Burnout 3: Takedown

1st July 2005
reviewer: Rich
rating: 5 out of 5
developed by: Criterion
published by: Electronic Arts
released: 10th September 2004
rrp: £29.99
formats: PS2, Xbox

Burnout was novel and exciting: it took the arcade racing genre and turned it up to eleven. Burnout 2 was the logical uberfied sequel; it improved on the predecessor in every way imaginable and added some nice gameplay enhancements. When it was released, I was fairly certain that Burnout 2 was the pinnacle of arcade racing, and was totally unsure how the gifted Criterion code-monkeys would be able to enhance the series in any meaningful way within this console generation. Burnout 3: Takedown besmirches me publicly and makes me look as intelligent the Beckhams for even doubting the boys behind it. Takedown is the greatest arcade racer ever made. Not because it’s the fastest and best looking (which it is); not because the handling model is revolutionary (it isn’t); nor is it because they’ve tacked online play onto Burnout 2 (they have to a degree). No, it’s because they’ve taken the game back to the drawing board, worked out what made the series so much fun to begin with, tinkered with said fun-making stuff and come up with a totally new and enhanced experience which loses nothing of the series’ essence or greatness. Oh, and it’s been shined to the Nth degree and finished with a coat of that EA lacquer that fools people into buying FIFA games.

So. Very. Fast
So. Very. Fast

I shit thee not motherfucker: this game’s got mad skillz, and I’m talking old skool b-boy mad skillz here too. When Criterion went back to the drawing board they knew they were adding a new element to the series: for the first time in a Burnout game, we can race online. There are certain things associated with online racing games that can be rather annoying: principally, people going around the wrong way, messing up your perfect laps. Criterion have flipped this problem on its head and made it an objective of the game to try and do over your opponent. Now what are those little American fools with the voice masks on Xbox Live going to do, drive sensibly?

Calm down dear, it's only a takedown
Calm down dear, it's only a takedown

The whole “Burnout” concept of building up your boost and using it all continuously is now gone. You can use boost whenever you choose; however, building it up by traditional methods will only get you so far. In Takedown taking out an opponent extents the maximum amount of boost you can store. Get taken out and it’s removed again. Like the original premise for Burnout, this is simple yet highly effective. In addition to this change, there is now a “World Tour”-style structure. This gives the player a hub from which to choose races and challenges. Completing these will unlock new cars, tracks and crash junctions. Online play is much like the single player games, only with real people. To be honest, the initial reactions from Xbox Live users indicate that Takedown's connection methods and play matching aren’t as good as those in PGR2, which narrowly holds onto its Best Online Racer crown. For PlayStation 2 though, nothing touches it. It’s right up there with Socom 2 for PS2 online experiences.

Overall it’s one of, if not the best looking console game I've seen. The EA fundage has led to a rock-heavy mass of superb licensed music to accompany the faultless Dolby Pro Logic II/Dolby Digital Surround Sound. It has huge amounts for the player to see and do, it's online and it perfectly evolves all that was good about the previous games. Without a doubt the best racing (as opposed to driving) game of 2004.