars, more speed, and far better visuals. 

Last of all is everyone's favorite trademark of Burnout...Crash mode. In this mode, you are given a small stretch of road from one of the standard tracks, some power-up or score altering pick-ups, and a special set of heavy traffic...and maybe a ramp or two. You are then given an overview of the track and are then a score goal. Your purpose is to find the best way to crash into traffic to create the most expensive pile-up possible (or at least to earn a gold medal in World Tour). The pick-ups you can find include boost (which mixes out your vehicles speed and you no longer have control of the speed on your car/truck...yes, there are trucks!), score additions (gain a couple tens of thousands of dollars to your total), score multipliers (to either double or quadruple your final score...after the other pick-ups are added in!), the heart-breaker (which cuts your final score in half...this pick-up counters and overwhelms the multipliers...which can lead to a lot of swearing and thrown controllers), and the "Crash Breaker" that causes your vehicle to explode and give you some more momentum to do some aftertouch work. Also, these pick-ups can all be obtained either while driving or after the crash occurs. 

So, to obtain the best scores, you not only need to consider what pick-ups are easy enough to obtain (which always needs to include the quad score if you want to pwnzor), but also which vehicle to strike first, where to go with your aftertouch, and the crash breaker. The crash breaker is not only available in a pick-up, but you also obtain one after a set number of vehicles are crashed. So, once your momentum is done and your aftertouch use is over, you can throw in a crashbreaker and not only take out more vehicles and cause more carnage, but you also gain some new momentum. Also, unlike Burnout 2, you do not get a bonus multiplier for the number of vehicles in the pile up...thus, you should always consider the value of a vehicle over how many you can get involved (a tanker truck is always worth more than a little compact car, etc). Best of all, as you crash, different vehicles will behave differently. If you hit a tanker truck's tanker, you can cause an explosion; if you hit a bus on the side, it will roll easier than almost any other vehicle; hit a small car with a lot of force and it will fly; his a logging truck and the logs will spill onto the roadway. This mode alone makes BO3 worth it for even people who don't usually like racing titles. 

Best of all, Crash mode has the best multiplayer options. There is party crash, in which up to 8 people play (one person after another...not simultaneously) to get the best score; there is a co-op crash mode in which two players drive simultaneously and try to get, together, a huge score...however, if a multiplayer is obtained by one one player, then it will not count towards either total (the heart-break, however, only needs to be gained by one person to cut both scores in half); there is competitive crash in which two players go at the same time to get a higher score and beat the other player to the pick-ups. All of this makes BO3 a good party game, even without the racing. 

With the World Tour mode, you play starting with a small number of cars (which carry over to the other, if you don't play World Tour, then your single event and multiplayer games will teh'll have few cars, few tracks, and few events to play), only a couple of events to play (a race and a crash event), and a lack of Burnout Points (earned by taking people out in races, making some cool crashes in a race, or from great driving skills), Total Takedowns, and Total Damage (your total crash score). As you get bronze medals (or higher), you will unlock new events of the same type that you earned a medal in (either one of the race mode games or a crash event), and as you earn points, Takedowns, and damage values, you will also unlock some new vehicles (crash dollars only apply towards vehicles that cannot be player in races, nor in World Tour mode). Lastly, if you earn enough gold medals, you will unlock more special events and vehicles. So, with every victory, you will unlock, at the very least, a new event and maybe a lot more (I've unlocked up to 6 things in one race). These also include trophies for special Takedown requirements (like getting 5 takedowns in a single race), those Signature Takedowns, causing a special damage amount in all the crash locations (not the actual crash events, but the general area of each crash event), and postcards from getting gold in special events...if you get all of any of these trophies, you will get a hella pimp new car (like the fire truck for getting the crash requirements all met). 

Also, with Burnout 3, there's a matter of the controls.  Which are beyond a doubt the best you will find on an arcade racing game. The controls are rather intuitive with the right trigger serving as accelerate, the left rigger serving as brake (which you will only use to start a skid which will help you navigate tight curves) and reverse when you've stopped (which, sadly, you will use occasionally when the game respawns you facing perpendicular to the track), the A button serving as your boost, black and white for advancing the music track you're on, and X and Y both altering your perspective (one moves you from first to third person and the other is rear view). Besides the analogue stick (left analogue stick) controlling your direction, that's about it for controls. They are simple, quick to learn, and quite responsive. Sadly, for those who would like a different configuration...well, you're SOL on that one. 

