Game: Burnout CRASH!
Format: XBox 360 (XBLA)
Developer: Criterion Games
Publisher: Electronic Arts
Crashing cars is horrible isn’t it. I should know. I’ve crashed a couple…. sigh…
But wait! I’ve just remembered that it’s only horrible if it’s expensive, dangerous and embarrassing.
Crashing cars is actually awesome, under the right conditions. And these are they.
Burnout CRASH! is a surprisingly exciting, entertaining and
“addicting” (*shudder*), I mean addictive top down car crashing sim. You know, that huge genre of games everyone plays all the time…
Whilst it’s always great to review a fresh idea, when it actually delivers on it’s promise, it’s doubly (or dare I say… triply… or quadruply…) exciting. People, it’s CRASH! time!!
But what is it and how does it work and stuff?
Well, basically, you begin each “level” by driving your car of choice into a busy traffic intersection and attempting to create the most havok and destruction you can without allowing any NPC cars to escape this intersection. These cars are coming from all directions, sometimes making immediate turns, so you have to be tactical, aware and quick thinking.
This might seem like a lost cause already, but fear not, for you have at your disposal the tool to exert your control over the field of play… your “Crash Breaker”. This “power”, activated simply by the “A” button, explodes your own car, powerfully affecting all nearby cars, both disabling moving ones and sending already disabled ones flying, and this is where things really start getting fun. Not only are you totally messing up a major traffic junction, which is hugely entertaining anyway, but then using the cars that accumulate to both disable other cars and destroy surrounding buildings, all powered by your self-triggered crash breaking explosions… this is car crash carnage meets pinball perfection!
Once you’ve mastered the basics, which can take a few goes, the game’s finely tuned and balanced game-play really shines through. You are very often less than a second from disaster, trying to judge an exploding car-on-car ricochet, known as a “Skillshot” in CRASH!, when a Pizza Truck or Ambulance enters the fray to really spice things up.
Somehow Criterion have totally nailed the balance between complexity, fun and ease of use, making what could have been a rather simple and lackluster, or infuriatingly difficult game into an absolute gem of addictive casual gaming.
And I haven’t even got to the best bit(s) yet!
In addition to “managing” (read “destroying”) a traffic junction including all it’s cars and buildings, trying for various pinball esque bonus feature type tactics / rewards and striving to activate each map’s “Special Feature”, which can be anything from a laser blasting UFO to a gigantic blue lobster, you are also intrinsically competing against every one of your friend’s best scores on each map and game mode, of which there are 3 per “stage”, via the superb Autolog system, of which I am a huge fan.
Add to this a growing selection of cars from which to choose, friend “Challenges”, a superb and very amusing soundtrack, spot on visuals and short stage lengths and you are really talking about a bulls-eye of a game for anyone with a life who wants to get stuck into an addictive game, solo or against their friends, without spending hours either playing each level or organising a gaming session with their buddies.
For me this really took me back to what really makes games fun and reminded me of, at different times, Death Rally, Carmageddon, a number of my favourite pinball games… (Pinbot anyone?) and overall just the fun feel of the NES generation, but suited and booted with a full set of modern visuals, sound and technology that leaves you striving for just one more star… and to just beat one more friend’s high score…
It would be remiss of me not to mention the game’s Kinect integration at this point. Rarely has a great game been so perfectly suited to Kinect and the one thing I love about it’s integration is the way it opens the game up to anyone not familiar with an XBox controller. CRASH!’s controls are so simple that Kinect really works here, and better still the development team have chosen to, in an act of genius, make the trigger for your Crash Breaker, in the game’s multi-player party mode, randomly select between actions such as jumping, kicking forward or even laying an egg, this renders even the most expert gamer a hostage to fortune as they are forced to cluck their way to a high score… cameras at the ready I think!
Oh and finally, what will this little piece of gaming heaven cost you? Only 800 Microsoft points! Seriously. But remember, it’s not your fault that Criterion have decided to so dramatically under-price their game, it’s their fault, so punish them mercilessly by taking advantage of their error! Muhahahaha! Firstly buy the game, it’s a total no-brainer, and then secondly, add me on XBL so you have someone rubbish to beat and challenge! Just because I love the game doesn’t mean I’m any good at it!
Graphics – 4/5: Top notch visuals, and it needs nothing more as game-play is very much the key here.
Sound – 4/5: Nostalgic, amusing, satisfying and great fun… much like the overall game itself then!
Gameplay – 4.5/5: Annoyingly addictive in a very good way. There, make sense of that.
Longevity – 3.5/5: Whilst the core game can be completed fairly swiftly it’s the combination of Autolog’s social gamer networking and the games seemingly ceiling-less scoring system that will keep you coming back for more.
Overall: 4 well… erm… Stars seems appropriate… out of 5
At this price every gamer should own it, that will also increase the fun to be had from it’s superb Autolog social gaming system for everyone… sometimes everyone really is a winner!
– Richard “Rax” Burley