Burnout Crash! Review
Well-integrated social features fuel the competitive kinetic chaos of Burnout Crash.
- Wreaking explosive havoc is satisfying
- Autolog features encourage friendly competition
- Music and sound effects foster a fun vibe
- Game types change up the way you play.
- Visually unimpressive
- Some obnoxious voice acting.
Aftertouch. It's the inexplicable ability to exert some degree of control over a wrecked car as it flies through the air. First introduced in the phenomenal Burnout 3: Takedown, this ludicrous power returns in a big way in Burnout Crash. Here is a game built entirely on driving into intersections, crashing, and then making your car's wreckage explode again and again, guiding its movement in an effort to cause as much destruction as possible. It seems shallow at first glance, but there's actually some skill required to master this mayhem, and although the core mechanic remains the same throughout, varied intersections and modes make you change up your approach. It's a little too in love with itself, with narration and production choices that sometimes cross the line from infectious to obnoxious, but addictive gameplay that benefits from Criterion's competition-fueling Autolog system makes Burnout Crash an entertaining detour.
Burnout Crash is divided into 18 intersections, and each intersection offers three challenges: Road Trip, Rush Hour, and Pile Up. Regardless of which game type you're playing, you start each one the same way: by steering a car into traffic. (Don't worry, these cartoony cars are free of occupants; this is bloodless, casualty-free crashing.) Once you've impacted another vehicle, the crashbreaker meter appears. It fills up slowly on its own but fills much more quickly when cars are crashing, and each time it's full, you can push a button to explode. This explosion launches you into the air, at which point you can control the direction in which the flaming husk of what was once your car travels.
What you want to do with that flying piece of metal changes depending on the game type you've chosen. When you play an intersection for the first time, you're limited to Road Trip. In Road Trip, you get a strike each time a vehicle escapes from the intersection unscathed, and if you get five strikes, the game ends, so one of your concerns is trying to make sure that cars that enter the intersection do not leave it. To that end, you can use your crashbreaker explosion, which knocks any cars within a certain range out of commission. You can also use the force of your explosion to try to position wreckage in such a way that it blocks lanes of traffic (buses are especially handy for this). The cars that enter the intersection might make a modest attempt to swerve around obstructions, but they're incapable of stopping or turning around, and it's amusing to watch them plow right into a massive pileup, which they should have seen from miles away.
So Road Trip has a bit of a puzzle element to it. How can you use your crashbreakers in such a way as to prevent cars from escaping? In addition to worrying about that, you also want to cause as much destruction as possible because everything you destroy adds to your score. The streets are lined with houses, shops, boats, airplanes, and other destructible objects, and you want to raze as many of these things as you can. Of course, straying from the streets to destroy these tempting big-ticket items is a risk; if you haven't completely blocked the intersection, cars might slip through while you're trying to take down city hall. This element of risk adds some excitement to your destructive efforts, and the more effectively you've blocked an intersection, the less you need to worry. Some intersections make effectively blocking traffic trickier by adding more roads or having a traffic circle, which keeps things from feeling too predictable as you advance.
You also increase your score by doing things like triggering explosion chains and by making skill shots in which your explosion sends cars into pools of water or down holes in the ground. These occurrences are celebrated with flashing numbers and slot-machine sound effects, making the entire experience whimsical and your explosive triumphs rewarding. Contributing to the chaos are special events that occur periodically. These include cops who form a roadblock at one exit and an ambulance that removes a strike if it gets through the intersection safely, which gives you incentive to clear the road rather than obstruct it. And if you manage to wreck the intersection's entire allotment of cars without earning five strikes, you trigger that intersection's super feature. This is a tornado, a tidal wave, or some other destructive force that lays waste to anything left in the area, giving you points in the process. It's a cool reward for your success and a satisfying way to cap off the chaos.