Also, speaking of things like the boost button, there is the matter of where boost comes from (besides pick-ups in crash mode). You get boost from being as insane of a driver as possible. For example, if you drive in oncoming traffic, you can earn some boost for the time you spend in the danger zone. If you come close to hitting a non-racer, you will earn a near-hit boost bonus. If you drift turn (skid), you get boost for the time spent drifting. Lastly, if you fight with the racers, you can get boost. You'll get a little for hitting a racer, and a full boost bar with an addition to the maximum if you takedown another racer. However, at the insane speeds you'll get up to once you've unlocked the super class cars, all of this will become a lot more challenging (but, the progression of the game is smooth enough that you'll learn as much as you'll be challenged...which leads to an ideal challenge level for a racing game). 

So, in a nutshell, with all the unlockables, the many types of races and crash modes, the online (if it ever works...damned EA should just let Microsoft host the servers), the multiplayer, the quick and easy controls, the good learning curve, and the hella fast speed of the game, this is ideal racing game for people who love arcade racing, and a great title for those who usually hate racing least in terms of game play. 


With such a high level of speed, and such good controls, the thing that would make this perfect is if the visuals were nice...well, better than nice visuals are even better...and even better are the Burnout 3 visuals. There is little to say beyond, DAMN! The visuals are simply amazing. The cars show the tiniest of details, especially when they get torn to pieces in a wreck; the streets are finely detailed down to the debris of tables and chairs, the signs on the side of the roads, the looks of each unique building, the differences in a city street in Europe vs. America vs. an island paradise in Southern Asia; and most importantly, the draw distance and the quality of visuals for far away objects take high priority (which is especially nice when it comes to speeding at 200MPH in oncoming traffic). To put it simply, these are the best looking graphics on a racing game currently available (I say currently since GT4 stands to blow everything out of the water when it finally comes out). Nothing else to say...they are an example of visual perfection...just expect some eye strain as you dart your eyes from one place to another in a frantic effort to keep track of a 200MPH race, with traffic coming at you at the equivalent of 260 MPH, opponents popping up without warning, and trying to keep an eye on your HUD...but the strain is worth it. 


To get the easy stuff out of the way; the sound effects are also, like the visuals, perfect. Engines hum and purr according to the vehicle type (trucks roar, compacts buzz, etc), which is always good. Plus, the sound of metal crunching and twisting when an accident ("accident"? More likely a takedown) occurs is nothing short of realism at work. Most importantly, the surround sound quality of all of this is nothing short of pure and total ear-candy.

Unlike Burnout 2, which would allow either custom soundtracks (XBox version) or some really cheesy and generic tencho/video game music, BO3 has a better option. You still get the custom sound tracks, but you also can now have good built in music. The music of BO3 ranges from a wide assortment of punk music from The Ramones to Yellowcard to The F-ups to Sugarcult. There is something on this sound track for anyone, and you have full control of what songs are played in race, in menu, both, neither, and if the songs play in order or randomly. Also, with the black and white buttons, a new track is only a press away. Sadly, the only downside of this is that you will not, NEVER, have music in crash mode...which sucks horribly since my custom soundtrack of Less Than Jake's B is For B-Sides consists of a couple of nice songs that are the perfect length for crashing (about 40-55 seconds).

So, if not for the lack of crash music, the sounds of Burnout 3 are beyond anything I've ever heard in a racing game before.


So, while I hate to do so, since it goes against my bitchy nature, I have no choice but to praise this game. Simply put, Burnout 3 has the best game play, with the best controls, the best options for racing, the all-mighty crash mode, great multiplayer options, and far too many cars to count. All of this rare enough for an arcade racer without also having truly breath taking visuals that break one of my old rules of games (Rule: When graphics become too good, they usually become horrible in and of themselves), and a great audio engine that has not only realistic and wonderful sound effects, but also a great sound track and a great use of surround sound technology. Best of all, there is no attempt to force a plot upon us, as so many pseudo-sports titles like to do in this generation of consoles. So, I will simply say that Burnout 3 deserves a 9.75 out of 10 (if the cars were all unique and not just new skins on the same machine for some of them and if EA Live worked right with XBox Live, this would get a 10, hands down). This is the best racing game I've ever experienced and easy lives up to the hype...and then some.