One of the premises of Burnout is that instead of racing your opponents to the finish line, you make sure that they never get there in the first place. This is through the art of the takedown, where you smash into opponents cars to clear them from your path. Burnout Crash! operates on a similar basis, however you simply have to smash into cars and buildings to gain millions of dollars worth of damage.
Criterion’s Burnout series is one that I have much love for. I’ve put hour after hour into playing some of their incredible hits on the PS2 such as Point of Impact and Takedown. When I sat down with the app for the first time, my expectations were high. But will the app live up to the bar set by its older siblings?
The game begins by showing a small toy truck ram into the title text at the top of the screen. Behind the text is a desolated backdrop, foreshadowing the widespread carnage that you’ll cause. The play button subtly pulsates, trying to draw you in to start crashing. Another thing I noticed was that when you tap the screen, a ripple spreads from your finger. Representative of the ripple effect your destruction will cause? Possibly.
Aside from getting straight into the action, there are three other options on the menu: Autolog, Achievements (represented by a Game Center icon) and settings. The Autolog, a classic feature in Criterion Games, is used to challenge friends at gaining higher scores on each crash site, showing your best scores for each one.
Pressing the Play button causes the toy car to explode before taking you to a menu that allows you to select the place you want to crash. Initially, there is only one location, however there are five more locations that you can unlock as you progress through the game.
In the background of this menu screen, there is a farm setting with what appears to be the silhouette of a truck coupled with some apt country rock music designed especially for the game. This represents the location you’ll be crashing in, because as you scroll gradually to the right, the backdrop changes accordingly.
Touching a location takes you to a menu where you can choose an event to play. Here, you can also go to the garage where you can choose a car to crash. You can also look at your crash wall which shows your highest scores and those of your friends to see where you stand amongst them.
The cars are ranked by their Crashbreaker in Power and Aftertouch. For those who haven’t played Burnout before, the Crashbreaker is the explosion of your car in order to extensively add to the damage already caused after crashing. You can change the colour of your vehicle, too.
What’s worth explaining now, is that each level has a maximum of five stars that can be obtained through the meeting of stage-specific goals. These stars are used to unlock new vehicles and locations for you to crash in. The goals are usually money based, however there are extras such as demolishing a particular building or getting a certain combo during the crash.
Time to Crash!
Instead of the traditional rear view of the car, this game has opted for a birds-eye-view, much like in GTA Chinatown Wars on the Nintendo DS. The car is driven up a series of intersections by holding your finger in the direction you want to move. I have to admit, this mechanic didn’t really hit the spot with me. The car feels a little small and the driving doesn’t make you feel like you’re in enough control.
You need to slam into some traffic before you can begin destroying. Once you’ve taken out a car or two, you can slide across the screen to literally flick your ride across the area to slam into oncoming traffic and the surrounding environment. You have the Crashbreaker too, and that can help you cause massive damage.
Cause a sufficient level of damage and you’ll be able to explode a second time, controlling where your car gets sent to in the process. Whilst you erupt into flames relentlessly, traffic will most likely slam into the debris you have just created, giving you time to concentrate on obliterating the surroundings. The crash ends when you either run out of time, let five cars escape or reach the damage limit for that particular level.
It’s plenty fun watching everything explode, but the process can get a bit tiring doing it again and again, level after level. Luckily, there are a few extra twists to keep you entertained. There are these pizza vans that, once destroyed, allow you to spin the “Pizza of Fortune” for a bonus feature to come into effect. These can be things like the magnetisation of your vehicle so that cars get attracted to you, or “Good Cops” that will come to save the day but hopelessly crash into your stockpile of vehicles in the middle of the road.
Another notable extra the app has is a super feature which initiates when you fill up your crash meter enough times. This crash meter triggers the other cool features too, such as the magnet and a bank truck that puts cash bonuses across the area upon destruction. The super feature is a random supernatural occurrence that completely devastates when remains in the stage and can bring about huge cash bonuses.
Against Other Burnout Titles?
What this app does is put a new take on the Burnout franchise, and not without a little flaw or two. If companies weren’t adventurous like this then we’d never get the abstract expansion that makes some games incredible. This game is quite like the Halo Wars of Burnout, in the sense that you might not like it because it’s not what you’re used to.
Like I said in the intro, I opened this app looking for it to live up to it’s predecessors, and whilst that wish was unfulfilled, I came back with a different experience altogether. This is a lateral expansion of the franchise, and not the vertical one that I was expecting. One thing that’s also important to consider is that the app costs a minimal $4.99, making it a huge value purchase.
This app uniquely takes the crash from Burnout and turns it into an enjoyable and addictive mini-game that will have you playing for hours on end. Whilst not what you may expect from a Burnout title, it still offers an amusing and full gaming experience.