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Believe us, racing just doesn't get any better then this...
The acquisition of Criterion by EA stands out as a particularly shrewd stroke of genius by the American conglomerate; not only have they got their hands upon the popular RenderWare middleware technology but also the Burnout series from Acclaim, and if Burnout 3: Takedown is anything to go by then this could easily become the finest racing series ever created.
As fans of the series will know, Burnout eschews the realism of racers such as Project Gotham Racing 2 and Gran Turismo for extreme racing action more akin to classics such as Outrun and Hang On. The series has always attracted a degree of popularity, however a number of significant changes and the addition of EA to the ranks, will likely propel the Burnout series on to the new level.
As we previously discussed in our Hands On look at Burnout3, the game places more emphasis on combat then previous titles in the series; as such the game is far more ferocious and aggressive then ever before â?“ quite honestly this game could be used by the government in its â??scare tacticsâ? for dangerous driving!
Much like the previous games, itâ??s all about driving fast and more importantly dangerously. Driving close to traffic or drifting into a lane of oncoming traffic awards you boost bonuses, along with drifts around corners and gaining air off jumps; however this time around smashing up your opponents grants you a â??Takedownâ?, which as you can surmise from the games title is really what itâ??s all about. Taking your rivals down not only fills your boost bar, but itâ??s also possible to extend this up to a maximum of four times its original size. Naturally however driving like this opens you up to the risk of crashing, which can reduce your boost, knock off a boost multiplier and more agonisingly leave you a couple of positions down the pecking order.
Itâ??s this simple â??riskâ? concept that drives Burnout3: Takedown and creates the unusual experience of a racing game that even those who donâ??t tend to typically enjoy the genre, will quickly find themselves grabbing hold of the pad to enjoy the exhilarating experience. Naturally the game chucks out realistic handling systems and issues such as weight transfer and differences in terrain that you may have become accustomed to with racers such as PGR2 and the GT series; replacing it with a drifty sensation more akin to classic arcade racers such as Daytona or Ridge Racer.
Perhaps the biggest addition to the series is â??Impact Timeâ?, which allows you to slow down the action and actually have an impact on the trajectory of your mangled wreck after a crash. Not only does this create a visual and acoustic sensation bordering on art, but also adds a significant gameplay feature as itâ??s possible to gain an â??Aftertouch Bonusâ? by guiding your wreck into any of your opponents that were previously behind you and trying to overtake. If youâ??re successful with this your boost meter will be replenished upon the crash and throw you straight back into the action; itâ??s a recovery manoeuvre that actually gives the crashes featured within the game some purpose, whereas in previous titles they simply provided eye-candy to stand out from the glutton of other arcade racers on the market.
Burnout 3: Takedown contains a huge selection of varying racing types along with a significant amount of different modes. The World Tour mode encompasses many of the different types, ranging from the straightforward Single Race to more elaborate Grand Prix and Road Rage events.
Fans of Burnout 2 will be pleased to know that the hugely entertaining â??Crash Modeâ? makes a reappearance in Takedown, however thanks to the inclusion of the Impact Time feature and a number of other changes, this has been taken to the next level.
For those that may not have had the opportunity to sample the delights in Crieterionâ??s previous title, the Crash Mode tasks you with the simple, yet oh-so-fun, objective of causing the biggest pile-up possible. The player is presented with over 100 different scenarios, and much like Burnout 2, a certain degree of success comes from working out the best possible place to create the most destruction. However this time around the game chucks in a number of bonuses to drive over and collect, ranging from auto-boost to cash and score multipliers; quite literally this mode takes on a completely new dimension compared to the previous effort. The mode also benefits from a rather nifty aspect named the â??Crashbreakerâ?, which allows you to spectacularly explode your car and take others with you, when youâ??ve totalled a certain amount of cars.
The result is a mode that retains the enjoyment of Burnout 2, yet adds an extensive layer of depth to the proceedings â?“ itâ??s a gaming experience that is oh so wrong, yet delightfully enjoyable. Throw in a variety of on and offline multiplayer variations and you have a game mode that will literally last you for months; itâ??s so delightfully simple and designed to just pick up and have a go, the only problem is that youâ??re unlikely to let go once you start.
Returning to the World Tour mode, players unlock more and more powerful cars as they progress through the ranks, obtaining Bronze, Silver or Gold medals. Itâ??s a great learning curve that seems to hit it spot on with everybody whoâ??s stumbled into the TVG office and demanded to have a go â?“ trying to get the scroungers off is often the hardest part of the game! The whole progression system works brilliantly through Burnout 3: Takedown and ensures youâ??ll stay hooked until its done, keeping tracks on your progress and awarding the player accordingly.
With a game that is as brutal as Burnout 3: Takedown youâ??d expect the opponents you race against to have one or two nefarious tricks up their sleeves, and in this respect Takedown doesnâ??t disappoint but quite literally astounds. The game incorporates a rival system similar to that featured in the SSX series; so although you may start off without too many troubles, knock one of them off a few times and youâ??ll notice an icon above them change to a red â?“ which indicates their out for one thing, to smash you from the road. Weâ??ve honestly never encountered a racing experience as intense as that featured in Burnout 3, AI opponents will not need a second thought before smashing you into a wall or ramming you into oncoming traffic; the result is a game that remains on the manic side of brutal from the starting line to the finishing point.
Visually the game is astounding, certainly representing the finest racer weâ??ve seen on the Playstation2 and up there with the very best on the Xbox. Perhaps the most noticeable aspect is the sheer sensation of speed; no game comes close to the effect Criterion has come up with, when youâ??re travelling at 150mph+ you certainly know about it, itâ??s a real 60â??s Batman moment as though theyâ??ve suddenly doubled the film speed!
The crashes have also been dramatically enhanced thanks to an amazing new particle system, which perfectly depicts sparks flying off when you come into contact with something or a hail of them upon the more serious collisions. The actual car models are nicely detailed and sport a very clean, shiny look, although naturally when the game is throwing around so many on-screen it lacks the overall solidarity of titles such as PGR2.
Every aspect comes together to create a gaming experience that is one of the most polished and perfected we’ve ever seen, regardless of genre – you simply need Burnout 3: Takedown now…
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