I really have to hand it to EA games. My hat goes off to them because I think, for the first time, I can give recognition to a company for listening to the feedback of gamers. EA know what we want, and they deliver it every time. Earlier this year EA released a somewhat popular game called Need For Speed Underground. It did okay – no, wait, it won the racing game of the year award on Gphoria, and is also one of the coolest games I have ever played. Well, in keeping with current form, EA certainly did not drop the ball when they released Burnout 3 across all the major consoles. If you haven’t yet played this game, then I urge you to (at least) rent it because I have a feeling that, after you’ve played it, you will be going straight to your local videogame store to purchase this awesome title.
Let’s get started by talking about what makes Burnout 3 great. When you pick up a game, one intrinsic and vitally important element that simply must be functional and easy to follow is the control system. When you start-up Burnout 3 you’re asked to create a profile (which is very simple to do), and then you’re catapulted into the game. While you’re in the game the controls work great, they are easy to grasp, responsive and completely functional. Using three buttons they give you an emergency brake, boost and a regular brake – if you want to slide around a corner all you have to do is hit L and then R at the exact moment that you want to take it. The other button you use is the A button, which is your boost. You can always gain boost by smashing up your competitors or ?taking risks’ (like driving into oncoming traffic), and therefore you should have plenty of boost most of the time. While you’re playing through the game you’ll encounter tons of unlockable features including new cars and maps; a lot of the cars you unlock initially appear to be the same, but they do have noticeable speed and weight differences. Those two combined statistics allow you to smash your opponents against brick walls and various special spots, resulting in you attaining a signature takedown that can later be viewed as a snapshot. My only complaint about the game’s control mechanic is this: I think that the in-game menus could have been a little quicker to pop up. Personally, I like to restart a race if I keep crashing, but when I press pause on the controller the time delay for the menu to pop up is a little too long. It is only perhaps a second, but surely it should be instantaneous. I know that to restart I have to press pause down and A, but I find myself accidentally reentering the game and having to be patient. Other than that it may take a few times before you get used to the in-game menus, but once you do they’re easy to navigate and the races are always fun to play.
Burnout 3 has many different modes of gameplay. You can drive in a regular event where you race against your competitors and attempt to place first, but you are also rewarded if, at anytime, you smash the opposition into walls or oncoming traffic. You can also select a course in which your objective is to create as much damage as possible. For instance, you can gather some serious speed on a long stretch of road while hurtling towards a heavy contingent of traffic – smashing headlong into the traffic, causes massive amounts of damage, massive amounts of fun, and also fulfills your objective. Then there is Takedown mode, in which you are trying to take out as many of your opponents as possible before the timer runs out or you’re taken out too many times yourself. This is the coolest idea I have ever seen in action. It is so much fun to smash the other players against poles, medians, and oncoming traffic. With 173 different races, you will find plenty to accomplish during your play time with Burnout 3.
The graphics are not completely realistic, but I think that this fact helps complement the gameplay that you’ll be experiencing. There are hordes of nicely polished vehicles to choose from, all of which look excellent (you can often change their color if it’s not to your liking). All of the vehicles look different; some are designed in just a single solid color, but others have advertising graphics and plush decals on them, which add a certain Grand Prix feel to some of the cars. Before entering some of the races you will get an explanation on how to rack up points, and sometimes you’re treated to in-game cinematic sequences, which always look excellent. All of the backgrounds in the game are very detailed and have many objects that you can smash – Yay! Bear in mind, though, that Burnout 3 is definitely not a simulation game; and it in no way resembles Gran Turismo, either. But, saying that, it does change the fact that this game looks very, very good indeed. I think that the developers may have made the look somewhat unrealistic because Burnout 3’s main attraction is based around the idea of destroying your car and those of your opponents.
The best part about this title is its soundtrack; it has 44(!) truly awesome tracks including bands like Finger Eleven and Pennywise. With such a vast array of music running in the background as you play, you won’t quickly find yourself growing tired of listening to the ?same old’ songs in Burnout 3. I have found myself just letting the title play without me because I enjoy the music so much. I am glad that companies have finally realized that they need to get popular bands to play music for video games – having an in-game soundtrack is totally awesome. Perhaps the only way it could have been improved upon is if you were able to add your own favorite tracks straight from the Xbox hard drive to the game’s play-list. But, with all the awesome titles already crammed into Burnout 3, the lack of a personal play-list is a forgivable offense. Car engine noises sound authentic, and they really make you feel as though you’re behind the wheel of a roaring monster. You can hear grinding noises while shifting, and also burning noises as you use your boost. I love hearing the engine fire up when I gain control of the car at the beginning of a race. You can often hear valves blowing off, which just adds to the sensation that you’re driving a motorized powerhouse. Also, the game’s crashes, smashes, and explosions really make you feel like you just inspired a 50-car pile up in the middle of a busy intersection. The game’s DJ does get a little annoying after a while, but thankfully you’re able to turn him off if you can’t stand listening to his annoying comments interrupting your favorite songs.
I must say that EA have definitely done it again; with 173 tracks to race on, and a wide variety of different types of racing to choose from, Burnout 3 is more than worth the asking price. EA were also smart enough to add Xbox Live to this title, which was sadly missing from Need For Speed Underground. The fact that you can play online with other people is great, but there is a little bit of an issue on load times. It takes forever for some games to launch, and you may often find yourself becoming somewhat impatient. Once you get into a party game, though, you can converse over your headset to your opponents, and talk smack when you smash them into a wall at 150mph. Burnout 3 is a standout title for Microsoft’s Xbox, and I hope that it finds a way into your collection so that you don’t miss out on all the action.