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Saturday September 11, 2004 10:39 am

Burnout 3 Game Review


Burnout3



This has been a pretty exciting week for me. First I was able to snag a hard-to-find Rio Carbon unit. Then I managed to pick up EA's latest racer, Burnout 3 for the Playstation 2 on its release date. After getting tired of waiting for the next Gran Turismo, I decided to give this racer a try. My library really needed a solid traditional racer, and boy does this thing deliver. We know that all of our readers love to play games as well, so click below to read Gear Live's first of what we hope will be many game reviews to come.

GAME INFORMATION

Release Date: September 8, 2004
Price: $42.99-49.99
Features: Online and Split-Screen Play
System: PS2 and XBox

THE EXPERIENCE

A small yellow number "3" appears in the center of the screen, before a quick count-down to "1". As the countdown ends, you slam onto the gas, hearing the tires squeal in anticipation. Clouds of smoke erupt from the backs of the racers ahead of you, before fading away to reveal the grainy asphalt. You're now cruising as fast as you can, squinting for a chance to see the leader, when another rival passes your right side.

"Now's my chance," you say to yourself. You forcibly steer to your right side, scraping shards of metal off the opponent. Slowly you edge him over to the wall, until you feel he's deep in enough to succumb to it. He's launched into the air in a sparkling chaos of twisted metal, flying tires, and broken glass. Your speed boost is now increased, so you pull down on the turbo, your eyes widening as the road becomes a speeding blur of gravel and oncoming traffic.

This is the experience that is Burnout 3. People with weak hearts need not apply.

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PLAYABILITY

Criterion has really hit the nail on the head with this year's version of Burnout 3 (BO3). It's deep, insanely fast, silky smooth, and charged with so much wickedness that your jaw will drop repeatedly while tearing through its streets. The controls are very intuitive, requiring only a quick glance at the thin manual to get a hang of everything. You have gas and brakes each on dedicated buttons, and a turbo button located at R1 for an extra boost. Finally, you can use the R2 button for the crash-breaker maneuver during the crash modes, which we will get to in a bit.

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PRESENTATION

Looking at the menu screens, the various modes of play are presented adequatetly. Once you enter the World Tour mode (the main section of the game), the various locations around the globe are zoomed towards the screen as you select them, before they "sharpen up" as if you were bringing a digital picture into focus. You see the run of the track from an overhead perspective, and the name of the event is displayed on the right side of the screen, along with other locked events.

Loading times were not too bad, but you do have them often, especially when events are very short, which gets a little annoying. The game saves before it tells you what you've unlocked at a particular event, which felt sort of backwards at first, but I can understand allowing the menu system to move quickly right after an unlockable is presented. You'll hear an announcer welcome you to the circuit you're about to play, similar to the announcer in SSX3, but not anywhere near as good. It sounds a little generic, and feels almost like an afterthought rather than something Criterion really invested in to make you feel like you're in the midst of a great racing community.

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CONTROLS

I thoroughly enjoyed the controls to the actual racing. They're quite simple really, and you'll have no trouble executing power slides by using the brakes and gas simultaneously. You're going to need to too, in order to make some of those turns without slowing down too much and to also fill up your boost meter. Performing different maneuvers will net you more boost, located on the lower left of your screen.

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So you're encouraged - no, wait - strongly urged, to pull off wicked driving techniques in order to get rewards. We've seen this type of thing in the "Kudos" system of the Project Gotham series, but this time around, making your opponents crash into various ledges, trucks, walls and buildings is fundamental to your success. On an unfamiliar track you're bound to have a little more trouble navigating the turns of course, but on others I found that I came in first place on my very first try.

PROGRESSION

BO3 rewards you quite often. It feels like you're always unlocking some new racer or some new event. This is primarily a function of how much damage you can cause during a race, along with how you finish. I find it funny that you earn gold silver and bronze for such wanton destruction, especially so close after the Olympic Games. When you finish a race, the game will oftentimes lead you to a garage where you'll find a new ride. Based on points awarded for your finish, or driving finesse, you can unlock anything from compacts and muscle cars, to eventually trucks, vans, and F1-type racers. While in the garage, the camera continually spins around the vehicle in a 360 motion. I found it akin to walking around a car to "check it out" after you've acquired it.

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Unfortunately you can't modify your car and engine like some of the more recent racers, but then again that's not what this game is all about, so it doesn't feel like a huge omission. Also, as you earn more vehicles, they do look like they're being tricked out with different parts and paint styles, which is not bad for an arcade style racer. There are two main categories of vehicle characteristics: top speed and weight. You will see the lighter cars catch more air on the hilly freeways, which can be a good or bad thing. Good because you get points for such maneuvers that result in unlockables and speed boost. Bad, because you may be jostled out of positioned easier.

The thing will be a little more of a letdown is the lack of licensed cars. However, I can understand this. If you were a manufacturer, how would you like to see your car smashed to smithereens? Yes, it's only a game, but it's also an image thing that could speak to the unreliability or fragileness of the vehicle you put out.

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Other good things abound. Sometimes, when racing you'll push a rival car into the edge of a wall so hard, that it will spin madly out of cont(

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