Category Archives: Criterion Games

#82: Burnout 3: Takedown

Format: Playstation 2 Genre:Racing Released: 2004 Developer: Criterion Games

Now we’re getting near to the end of our list of 101 games, a few people have been asking me whether I’m running out of games to talk about. Far from it – in fact the tricky part is trying to work out which games to leave out. Between us we’ve got a list of about 45 ‘possibles’ for inclusion, so over half of them won’t make it past the audition.

From the very beginning though, Burnout 3 was a definite for the list. In fact, I even mentioned it on the first ever post as one of the ‘two or three [racing games] that I’ve really enjoyed” and that “rank up there as some of my favourite game experiences”. Nothing has changed in the two and a half years since I wrote that post: Burnout 3 is still one of my favourite racing games of all time. (Blimey, two and a half years, have we really been writing this blog for that long? It was only meant to take a year!)

As the subtitle suggests, the key gameplay element of Burnout 3 is ‘takedowns’ – ramming other cars off the road to earn ‘boost’. Whereas the first two games in the series put more emphasis on other ways of earning boost, like powersliding and driving on the wrong side of the road, Burnout 3 focused firmly on the takedown mechanic, and was a helluva lot more fun as a result.

In Burnout 1, filling your boost meter was an arduous task, but Burnout 3 was happy to throw boost at you like the US government throwing money at an ailing investment bank. This meant that every race whipped by at blinding speed as a sucession of nail-biting bumper-to-windscreen encounters with rival cars – and in the brilliant ‘Road Rage’ game mode, the game abandoned all pretence of racing entirely, instead encouraging you to take out as many opponents as possible within the time limit.

However, it’s the inspired inclusion of ‘aftertouch’ that really makes this game. Whenever your car gets ‘taken out’, the pounding soundtrack is replaced by an insistent heartbeat and the game switches to slow motion as your car pirouettes through the air. But, brilliantly, you still have the power to move your car – ever so slightly – while it’s spinning across the road, giving you the ability to gently nudge the wrecked chassis directly into path of your oncoming rivals, or even in front of the git who took you out in the first place.

Aftertouch came into its own in the utterly fantastic Crash Mode, where the aim was to cause as big a pile-up as possible. Playing Crash Mode with a bunch of mates was good for hours of entertainment – and interestingly, it’s one of the few multiplayer games I can think of (certainly in the pre-Wii era) where my female friends enjoyed playing just as much as the guys did.

Who’d have thought the gender divide could be bridged by multi-lane car crashes?

Lewis

(Screenshots from www.gamefaqs.com)

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Filed under 2004, Criterion Games, Playstation 2, Racing