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In Memory
Sean Pettibone

Burnout 3: Takedown (Xbox)




By Michael Palisano

Taking expectations for racing titles to the next level, Criterion and EA's Burnout 3: Takedown is an amazing experience from both a gameplay and a technological standpoint. This intensely fast racer lets players loose in some of the most intense and fastest driving ever attempted. The game rewards aggressive driving, and players are rewarded for Takedowns - causing opponents to crash into walls. Burnout 3 features dozens of race types, hundreds of unlockable mini-games and extras to make for a comprehensive game. It's solo mode is intense and thrilling, but players can also compete against each other online for an even more thrilling ride. This is all packaged with some of the slickest graphics seen in any racing title to date, making Burnout 3 one of the best racing games on any platform to date.

Even though there are dozens of racing titles on the market these days, EA's Burnout 3: Takedown immediately stands out from the pack with it's incredibly intense gameplay, stunningly realistic crash animations and a seemingly unlimited amount of unlockable content. The gameplay remains true to the previous Burnout titles, but Takedown adds many enhancements that bring the series directly into the elite class of driving titles. Taking an arcade-style approach to the genre, Burnout 3 rewards players who drive aggressively. In fact, performing dangerous maneuvers and causing massive amounts of damage is required in order to progress through the game. You begin with a basic car that you can use to race through the various levels. During each level, you can Takedown an opponent by knocking them into a wall, causing them to crash into another vehicle or flipping over, to name a few basic maneuvers. When you Takedown another vehicle, you'll earn Nitro speed boost which is added to your power bar. The more cars you take down, the more boost you'll earn while chaining multiple Takedowns at once makes your boost bar fill up amazingly fast. However, your rivals can also cause you to crash, which sucks. The bright side is that when you crash, you can use the "Aftertouch" mode to slow down the crash and literally steer your car's wreckage. If you cause a Takedown in this slow motion mode, you'll actually earn boost for your vehicle. You have to be aware that other civilian cars can't be taken down, only rivals. Crashing into these non-competitors will cause damage, so you need to avoid them. It's not too terribly difficult to do this at normal speeds, but try weaving around these vehicles while you're driving on the wrong side of the road and boosting simultaneously. The amount of traffic you face depends on the course you're driving on, with city courses offering more obstacles than isolated country roads. There are other ways to earn boost such as driving against oncoming traffic, narrowly avoiding other vehicles, drifting, gaining air and more. This makes for an amazingly fun and entertaining racing experience that gives you an intense ride. Burnout 3's superb racing action would be more than enough to keep players coming back for more, but the multiple modes of play make it an incredibly addictive game.

You can familiarize yourself with the basic mechanics by playing a few quick rounds in Arcade mode which doesn't offer many extras or unlockables. Once you've done this, you'll probably want to go deeper into the game. Burnout 3: Takedown allows players to access dozens of event types through the course of its incredibly deep single-player World Tour mode. With more than 100 available events, there's plenty to keep you bust. Players can choose to play any event type that's open at the selection screen, and can choose to play these in any order they want to. This gives Burnout 3 a non-linear structure where you don't feel locked into a certain path. You can skip around to different continents and courses with ease. The mini-games offer many different types of play including standard races, where you have to battle the other racers for position. These races can include point-to-point and lapped races. You can also compete against other racers in Tournament matches. Burnout 3 also includes a timed mode called Burning Lap where you have to beat the clock and an Eliminator mode where the races ends for the last-place finisher on each lap. These racers usually require you to boost non-stop and drive against traffic. These standard racing modes are quite cool, but there are more interesting modes as well. You can compete head to head against an opponent in a deathmatch mode, and if you defeat this rival, you'll win their car. Burnout 3 also includes a Road Rage mode, where the object is to destroy a certain number of rival cars before the timer runs out or you total your own vehicle. This is definitely a challenging mode especially later on as the enemy AI becomes more intelligent, making Takedowns harder to accomplish. Finally, the game includes a really incredible and unqiue crash mode, where you have to cause as much damage as possible by ramming into a crowded street and causing a rapid chain reaction of damage. Once your vehicle has crashed, you can set off a Crashbreaker event. This makes your car explode and can cause additional damage. After the car explodes, a timer ticks down and any damage is tallied up in dollars. This is one of the most innovative modes seen in a driving game recently. It's really fun, and effectively showcases the game engine's amazing level of realism and detail. The crash mode is a truly innovative experience, and while somewhat mindless is thoroughly enjoyable and addictive. When you win an event, you'll be rewarded with a medal and unlockables, depending on your score, number of takedowns, cash or damage caused. What's cool is that you can unlock multiple events, cars and stages at once if you really perform well and earn a gold medal. These numerous rewards will keep you going back for more, adding to the game's longevity.

