The Average Gamer

Burnout CRASH! with the Dev Team (360)

I was invited to Criterion Games last week to try out their upcoming XBLA and PSN game, Burnout CRASH! Rather than being the traditional 3D car-porn Burnout game that we all know and love, Criterion Games have taken the crash mode that was dropped from Burnout Paradise (sad face) and made a 2D standalone game. In the words of producer Dan McDonald “We’re using this to keep the Burnout name alive, in the short term.” Make of that what you will, boys and girls.

The Kinect Party mode has been demonstrated quite a lot at E3 and Gamescom but what you don’t often realise is that there are actually three traditional controller-based modes that make up most of the game:

  • Road Trip
  • Pile Up
  • Rush Hour

When it comes to pure actions, the modes are very similar. Block off the incoming cars, blow things up. Each scoring method, however, requires a different approach. In Road Trip, if you let 5 cars escape the map, the level ends. Catch loads of cars and you’re rewarded bonuses like a row of police cars who will block a whole road for you. Catch all the cars and you’ll get the end-of-level destruction that wipes out all remaining building. Watch out for the clockwork shark. In Pile-up, you’re free to cause as much destruction as possible, which includes smashing down buildings and racking high scores by doing “skillshots” – i.e. exploding next to a car to send it careening across the map into another, preferably triggering a chain reaction of explosions when it hits.

There’s also gold car hidden on every map. Crashing into this will give you a huge bump to your score. You’ll know when you find it because the stirring strains of Spandau Ballet’s Gold will chime in over the explosions. Yup, most of Burnout CRASH! was inspired by the music of the 80s and early 90s, with Vanilla Ice, Salt ‘n’ Pepa’s Push It and half a dozen other songs making an appearance. The team wasn’t directly trying to target us gamers in our late 20s and early 30s but with most of the developers in that age range, the soundtrack “just seemed to fit”.

As a fan of the “traditional” crash mode seen in Burnout 3 and Burnout 4, I admit that I was horrified when I saw the first screenshots. Having sat down and played through a good few levels, it’s actually a good game. It’s fun. You need tactics and you can take a variety of approaches to beat your friends high scores which, thanks to the integrated Autolog, you won’t be able to avoid.

If a friend has beaten your score on a map, it will be shown in the menu during map selection with an A symbol. Rather more helpfully, you can use the Autolog feature to send direct challenges to your friends through the main game menu, choosing a venue, type and car. They’ll get ONE chance to beat your score, so no Cheaty McCheatersons playing a bunch of times and submitting the best score.

And so we come to the final mode: Kinect Party. Playing this by yourself makes you feel like a complete tit, running about your living room laying pretend eggs. Kinect treats your position from centre as an analog stick position and you have to do certain motions to crash your car – jump, squat, wave, lay aforementioned eggs and so on. Silly to do solo but fun in a group. As is always the way with Kinect, “you are the controller” so even people who are afraid of the 17-button shockers to which we gamers are all accustomed can join in. The imprecise level of control does a nice job of levelling the playing field and when you combine the Pizza of Fortune modifiers and other level features, everyone has a chance. Except me.

Watch the video of me and Asim Tanvir from Next-Gen Gaming Blog playing against EA’s Dan Sheridan and Criterion Games’ Dan McDonald, Garry Casey and Sean Donnelly.

Burnout CRASH! will be released on XBLA for 800MSP and PSN on 20th September. No PSN price confirmed yet.