Review: Amusing Burnout Crash Does Neither


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Image: Electronic Arts Inc.

About a week ago, Burnout Crash launched on Xbox Live Arcade and the Playstation Network. It’s a downloadable arcade game where players earn money by causing mayhem at the local busy intersection on Main Street. How do you cause mayhem in traffic, you ask? You start by crashing into other cars that have the misfortune to be nearby. Then you continue demolishing by making explosions by slamming the cars airborne into buildings, gasoline stations, houses, other cars, and the list smashes on and on. Basically, you want to destroy everything in sight to rack up your points.

Burnout Crash has three game modes (Rush Hour, Road Trip and Pile Up) that are playable in six different locations and 18 crash junctions. Each different road layout requires different skills and strategies in order to stack up the highest damage, debris, and points. The game also offers Kinect controls. Gamers can also express their road rage with their whole body using the optional Kinect controls. With Kinect Party Play, up to 14 players can split into teams and use gestural controls on one television to crash and burn in an all-out battle!

My son and I tested Burnout Crash with the Xbox controller. After realizing the amount of jumping and waving we had to do on Kinect to engage the cars and crash them, this seemed like overkill and counterintuitive. The gist of the game modes of Burnout Crash is simple. I quickly found that you sit in the middle of various intersections with the goal of preventing as few cars as possible from “escaping” your demolition plan. Since the traffic is coming at you from all four directions there is a “demolition strategy” that you have to follow that maximizes the carnage (no pun intended) by smashing as many vehicles as possible. What ends up happening is that you create a pile of wrecked autos that will have a domino effect, crashing into other cars, and ultimately, if executed properly, you block the intersection. The cars cannot get through at this point, and the money piles up in the intersection with each oncoming car crash.

In Road Trip mode, you prevent five cars from making it through without crashing, and if five cars get through, the game ends. Rush Hour was both my and my son’s favorite mode. You have ninety seconds to demolish as much as possible in the intersection. There is no penalty for letting cars through. When you’re lucky enough to see the Pizza Truck come by, destroy it and you get the option to spin a wheel. The wheel will provide you with score multipliers, a car-attracting magnet, or a traffic slow down. In Pile Up, there is only a limited amount of traffic that will drive by, to which you must do as much damage as possible. After all the cars drive past, you trigger the Inferno. When cars and debris are burning, the game keeps going, but when all the fires go out, the game ends.

All in all, Burnout Crash is an amusing game. At times, the pile ups seem a little too staged and calculated, and I wanted more random scenarios of rampant demolition. Seeing the piles of cars “wrecked” together so similarly time after time got a little old after a while. Since the only time you have control of “placing” your car is after an explosion, more freedom to drive around as a junky wreck on fire (after the blast) would add more of a sense of control to the player who wants to take control of their mayhem, not to have their mayhem semi-staged. I did find the radio’s announcer’s voice to be irritating and somewhat distracting from my demolition action.

The Autolog feature is a commendable addition to the game. (The feature originated with the Need for Speed series). It’s basically a ranking and scoring system that keeps track of the high scores of your online friends. Basically it’s Burnout Crash with low-level social networking, enabling you to challenge their scores, to beat them in order to reach the top place on the leader boards.

Burnout Crash hit Xbox Live Arcade and PSN on September 20th, and can be purchased for 800 Microsoft points or $9.99 USD. Criterion Games is running a contest to see who can think of the best feature vehicle to add to Burnout Crash, with its own retro music tracks!

Check out this video with David Hasselhoff using the Kinect controls with Burnout Crash:

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