Playing Burnout 3's single player modes is an adrenaline-fueled blast, but the game's multiplayer and online modes add even more frenetic intensity to the experience. Players can choose to compete against friends using either a standard split screen mode or online using Xbox Live. The gameplay modes available in these modes mirror the main game, but there are some clever variations that make the online experience all the more exciting. The Crash Party mode is intense as you compete against other players in crash mode to create the biggest crash. Players can also team up with another driver in Double Crash mode to cause the most damage. In addition, players can compete in standard races. The Xbox Live modes support up to 8 players at once in a single game and as usual, the service performance with the game is sterling with little in the way of lag and an excellent interface to set up games and chat with other players. Both the online and solo modes offer exciting gameplay and the game throws an unrelenting amount of unlockables and bonus items at you. There are more than 17 different game modes which take place on more than 40 tracks and with 60 vehicles. The vehicles range from standard coupes to custom muscle cars, Formula One racers, and more. If you're really good enough, you can unlock buses, tanks and prototype vehicles. This comprehensive garage offers exceptional variety. Though none of the vehicles in the game are licensed, the sheer volume more than makes up for it.

From a visual standpoint, Burnour 3 leaves most other contenders choking on its dust. The game's beautifully rendered vehicles showcase plenty of detail with shimmering paint jobs brilliantly reflecting light and shadow throughout. However nice they look undamaged, it's the slow-motion crash animations that effectively gives the driving a savage, brutal feel. Windshields shatter, hoods cave-in, doors fly off, side bodies take unbelievable hits, tires squeal, hoods are ripped off. All done with an amazing realism that brings the crashes to life. The physics models are also very impressive and stunningly authentic. In the crash modes, massive multi-car pileups occur with an amazing degree of accuracy that gives you a certain twisted sense of satisfaction. Burnout 3's unprecedented realism sets new standards in both car modeling and dynamic collision detection. You can see parts flying off vehicles, and instead of landing, bounce around or hit other cars. These realistic crashes take place in breathtaking environments that range from mountainous dirt roads, to busy urban streets. The level of detail in trackside objects is quite stunning with houses and buildings rendered effectively. The light sourcing, reflection and environmental effects are quite stunning throughout even more so when you factor in the game's blistering speed and smooth frame rates. They're aesthetically pleasing but the varied track layouts can be challenging as well. You can traverse single lane roads, tunnels, and multiple lane highways in the course of a single race. Most of the courses are straightforward, but the game also includes some branching and hidden areas as well. The polished look of the game extends to the crashes themselves, where the action slows down to slow-motion, allowing you to soak in every crunch and impact as they happen. Burnout 3's graphics engine sets new standards in real-time rendering and technology, but the game's sound effects and music are also superb. Burnout 3's violent crash sounds feel authentic, as the destruction piles on, with the sounds of squealing tires and crumpling metal bring the action home. The series' new allegiance with EA has paid off in a better soundtrack as well, with a variety of pop-punk and metal acts adding to the game's intensity and brilliance. Unfortunately, these excellent tunes are marred by some lame "DJ" banter between songs, which is distracting and annoying. Fortunately, this lame banter can be turned off, making this only a minor problem with otherwise outstanding production values. 

Players looking for an intense driving experience need to look no further than Burnout 3: Takedown. This is by far, the best looking and playing arcade racer on the current generation of consoles. While the previous titles in the series were excellent, this third installment takes everything to an extreme level that ratchets up the intensity to create an almost surreal amount of destruction, mayhem and chaos. The game offers many different play modes, numerous unlockable cars, tracks and other rewards, and non-linear structure makes it endlessly addictive. You can unlock tons of items by winning races and the game opens up very quickly. The graphics engine is one of the best ever seen on a console. The level of detail and incredible sense of speed the game creates is unprecedented, giving you an instantaneous adrenaline rush that keeps you coming back for more. Burnout 3's silky smooth controls means the vehicles are incredibly responsive, making stunts and takedowns surprisingly intuitive to perform. Burnout 3's epic crash animations are the series' trademark. The Xbox edition comes alive with an amazing level of detail and realism that makes the action seemingly explode off the screen. Add in the unbelievably cool "Aftertouch" mode to make for one of the most breathtaking racers to date, in any genre. This is an incredibly intense racing experience without parallel on any current generation console. It's highly polished graphics, amazing physics and AI make for endlessly addictive gameplay. Burnout 3: Takedown sets a new standard for the genre in many areas. It is without a doubt, one of the best-playing and looking arcade-style racing titles we've ever played, making it an absolute must-purchase for any Xbox owner.

Grade: A+

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