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Review: Burnout 3 (Xbox)
Written by Chris C   
Wednesday, 22 September 2004 11:37

The intrepid Chris C goes out for a spin, and nearly takes out a bus on the way. Can EA deliver the goods again, or is it a case of "it's more of the same"? That's right, it's time for Burnout 3 to sit under the microsope. Maybe EA should consider a better DJ this time though!


Review: Burnout 3 (Xbox) 

“The bus! Watch the bus!”

“Whoa, that was close.”

From the moment you start your first race in this frantic, hi-octane, frenetic battle between heaps of metal, pushed to go faster that man could ever have imagined, you’re in for a seat of your pants thrill ride that will leave your palms sweaty, pulse racing and pupils widened.

Burnout 3 has been the exception to the rule when it comes to trilogies. Back to the Future 3? Not worth the film it was recorded on. The Last Crusade, Alien 3, Terminator 3? None of these really lived up to the standards set by their predecessors. So it was with some hesitation that I sat in front of the screen, waiting for the little disc to spin up inside the Xbox, and present me with the Burnout title screen.

I thrust myself straight into the Burnout World Tour, picked a road race in USA, and hit the gas. The first thing you’ll have to come to terms with is the game’s speed. Forget your Extreme Gs, your Wipeouts, your F-Zeros. This is genuinely the only game that gets you worried about hitting that boost button. It flies along at a ridiculous rate, and whereas the previous two suffered from a lack of detail on the vehicles and road side furnishings - to allow for the speed increase, this time the Criterion team have stretched the graphical limits of the Xbox to the max. The cars look lovely. Every roadside object reflects on your vehicle as your career past, and the details on the road, bridges, trees, buildings and fellow racers are all top notch.  Sparks fly as you “trade paint” with your rivals, tussling for first place and the right to keep it. Yet, the finest part of Burnout 3 has to be the crash physics. Never have car mutilations looked so real. You will squint and reel as you pound into a solid pillar at 150 mph. Car parts sore into the air and litter the track as your car slides helplessly towards oncoming traffic and, hopefully, one of your rivals (more on that later).

The courses themselves are well thought out, with plenty of overtaking opportunities, blind bends, narrow tunnels, hills, jumps and bumps to keep you guessing throughout. Set over three continents, Europe, USA and the Asia, all the courses are varied enough to keep you playing through again and again.

There are a handful of play modes available. Road Rage sees you trying to “Takedown” as many of your opponents vehicles as you can before the time expires. Takedowns are a major new introduction to the series, and have changed the style of racer that Burnout used to be for good. Now it’s all about annihilating your rivals and taking gold, as opposed to just winning the race. A takedown constitutes you slamming a rival racer off the track, in any method possible, thus increasing your boost bar and helping you fly off into the distance. It’s incredibly easy to get caught up in a battle for third or fourth place, simply because you have become so intent on revenge for an earlier set-to with “that dude in the black car”.

Other play modes include a standard race to the finish, face-offs (you and a rival car in a battle to the finish) and the ever present and oh so enjoyable Crash mode. The Crash mode has been enhanced slightly too, with twisting ramps, extra power ups and the satisfying “Crash breaker”. Once a target number of vehicles have been written off, the crash breaker becomes available, allowing you to detonate 10 tonnes of explosives wired into your car, and fly off into hard to reach places, to maximise that insurance claim. The way you do this is with the help of yet another edition to the burnout series, aftertouch. Aftertouch allows you to slow your car down after an accident, and move your wreck into oncoming traffic, rival cars, pickups, fuel tankers etc. It does mean that if you are taken out due to a little careless driving on your part, there is still a chance of taking a couple of the other swines with you on your way!

There are of course a few minor glitches that let the whole package down a little. Online play has been something of a nightmare, with servers dropping connection for no reason, stats not being recorded, players unable to log in etc but EA have assured the games playing public that this will be rectified soon. The soundtrack too is a little wearing, with the crazed American DJ proving to be more of an annoyance than a welcome inclusion. EA had something to do with his presence I fear. The SSX series suffered the same fate, and the Electronic Arts chaps do seem to have a penchant for “wacky” American commentary in a number of their games.

The overall experience of Burnout 3 however is one to marvel at. With bucket loads of courses, race modes and cars to unlock and play, there is enough to keep even the most Sunday of Sunday drivers content for a long while. It will also have you screaming Maverick’s line from the 80’s classic “Top Gun” – “I feel the need… the need, for speed!” at the top of your lungs as you hurtle through the tightest of gaps at 200+ mph, which is no bad thing.

Buy, race, sweat and enjoy.


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