Review: Burnout 3: Takedown Games | My Reviews 11 NOV 2007

Burnout 3 TakedownI despise racing games in general. The only racing game I ever played with any hint of enjoyment was Colin McRae 2.0, and that was possibly because I got it during my varsity exam period and really didn’t want to study anyway. But then I laid my hands on Burnout 3 some time back and finally my eyes were opened to just what a racing game ought to be. Forget meticulous tuning. Forget carefully shifting gears at the right moment for maximum drive. Forget skillfully handling curves to get the fastest corner exit times. In fact, forget all you want to about skilled driving, get into the car and gun it, never let the boost button go and make sure to smash the competition right out of your way.

Burnout 3 is quite simply an adrenaline rush. Termed aggressive driving, Burnout 3 is a racing game for people who don’t like racing games. The emphasis is on pure speed, aggression and some of the most spectacular crashes you will ever witness. Add the fact that the game is fairly forgiving when it comes to your driving skills, Burnout 3 is one of those essential games that you really should give a spin if you are any type of gamer. It is that hard not to enjoy!

Burnout is split into 2 main types of events. First there are the racing events, which include normal races, preview and burning laps, eliminator events and road rage challenges. Then there are the crash junctions, which basically involve you aiming to get the highest score possible by inflicting the maximum amount of carnage on the poor unsuspecting traffic below.

There are 18 tracks to choose from, split over 3 regions, namely the USA, Europe and Far East. The tracks themselves are demarcated differently for each race, meaning there a quite a few variations of the track available for you to race on. In fact, Burnout 3 features 173 different events for you to play, so there should be no complaints on longevity for this title.

Normal races pit you against five other computer-controlled opponents, with the goal of reaching the end point in first, second or third place. Now the driving AI itself isn’t all that great, but this is more than compensated for by the nasty traffic Burnout places on the track for you to avoid, as well as a particularly heinous …rubberband’ catch up system which basically means that although you can fall behind your opponents, it is impossible for you to outrun them because the system keeps placing them right behind you. This can get pretty frustrating as you progress in the game, particularly as the cars keep getting faster and faster.

During the races there are a number of specialized driving skills you can put to the use in order to earn boost, like drifting, tailgating or even driving against oncoming traffic (which isn’t actually a bad option because the oncoming cars’ lights make them easier to spot from a distance). Your boost bar itself can be lengthened by taking your opponents out, either by slamming them into walls or other traffic – note that the reverse is just as true if you get taken out. The AI-controlled cars are docile at the start of a race, but the more you bump into them and try to take them out, the more aggressive they become – which tends to make races become more like dogfights than car chases.

Road Rage events gives you a target number of target race cars to take out before the timer runs out while Eliminator races are basically normal races with the added bonus that every 30 seconds or so, the last place competitor blows up – so stay far away from the back of the pack if you can! Preview and Burning Laps are basically the same thing, giving you a set time to beat for each course.

The game takes a complete turn about when it comes to Crash Junctions though. Here you are basically given a car, shown a preview of the junction ahead and then let lose in order to create the biggest pileup you can. Each car damaged earns you points and there are some nice bonus pickups to help your cause along.

The graphics of Burnout 3: Takedown are nothing short of breathtaking. Lavishly designed race courses and backdrops are treat on the eye, but it is the gorgeously designed and shaded cars that truly take your breath away. – And then there is the sheer speed of the game. Burnout is one of the few racing games that truly portray breakneck speed with such clarity that you are literally left with sweaty hands and a racing pulse after each race. Add that to some of the best crash damage and dynamic camera angles ever seen in a game and you have nothing short of a visual spectacle. – (Of course, now that EA released the game, you are unfortunately also subjected to a few annoying in-game ad placements, which are always a bit of a minus to any gamer).

The soundtrack is just as much of a scorcher, with Criterion pushing for an all high energy punk rock mix which is definitely perfectly suited for keeping that adrenaline pumping as you race around the track at death-defying speeds. The game also features a DJ Stryker for CrashFM voiceover that acts as an info giver as well as a pain in the neck sometimes. People are divided over this inclusion in an otherwise flawless game, but in all honesty I kind of liked the poor dude.

In the end, Burnout 3: Takedown is the kind of racer that even your non-gaming girlfriend will pick up and take you on with – it is simply that awesome!

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About Craig Lotter

South African software architect and developer at Touchwork. Husband to a cupcake baker and father to two little girls. I don't have time for myself any more.