Criterion Games is known for their Burnout and the new Need for Speed games. They brought the world a new Road Rage game for this generation. The idea of cars, speed, and crashing is already a perfect formula and seeing it executed the way Criterion Games has is any gamer’s wet dream. But to this day, one game in the Burnout series has stood out more than others Criterion has put out, and that game is Burnout 3: Takedown. I played this game a lot. And I mean a lot. I love cars. I love speed. And I love crashing. So, how can I say no to a game like this? The attention this game got back in the days was pretty high, but still I believed it didn’t get the recognition it deserved. I have never played Burnout or Burnout 2: Point of Impact, but through ratings and word of mouth, the third installment was and still is the best in the franchise.
Developed and released on September 7, 2004, I learned how to trash talk and crash in a way that you would call art. The game was developed for both the Playstation 2 and the Xbox. Surprisingly Acclaim, the original publisher, bankrupted before this game released and it was EA Games coming to the rescue and publishing this game after a few changes were made. I must say, usually EA Games gets a lot of flak from the gaming community (and rightfully so), but they did one thing right and published one of my favorite childhood games of all time.
The synopsis is plain and simple like in all racing games. There was none. You just picked an event that dealt with racing or crashing. That was it. Just try to achieve the highest score/medal and unlock a bevy of vehicles and courses. However, the challenges weren’t plain and/or simple. They were actually challenging and made you either gain skill to achieve it or you quitting and failing forever. Ok, ok, it’s not that harsh, but there will be some frustrations involved with you and your controller.
Single player was great, as there were a variety of races and crash modes available. The races were fairly easy, depending on how lucky or unlucky you are when you are facing traffic. The AI isn’t really a competitor (but what AI is?) in the races, so you are just going for the best time most of the time. However, there are time trials and other challenges added to the game that are a challenge. For example, you take an F1-like car and try to survive for 3 minutes at full boost. That was freaking hard, I don’t even think I even beat it…sigh… Well at least that gives me a reason to go back for some more. There was another mode called Road Rage and you had to take out as many rival cars as you can in a given amount of time. That was great watching all that destruction constantly.
Crash mode was all about crashing, obviously. Start your way from the starting line and try to collect the bonus multipliers and money to boost up your score. Find a “crash heavy” spot and boost your way into traffic to create a destructive and chaotic art of fire and metal. Finally, for a cherry topper, detonate your car in the right moment to enjoy more explosions and add some last second points to your overall score. Seriously, crash mode was made for Michael Bay. Explosions, explosions, and some more explosions on top of the explosions!
Multiplayer online was possible in this game, but this was a time when the PS2 needed a network adapter, which barely anyone I knew had, and or an XBOX Live account, which I also didn’t have. So sadly the online play was a no go for me. But that didn’t matter if you have friends, because this game was a big sh*t-talking fest between my friends and I ever had. We mainly played Takedown where you and your buddy competed on who gets the most takedowns (crashing opponent’s cars) in a certain time period. Watching you bash and crash your friend’s car into oblivion and slow-motion had a satisfying feeling. Then the trash talk came and my friends and I just went at it even more. There were other modes in multiplayer as well, such as the usual racing and crash modes. We barely played those modes, because in the end we would just see how many times we can bash each other off the road.
The graphics were amazing. The course environments are beautifully designed and littered with traffic. This game pushed the PS2 and the Xbox graphical capabilities to the limit. The shattering glass, the twisted metal, and the explosions from various cars filled the screen, and yet there was no screen tearing or graphical hiccup seen. Especially when you are in a crash event, the endless destruction didn’t hamper the system at all. Special effects were also gorgeous, such as when the boost is applied and the blur effect gave a sheer sense of speed. Cars were also well drawn and handled like an arcade racing game would; easy to maneuver and drift around the course. There were no flaws in the technical department, except for the machine itself not being able to pump out more graphical beauty.
The sound and music was also one of the best I’ve ever heard in a racing game. The choice of music would remind you of the punk/alternative/rock played in the Tony Hawk series. It was a perfect blend of music to drive to and would blend well with the sounds of cars crashing and speeding through a race. Many of the bands featured, I really didn’t know, but they were damn good. I don’t remember one song being out of place and you can listen to it all day without getting bored to death.
I still consider this game one of my top games of the PS2/GameCube/XBOX generation. The music, the graphics, the replay-ability, and most importantly, the fun factor is what made this game. There were a few flaws such as the AI and some of the ridiculously hard challenges. But my memories of this game are still intact and what I remember was near racing perfection.