Criterion Games have taken Burnout’s infinitely enjoyable Crash mode and transformed it into a downloadable game. Introducing us to its cartoony style visuals, the game recklessly throws players into a busy road intersection and challenges them to smash into as many cars as possible and cause major collisions. The objective is to keep the chaos going and cause as much damage as possible in your fancy new car. Burnout Crash offers 16 unique levels and three different game modes; Road Trip, Pile Up and Rush Hour.
The day began cloudy and miserable, but nothing could dampen my spirits as I made my way across London to the EA offices for some time with the Criterion team and their upcoming downloadable game, Burnout Crash. Upon arrival, we were ushered through the secretive building with burlap bags over our heads to prevent us seeing any of the top secret projects that other EA teams were working on. Finally, my nostrils were barraged with the smell of burning rubber and engine oil, signalling our arrival at the Criterion team’s office. Once the bags had been removed and our eyes adjusted, we were treated to a room decorated in all things Burnout, including a rather awesome Burnout emblazoned electric guitar hanging from the wall.
The guys from Criterion began by giving us a brief presentation about the game, explaining the different modes and how to play. Then, things got physical…
Using the Xbox360 with Kinect, players are divided into two teams and each player takes their turn at approaching the intersection. It’s hilarious as you begin to steer a vehicle with your hands thrust out in front of you, gripping an imaginary steering wheel. Once your vehicle reaches the intersection, jumping in the air will trigger and explosion and moving your burnt out wreckage can be achieved by moving your body in the direction you want. If the player is fortunate, or unfortunate, enough to hit the roaming Pizza truck, a large Pizza will appear on the screen which the player must spin. Each piece of the pizza is designated with a different effect that will change that person’s run, such as slowing or speeding up the traffic, or even bringing down a massive fog bank. There are also a wide variety of other gestures that can be used for both comedic and entertaining effect.
Criterion showed us a few of the gestures and they range from throwing a fireball out, in which you have to push your arms forward together in a Dragon Ball Z style, to squatting down and laying an egg. We then had a chance to try some of the gestures out for ourselves, such as holding both arms up like a cheerleader and kicking a football, which was fun to take part in, but even more hilarious to watch. It’s a great source of entertainment and especially good for mocking your family and friends. Everyone looks relatively silly, but it brings a physical element to the game, which can’t be bad and makes a difference to sitting on the sofa using a controller.
We were then given the opportunity to try our Burnout Crash for ourselves in single player. The game has quite a retro feel about it, mostly thanks to the isometric top down view and hilarious eighties soundtrack providing plenty of embarrassing cheesiness. I began my game by trying out the Road Trip mode where you basically have to prevent vehicles leaving the intersection by exploding your car at the precise time to stop traffic. If five cars manage to pass through unharmed, it is game over. Despite the overwhelming chaos in the game, there is actually quite a strong strategic element, which took me a little while to realise. I guess I was just having too much fun causing mayhem on the city streets.
In the Rush Hour mode, you simply have 90 seconds to rack up as many points as possible. There are several ways in which you can boost your score up, such as managing to hit what must be the world’s most hard-working Pizza truck and spinning the Pizza wheel for a variety of different effects, which can either help or hinder the player’s quest for a high score. There’s also an ice-cream truck which can transform the traffic into destructible blocks of ice. It almost plays out like a pinball game as you bounce from car to car, smashing your way through buildings.
In Pile Up you’re required to fill up the damage meter by causing as much destruction as possible to the nearest cars and buildings. Once you’ve filled the meter up, it then triggers a final inferno, which then transforms you into a vehicular fireball that can set objects on fire. The objective is to keep the flames alive by moving from different objects, as once something is burnt through and the flames have died, it’s game over. So it’s good to remember that you need to pile up the cars first and foremost, before destroying them all.
Burnout Crash offers the support of the Autolog system of asynchronous competition, whereby you can challenge your friends whilst they are offline and, once the challenge has been accepted and completed, the winner gets a trophy, bragging rights and the right to claim one of their opponents goats for their own (okay, perhaps not the goat). Autolog also suggests new friends that are at the same level as you to create a more justified challenge. There is also the constant reminder that your friends will be trying their best to achieve a better score and simply out do you, but that’s all part of the fun of it.
Criteron Games have made sure that Burnout Crash doesn’t take itself too seriously. It exists solely for the fun and enjoyment of smashing up cars, both in a single player and a multiplayer party atmosphere, and succeeds admirably. As my time at the EA offices came to an end and I stepped out from the EA wonderland into the real world, I found myself humming “Ice, Ice Baby” and had an overwhelming desire for Pizza. Burnout Crash will be available on XBLA and PSN from September 20th for 800 MSPoints/ £7.99.