Gamescom 2011: Burnout CRASH! Hands-On Preview – Boom! Shake the Room!
Written Monday, September 05, 2011 By Richard WalkerView author's profile
For our money, the old crash junctions were one of the best bits in the traditional Burnout titles, and by traditional we mean pre-Burnout Paradise, before the franchise went all open world on our asses. Occasionally popping up between races and takedown events, the humble crash junction asked that you simply drive head-on into traffic and then blow up your car, steering the floating wreckage into whatever you can to accumulate as much collateral damage as humanly possible.
It offered simple pleasures and a compulsive score attack challenge that proved to be a welcome distraction from Burnout's main draw of racing and smashing rival cars into walls. So, it's with that seemingly in mind that for Criterion's latest project, following Burnout Paradise and the best Need for Speed in years, Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit, it's chosen to tackle the Crash Mode for a standalone game that's all about wreaking havoc and racking up the highest scores.
Burnout CRASH is a pure arcade experience then, concerned only with bringing back Burnout's crash junctions, albeit with a new top down viewpoint that looks perfectly at home on the Xbox Live Arcade. As ever, you start at the end of a road and drive into a crossroads in which traffic is approaching from every direction. The idea, as ever, is to make your first crash as spectacular as possible, and set up the middle of the junction for a pile-up. As the cars and trucks screech into one another, your bright orange Crashbreaker bar then fills up until you're ready to unleash an explosion and steer your car's flaming carcass into more oncoming traffic.
There's more to it than just crashing haphazardly though, as there's an array of bonuses waiting for you, should you know where to look. On the junction we go hands-on with for instance, there's a gold car parked up to smash into for more points, a gaping hole to slam dunk crashed vehicles into and the odd vehicle that'll come along following a prompt emblazoned across the screen. So, you might have a taxi or a pizza delivery truck enter the junction that grants a score boost if you hit it, or a truck carrying a missile. Smash into the missile carrier, and the guided warhead will go flying off, causing massive destruction to buildings and vehicles in the area. That's one you don't want to miss.
Should you let five cars leave the screen however, the crash junction will end and you'll be greeted with the 'Crash Over' screen, after which you get a breakdown of your crashes and scoring, and your final score as a (hopefully) massive dollar value that you can then proudly post to the game's leaderboards AKA the 'Crashwall'. As with every EA racing game these days, there's also Autolog support for Burnout CRASH, so you can gloat if you beat a friend's score, challenge your friends and beat anyone who's overtaken one of your high scores, as per Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit or Shift 2: Unleashed.
There's a total of 18 crash junctions to play through in Burnout CRASH too, which sounds like a small number, but given the replay value inherent in each one, it's actually a pretty decent selection, especially when you take the three different modes on offer into account. While the top down perspective looks and initially feels like a departure from the original Crash Mode in previous Burnouts, the spirit of it is clearly in evidence, as you watch the cash counter accumulate and go through the roof when you hit that oh-so gratifying crashing sweet spot. For that reason alone, Burnout CRASH should undoubtedly be worth the asking price when it launches later this month.
For the XBLA version, there's also Kinect functionality to take into account, which translates into an entirely separate party mode for two teams of up to 14 players, with up to 7 per team. You spin a wheel before beginning, wherein the game's parameters are randomly decided. So, to activate your Crashbreaker, you might have to raise both arms or jump and so on. Once you're into the game, you use your arms to steer your car into the junction, then perform whatever action the game decides to activate the Crashbreaker. An on-screen arrow indicates which direction your car will head in, and wherever you're standing on the floor in front of the sensor is also relative to where your car will end up. It's well-designed and intuitive, and should prove to be an enjoyable party game for you and some like-minded friends. It's a nice little bonus for Kinect-owning Xbox 360 gamers, if nothing else.
Burnout CRASH! will be exploding onto the Xbox Live Arcade on September 21st for 800 Microsoft Points. Here's some gameplay footage of us playing the game using Kinect to rack up a high score at Gamescom.