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Burnout 3: Takedown (PlayStation 2) artwork

Burnout 3: Takedown (PlayStation 2) review


"Watch someone who’s played a few videogames—newcomers to the medium don't count. Maybe your little brother enjoying the latest shitty licensed superhero disc? I guess it doesn’t matter. My point is this: most of the time, no matter how intense the action on screen, no matter how much your brother may be enjoying himself, he’ll probably be slowly jiggling the thumbstick, methodically pressing a buttons or two, his eyes unblinking but glazed over. "



Watch someone who’s played a few videogames--newcomers to the medium don't count. Maybe your little brother enjoying the latest shitty licensed superhero disc? I guess it doesn’t matter. My point is this: most of the time, no matter how intense the action on screen, no matter how much your brother may be enjoying himself, he’ll probably be slowly jiggling the thumbstick, methodically pressing a buttons or two, his eyes unblinking but glazed over.

Now put Burnout 3 in the system. Your brother’s twitching a little bit, his eyes unblinking but wild. He'll grit his teeth and look away from the screen in disgust one minute, then stare in amazement, place one hand on his forehead and laugh maniacally the next, that “No way!” grin plastered to his face. Such is the power of a game asking--nay, demanding only that you drive really, really fast and make other cars crash while doing it. This is a racing game, and I can tell you that Burnout 3: Takedown is indeed a high-octane thrill ride and, yes, it does leave its competition in the dust.

The mechanics here are so devilishly simple and well-implemented as to be virtually irresistible. You can do it all online (for free!) against similarly addicted souls, and there are three ways to play.

i. Race. Yes, it's pretty self-explanatory, and there's no pre-race customization. There aren’t even any authentic makes and models from which to choose, just "muscle cars" that vaguely resemble Pontiac GTOs and “super cars” that might be mistaken for Lambroghinis. All you need to worry about is getting out there and going for the gold--the fun is in the speed and in the crashing. Keeping the boost meter stocked is the key to your success (that makes sense, right?), and the only way to fill 'er up is by performing seriously risky stunts. Honestly, there's never been a better racing gimmick. Hurtling down an icy suspension bridge at 200 mph bumping bodies with a competitor on the wrong side of the road, barely avoiding sedans and trucks and eighteen-wheelers that zip by almost too fast to see while trying to ensure your opponent doesn't avoid these vehicles--this is right where Takedown wants you. Crashing in Burnout 3 is inevitable--you'll emerge with a new car a few seconds after wiping out--a frustrating setback but a surmountable obstacle that's perfectly integrated into the action. You really don’t want to crash, but you will constantly and inevitably be drawn within inches of fiery, metal-crushing chaos.

ii. Road Rage. You're still zooming along with other cars, but there are no laps and no finish line. Instead, you are expected to destroy as many cars as possible without wrecking your own ride. Each of these takedowns is called, well, a Takedown, and some are better than others. There will always be an awesome slow-motion cut away to the totaled car, probably in the process of flipping over a guardrail or crumpling against a large, immovable object, before the camera slams back behind your car barreling forward at ludicrous speeds. But you can pull off special takedowns, like sending an opponent into a lake, and display the photos of those awesome events proudly in your trophy room.

iii. Crash. You get a nice, elegant pan that slowly works its way around a bustling, congested thoroughfare. Now drive into it! Hopefully you'll pick up a few of the score multipliers strewn around the area--make sure to think a little bit before you commence the destruction--and cause a crash or two. Hopefully those cars will crash into other cars, which will crash into other cars, which might tip over that eighteen wheeler over yonder, which might scrape and careen sideways into that parking lot full of buses. Rack up a high enough car count, activate the "Crashbreaker"--a nifty gimmick that makes your car explode in a giant hurtling fireball--and start the chain reaction all over again. You will be judged by how much damage you cause.

All of this may seem like a blunt and obvious experience, but such sheer, unbridled satisfaction is almost unheard of. If you’ve got a pulse, you’ll respond to this game--Burnout 3 is an adrenaline shot to the heart. The brilliance going on here is a furious insistence on pushing it to the limit at all times, the unruly combination of excellent game design and an almost unhealthy fetishism of wrecking shit. I must say this before I'm done: the soundtrack is an almost uniformly atrocious smattering of everything that is wrong with popular music today. Put something on that rocks as hard as this game, if you can find it.

Rating: 9.0/10

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Community review by careless_whisper (June 30, 2005)

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