Review: Burnout 3: Takedown (Playstation 2)

In this review, car parts go flying in the Playstation 2 game Burnout 3: Takedown. We find out if this combat racing game is worth a play.

This game was released in 2004 and is the third in the series.

We are already growing quite familiar with this series. We first played the original Burnout game. That game got a pretty solid score. Next up, we tried Burnout 2: Point of Impact. That game impressively got an identical score. So, we thought we’d try the third in the series to see if this game continues to be a rather solid series.

The game does take things into a bit of a different direction than the previous games. While the race series is certainly there, the rout branches out in far more directions. In fact, there are so many ways you can tackle this game, it seems almost overwhelming at first. You start in North America and tackle a few races. From there, you begin to unlock not only new races, but also new continents. You’ll eventually take on races in Europe and Asia as well.

Adding to the experience is a radio DJ who offers casual commentary throughout the races via Crash FM. It seems he is spinning the records for this particular game.

As for the races themselves, there are a number of different types. There is the preview lap which makes you take one lap around the circuit race. You race against the clock.

A second type of race is the normal race. Featured prominently in the previous game, in this game, you take on 5 other racers in a (typically, but not always) 3 lap race. First to cross the finish line wins.

A returning race is called Crash. Crash isn’t so much a race as it is a puzzle type event. The goal is to hit an intersection at the right angle and speed to cause the most expensive car pile up possible. Making things interesting are the item pickups. There is the bronze, silver, and gold coins. They are worth an additional $5,000, $10,000, and $20,000 respectively.

Additionally are the multipliers. There is the 2x, 4x, and the heartbreaker. These are not cumulative, but the 4x overrules the 2x and the heartbreaker overrules everything. 2x and 4x multiply your total wreck by that much. The heartbreaker, however, cuts your value in half. So, this is a pickup you want to avoid at all costs if you are hoping for a medal. As you progress through the different crash intersections, the 4x gradually becomes an absolute mandatory item pickup.

Also, there are two other special powerups. The yellow bolt-like icon gives you an automatic boost. It activates no matter what and stays active until you crash your car. While the game actively encourages you to hit that boost at all costs, it isn’t always the wisest thing to pick up. Sometimes, the rout contains a tight corner that can only be negotiated without the boost. So, consider strategy on some races even though it is sometimes extremely helpful.

The final pickup is the explosive. This explosive can send your car in the air and take out nearby cars at the same time. Extremely useful for added aftertouch effects – more on that in a bit.

A feature in this event is the crash counter. If you reach a certain number of totalled cars in a crash, you can activate an additional explosive to help you collect powerups or take out more vehicles with the aftertouch effect.

Another race event is the special event. You have a car selected for you and you must run the event to the best of your ability.

The Face off pits you against a single opponent. Beat the opponent in a race to win that opponents car.

Also, there is the eliminator. Eliminator pits you against 5 other opponents. For each lap you complete, an opponent is eliminated. Be the last car standing to win.

Another race type is Road Rage. In this race, the goal is to rack up as many takedowns before either the time expires or your car expires. There is a large number of opponents on the track at any given time, so there rarely is any lack of opportunity to take down an opponent.

Additionally, there is the point to point races. First to reach the finish line wins. Some of these events are referred to as the continental races.

Finally, there is the Grand Prix mode. This mode features 3 or 4 circuit races. Place as high as possible to earn the most points possible. The player with the most points at the end of the race series wins.

The cars you get to drive are placed in special classes. These classes include the compact, muscle, and super cars. Each class has a small list of cars available. almost every car is locked, but you can get special cars like dominators, prototype, DX, and tuned. While this may sound exciting, very little separates the cars within their respective classes. Some have a little more speed while others have a little bit less weight on them.

There is also a separate non-classed set of cars. A large portion of these cars are won via the crash courses. You don’t really race these vehicles, but the cars you earn can add a lot to the variety of the game. This includes buses, fire trucks, semi-trucks, and even one car found in the previous Burnout game.

Each race features a set number of medals to go for. These include Bronze, Silver, and Gold. Most of these simply reflect placement, but for other races, you need to beat a race within a certain amount of time or earn a certain amount of crash dollars to earn it. Win golds to unlock the most number of races and cars.

Additionally, there are separate special prizes you can earn. Beat certain races to earn postcards. You can also win headlines by making a particularly spectacular crash. Trophies are awarded for completion of race series. Finally, photographs are earned when you take down an opponent in a designated takedown location.

As for the races themselves, minus the crash events which features its own set of rules, a lot is the same while other aspects are novel and new.

A returning feature is the boost meter. Earn boost by partaking in risky behaviour in the races. This includes driving into oncoming traffic, near misses, drifting, perfect laps, leading laps, and airtime. Of course, as the name suggests, there is also some interesting ways you can do to earn boost over and above this. That, of course, is taking down opponents.

If you crash an opponent into a wall and take them down, you’ll not only earn a full tank of boost, but also a multiplier bonus. You can earn all the way up to 4x for boost. Not only is the capacity for your burnout meter four times higher, but any boost you earn is also multiplied by 4x. So, taking down opponents can be huge in getting a leg up on the competition.

