One of the big new draws in Criterion's upcoming fast-action driving game, Burnout 3: Takedown, is its online support on the PlayStation 2 and Xbox. The game lets up to six drivers (and even eight, in one case) compete in a variety of modes. We recently got the chance to try out some of the PlayStation 2 version's multiplayer options, and so far, they feel pretty good.
Burnout 3's online mode begins with a standard set of player-matching and game-finding features. You can have a buddy list to keep track of your friends, look at various leaderboards, and, of course, jump into a game with up to seven other players, depending on the mode.
There are five different modes to play online in Burnout 3. The most standard option is single race, which lets you face off against up to five other drivers. Most driving games tend to cut back on traffic when going online, but Burnout without traffic to weave through wouldn't be much fun. Thankfully, all of the slow-moving Sunday drivers you see in the game's single-player mode are also present online. You can set the number of laps, and, like in many of the other modes, the host of the game can restrict games to specific classes of cars, to help keep things even.
Road rage is a team-based mode for up to six players. It works much like the same mode in the single-player game, but here it's a team-based mode that puts players on either a driving team or a rage team. The driving team's job is to survive and drive a certain number of miles before team rage can destroy the drivers' cars by slamming into them. Each car can sustain a number of crashes before being eliminated. You can play this game with two players, but it definitely seems more exciting with a full load of players.
The other three modes are different takes on the game's exciting crash mode, which is primarily found in the single-player mode. Team crush is a two-player mode that lets two players cooperate to create the biggest wrecks in the game's various crash junctions. Two cars means you'll have two crashbreakers, which are the bonus explosions you can trigger after wrecking a certain number of cars in a level. Double impact is similar to team crush, but it's competitive instead of cooperative, so you'll want to try to hog all of the power-ups and prevent your opponent from causing a big wreck.
Party crash is the only mode that can be played by eight players. It isn't really a full-fledged online mode. It's more of a score competition that puts each player into a crash junction. You'll be crashing by yourself, and at the end, all of the scores are compared and a winner is declared. At that time, you can watch the winning crash replay. The game continues from round to round until a specific dollar amount is reached.
A big part of the crashing in Burnout 3 is the slow-motion sequences that give you "aftertouch" control of your car. With aftertouches, you'll be able to move your car around in midair after a crash, so you can glide into other vehicles for even bigger wrecks. Since slow-motion and online gaming don't mix particularly well, the online modes do away with the dramatic slowness. You'll still have aftertouch control, but you'll have to make it happen in real time. The crashes tend to unfold at a rapid pace, but it isn't so fast that you won't have time to float into other cars.
The game keeps track of player ranks, and you'll be able to see that rank in the game lobby before launching into a race. Game hosts can restrict games to players with similar ranks. Rankings also factor into the leaderboards. You can check up on your buddies or look at the entire list of Burnout 3 players.
Overall, Burnout 3's online mode seems like an exciting addition to an already-exciting game. We'll have more on Burnout 3 as it nears its early-September finish line.