Burnout 3: Takedown Updated Hands-On

We get crash-happy with a near-final version of the destructive Burnout sequel.

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Burnout 3: Takedown
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At an EA press event today, we were fortunate to try our hand at a nearly final build of Burnout 3: Takedown, the wreck-focused third installment in what's already been a pretty crash-happy series. We were told by a Criterion Studios representative that the game has literally about 10 more days of polishing and bug-testing before it's declared finished, and indeed the game we played today certainly felt like a finished game.

It's like pinball with cars! We absolutely can't wait for this game. Click the stream option for a larger view. We've tried out the blisteringly fast racing modes in Burnout 3 before, so today our focus was on the crash mode, which gives you a number of preconfigured road and traffic setups (which the game calls "junctions") and simply lets you rush into the fray to try to cause as big an accident as you can. At the end of the crash, the camera will sweep over all the carnage you’ve created, and you'll see dollar signs floating over each wreck that indicate exactly how badly you trashed everything. Your final score is then tallied so you can see exactly how well you did.

Crash mode is a lot more complicated than that, though, as there are helpful and harmful power-ups scattered around each junction that will change the outcome of each crash. One power-up provides an automatic speed boost, for instance, while another one will savagely cut your subsequent scoring in half. The auto-crashbreaker was a personal favorite of ours; it detonates a bomb as soon as your car touches it, sending everything in the vicinity flying in all directions.

That's not the only way you'll have access to this bomb, however. If you can rack up 15 collisions, you'll gain a crashbreaker that you can use at the touch of a button once your car grinds to a halt on the asphalt. If you manage to position your car in the midst of a lot of other cars or debris and then trigger the crashbreaker, you'll not only add a lot to your score, you'll also see a spectacular display of flying metal and rubber.

Even that's not the end of the complexity in the crash mode, as you'll also have some control over the way you crash after you've already lost actual driving control of your vehicle. By using the built-in "aftertouch," which you can trigger by holding down a button as soon as you leave the ground, you can influence the direction your car flies with the analog stick, and you can often use this to score even more hits than you would have otherwise. The aftertouch feature can be triggered again when you use your crashbreaker, so with enough skill and finesse you can create some high-flying wrecks that are worthy of any big-budget action movie.

Burnout 3 was looking as good today on both the PS2 and Xbox as it has the last few times we've seen it, which is to say it's one of the more stylish and visually impressive racing games to date. The game has a serious sense of speed, complete with the blurring that occurs around the edge of the screen and the deft way the camera switches around to highlight the more impressive wrecks. There's not a whole lot of difference between the two versions visually, which is a compliment to the work Criterion has done on the PS2.

From our brief playtime today, it looks like Burnout 3 will have a hell of a lot of meat for race fans to sink their teeth into. The crash mode alone has 100 junctions for you to play through (which you'll unlock as you play), not to mention the standard racing modes and so on. The wait for Burnout 3: Takedown is almost over, and it seems to have been worthwhile; look for the game in just a few weeks.

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