Taking down opponents can get rather creative after a while. Over and above the signature photo takedowns are regular takedowns. This includes wall slams, psych-outs, car takedowns, van takedowns, bus takedowns, and even tram takedowns. Suffice to say, there is very rarely a dull moment with so many ways of taking down opponents.

Of course, you can earn boost simply by combating opponents without taking them down. This includes rubbing, grinding, shunt hits and boost slams. All of this can add to your boost meter.

Naturally, if there is a way to earn boost, there is also ways you can be penalized. If you get taken down, you’ll lose a multiplier. Additionally, taking hits will also reduce your boost meter as well.

Traffic, of course, makes a re-appearance in this game. As much as you can earn boost by near misses, there is always a risk. This includes accidentally slamming into them. Opponents can very easily slam you into this traffic as well. So, beware of your positioning as well as the possibility of cars changing lanes. Blind hills and corners can also be painfully annoying as well.

In addition to this is the new after touch feature. If you crash your car, it doesn’t mean the end of your run before the respawn. As you fly through the air or skid to a stop, you can actually steer your wreck for a bit. While this sounds odd at first, you can actually steer your car into opponents and earn aftertouch crashes. Of course, this feature is absolutely critical to your success in Crash junctions where any explosion or air time can allow you some freedom to collect more bonuses or block another lane to keep racking up more cash. An ultimately very useful feature.

In all, there is 173 races. Win all gold medals to unlock the final 173rd race. While it sounds like an endlessly long game, one thing to keep in mind is the fact that a number of these are just Crash races which can be won in seconds if you happen to get very good.

Generally speaking, I found myself to be quite impressed with this game. While I am already familiar with the series, this game does add a lot. One way I have always described this series is as a combination of Midtown Madness 2 and Rush 2 – Extreme Racing USA. This game retains this hybrid style, however, there are other games that have their features incorporated into this game.

Some race types actually resemble some of the races found in Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit 2. There is also the car type race limitations and trophy system found in Gran Turismo 3: A-Spec. Also, there is the race combat system that could very easily have been inspired by Destruction Derby Raw. What is impressive is the fact that a vast majority of these games wound up scoring very well, so it is interesting seeing so many different features thrown into one game. Some people think that it doesn’t mix very well, but I thought it mixed well together personally.

While I don’t really see anything overly novel in this game, what is novel is how all these different features got blended down into this game. For me, this is very well done because it is a lot of ideas getting smashed into a single game.

My only real complaints wind up being fairly minor. My biggest complaint is the fact that a chunk of your racing is largely luck dependent. Sometimes, you just need to guess which lane you need to be in and go for it. Sometimes you get lucky, sometimes you don’t. This is an improvement over the previous game because there are fewer areas where traffic travels perpendicular to you. It isn’t eliminated completely, but it is good to see it at a reduced presence.

Another complaint is that opponents get an advantage of an elastic band effect. While it is actually possible, you’d be had pressed to get a lead of more than 4 seconds. At the same time, it is possible to have opponents get a huge lead on you. So, the elastic effect only applies when you are in the lead. Otherwise, if you see an opponent fly out in front of you and disappear, there is always the risk that you’ll never catch up because of that massive lead.

A final complaint is that gameplay can be a bit repetitive at times. The good news is that Crash doesn’t get all that old necessarily, but I did find myself pushing through a bunch of these races after a while.

Generally speaking, gameplay is very solid. It has a lot of great ideas borrowed and inspired from other games. These ideas get mixed down into a very solid package. It’s by no means the perfect game as there is some sense of repetition, so few differences between cars, and the fact that a chunk of your gameplay depends on luck. While minor complaints in this case, they are worth mentioning.

Graphically, this game is impressive. For one, there is a huge number of environments you can race in. Not only are there a large number of environments, but they are all so very nicely decorated as well. The effects are pretty solid, but the most impressive thing about this game is damage, breakables, and other flying objects. In addition to this is the overall effect of speed. It sort of offers the same effect that Sonic the Hedgehog had just a few console generations earlier. So, definitely an impressive effort in my books here.

Impressively, audio is where this game also shines. Some people hated the DJ. I would say he does interrupt the music a tad too much, but otherwise, I didn’t mind him. The various traffic soundss and other effects work quite well. Even while attempting AfterTouch, there is some solid sound warping going on. What also makes this game work is the solid soundtrack. A lot of the music revolves around punk rock which was big back then. Highlights include Ash – Orpheus, Sugarcult – Memory, The FUps – Lazy Generation, and My Chemical Romance – I’m Not Okay (I Promise). Other tracks work quite well too.

Overall, this is definitely an improvement over the previous games. In fact, I would call this the best game in the series I’ve played to date. It’s got some solid ideas for races and greatly expands on the existing formula. While nothing overly innovative is found here, the mix of ideas blends very nicely. The diversity of the cars might be a bit lacking, some parts can be a bit on the repetitive side, and chunks of the game can depend on luck, but this doesn’t take away too severely from the overall game. Graphics are impressive and the audio is also spot on. So, a great game well worth playing in my books.

Furthest point in game: earned 150 gold medals.

General gameplay: 21/25
Replay value: 8/10
Graphics: 9/10
Audio: 5/5

Overall rating: 86%

Drew Wilson on Twitter: @icecube85 and Facebook.

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