We spend all weekend ripping up the tarmac and bending fenders in Criterion's latest.
UK-based developer Criterion Studios is an outfit that seems to have been heading toward greatness for a few years now. Though the studio is probably best known for its middleware-development arm responsible for the ubiquitous Renderware engine--the same engine that powers favorites like Mortal Kombat: Deadly Alliance and the GTA series--it has also managed to produce several games of admittedly varying quality. Criterion's most accomplished and most simply likable title was easily 2002's visceral, crash-happy racer Burnout 2: Point of Impact. And from the taste we've had of its follow-up, Burnout 3: Takedown, this may be the game that puts all eyes on Criterion.
For a series that has never earned a rating beyond an "E "(for Everyone), the Burnout games have always appealed to a dark, primal side of human nature. Criterion has built the franchise from the ground up on the notion that reckless, ridiculously high-speed driving and apocalyptic auto wrecks are really, really fun--which, unsurprisingly, has proved pretty true thus far. It would appear that Burnout 3: Takedown won't be making any philosophical changes to the series, though it will contain a host of improvements. The power plant that runs Burnout 3 is the gameplay, and Criterion is installing superchargers on the system that was under the hood in Burnout 2: Point of Impact, making the action faster, more visceral, and brutal (almost to the point of excess).
Burnout 2 would fill your boost meter for driving into oncoming traffic, having near misses, and drifting around corners, and Burnout 3 does the same. However, Burnout 3 will allow you to tap your boost meter at any time, not just when it's filled completely. Central to the improvements being made in Burnout 3--as you might infer from the game's subtitle--is the takedown system. Going toe to toe with other highly skilled racers is one thing, but wouldn't life be so much easier if you could just run them off the road, taking them out of the equation? The takedown system will let you answer this question yourself, because it rewards you with boost multipliers and a full boost bar for slamming other racers into walls, medians, and other vehicles on the road. It also encourages more-aggressive, combative driving, because simply making contact with another racer will earn you boost, and it will sometimes rob the other racer of his or her boost.
With the incredible speed and the constant close calls, crashing your car is not only inevitable but also it's actually encouraged in certain event types in Burnout 3 (more on that later). So, rather than just leaving the fender benders up to fate and physics, the game will introduce the aftertouch system, which will, with the push of a button, slow time down to a crawl to subtly influence the trajectory of your twisted, post-wreck chassis, which can earn you some nice bonuses. And, if you're able to actually run another racer off the road in the process, you'll be rewarded with a prestigious aftertouch takedown that restores the boost multiplier you might have lost and refills your boost meter for good measure. Based on the way that it makes crashing that much more satisfying, we have little doubt that the aftertouch system will be one of the most distinguishing characteristics of Burnout 3.
All this garage work is all well and good, but what happens when the rubber meets the road? The primary single-player campaign will take you to events across the globe, with the three hotspots being the USA, Europe, and the Far East. It's a pretty straightforward progression of completing events, unlocking new events, completing these events, and so on. However, the events you'll actually compete in promise to keep things interesting by providing a nice variety of action.
- Release Date: Sep 7, 2004 (US)
- ESRB: TTitles rated T (Teen) have content that may be suitable for ages 13 and older.