Since the dawn of the gaming industry, two words that have been synonymous with video games are high score and multiplier. Many games have captured hours upon hours of our interactive careers with the promise of great unlocks at a certain point plateau or the incentive to do great in order to show off to friends. One of the latest to venture into this type of competitive action is Burnout Crash!, the popular series’ first downloadable outing, developed by Criterion Games themselves. It follows a similar genre staple structure based on high scores, but ventures into a new arena: vehicular intersections.
As one would expect, there really isn’t much story to be found here. Burnout Crash! is all about crashing it up in different areas, ruining the lives of many invisible inhabitants living in various towns across route 77 and its varied landmass. There’s no rhyme or reason as to what has made vehicular carnage an amusing sport, but this type of arcade title doesn’t usually have such descriptors. The gameplay is always the centre piece, with players worrying more about their scores than why they’re performing certain score-awarding actions.
Taking an overhead perspective on things, Burnout Crash! has players charging into an intersection on a dangerous mission. The goal is to always cause the greatest crash strings possible, with multipliers coming in based on chained explosions, toppled buildings and general digital carnage. Inaugural crash attempts begin the chaos by taking out one or more cars, leaving them helplessly scattered inside or around the intersection. Other cars will come through, attempting to weave their way around in order to make it from point A to point B, or complete a regular turn through the crossway.
Causing a string of wrecked and immobilized vehicles is the basis for the game, but there’s more to it than that. In addition to piling the cars up, it’s also important to clear them out through a controlled implosion within your own vehicle. Once a bar fills up, it’s ready to be unleashed against the poor invisible drivers close-by. Using this ability is what creates most of the points-garnering explosion chains mentioned previously. It also is the only way to move around each map in order to get in front of oncoming traffic. Once you crash for the first time, it’s important to make good use of strategy and limited movement in order to stop all oncoming traffic in its tracks.
There are three different game modes to be found, each changing things up just a bit. Each one of the several stops along route 77 features three challenges: one containing the requirements and structure of each mode. The environments they take place in are a bit different, including a beach town, an American college campus and Roswell. Despite their varied looks and location-specific caricatured announcers, all of them play pretty much the same. A couple new options unlock as you progress, but there really isn’t a lot of variety inherent in the gameplay, which can become repetitive after a while.
Five stars are available upon the completion of each challenge, though they won’t unlock for minor fender benders. Fit with a goal or score plateau each, they make you work for your awards. As is the norm, these trophies also happen to be your progression mechanic, meaning that new stops along the highway will only unlock after certain amounts are reached.
Score goals can be quite challenging, unless you string a great run together or are good at these types of games. They account for three out of five stars, while two others come in the form of area-based challenges. Examples include taking out all of the planes around an airport, blowing up five sailboats docked at sea, getting a string of fifteen consecutive crashes or getting to the end of a specific level.
All areas have their own ultimate form of destruction, which happen to come in the form of tornadoes, typhoon waves, crashing airplanes, UFOs and other forms of high-level destruction. Not surprisingly, these mammoths wipe out everything left on the screen. Getting them to unleash their explosive fury isn’t easy though, considering one must make it all the way to the end of each challenge to let the necessary events unfold. Along the way, different power-ups will become available, such as sinkholes, comet strikes, slippery ice, and vision halting fog.
Let’s discuss the game mode options available in Burnout Crash! by starting off with traffic, the more traditional challenge type. Always the first in every location list, it brings in a variation upon baseball’s three strike rule, with five used instead. Drive your way into the intersection and start the crash sequence, then make sure you prohibit any oncoming vehicle from getting past. Doing well unlocks a sequence of different power-ups, aiding in achieving target scores. Do poorly and your attempt will end quickly, once the five strike rule is filled up. Special vehicles such as money trucks, bulldozers and taxis must be destroyed for optimal points. Though, what changes things up a bit is that ambulances will occasionally need through; removing a strike if they make it.
The other two challenges remove the dire strike consequences, instead focusing on letting the player make their best chains with limited resources. Rush hour and its high levels of speeding traffic bring a ninety second time limit and destructible pizza trucks which bring up a spinning power-up wheel. Press the button to spin once and see where it lands, doling out different game changers such as altered oncoming vehicle speeds, slick road conditions, a times three multiplier and the special vehicles. Blowing every pizza truck up is very helpful to your points plateau cause, though it can also take you out of the action.
Rounding out the list is a mode which rewards diligence and destruction with high-level explosive multipliers. Take to the streets and stop every vehicle possible, making sure that none escape the resulting tangled web of destruction. Those who do will drop your bonus down levels from four to one, which is a bad thing. This is the only mode where a limited amount of traffic comes into play, so it’s important to use strategy in thinking of ways to stop every single one until the ticker hits zero. Once it’s all over, the fun begins as every exploded vehicle becomes reason to keep your chaos multiplier going. If it runs out, then that’s the end of your session.
Those latter two modes are more fun than the former, in my opinion. Traffic is challenging and pretty good, but the limited amount of movement given to the player makes it a bit frustrating at times, with lots of retries needed over the course of the campaign. Not having to worry as much about strikes makes Burnout Crash! more enjoyable, as it’s more fun to focus on the crashes rather than having to stop every single little vehicle flying by. Movement does factor in as a bit of an issue in all modes, but it’s much more prevalent in the first one. It becomes a bit more difficult given the fact that it can be easy to lose sight of certain playable vehicles, such as sports cars, which tend to get lost in the crowd.
Control is a bit of an opponent to the overall fun factor, but doesn’t factor in as a game breaking nuisance or anything along those lines. Driving in while destroying every breakable object in your path is a pretty basic affair with multiple paths on offer. Where the issue comes into play is with precision. The vehicles tend to be a tad on the floaty side, meaning that it can be hard to make that perfect swerve around something or into your vehicle of choice. When you miss everything on the play field, a prompt to restart quickly shows itself.
Those who like to continually improve their scores or those of friends, will find reason to assume the driver’s role with this top-down carnage attempt. The addition of Autolog isn’t game changing, but it adds reason to come back, with gamers having the ability to challenge their friends’ scores for ultimate bragging rights. This department works, but it’s disappointing that leaderboard scores are limited to only local perusal. There aren’t any form of global leaderboards on offer, meaning that it’s impossible to test your best against the top players in the world. I’m not sure why this was omitted because it feels like a given with this type of game.
When Burnout Crash! is going well, unleashing all sorts of spectacular explosion chains and environmental effects, it can be quite fun. Seeing these types of things enter the fold kicks in as addictive incentive. That’s where it excels. However, for all the times where addictive fun comes into play, there are frustrating and relatively repetitive sequences where you’re doing the same thing over and over again without much change. It’s an alright game, but one which doesn’t deliver as much as I was hoping in the way of individual, creative and interesting content.
It’s the lack of variety which is the most notable issue with Burnout Crash! There’s simply too much repetition within a limited assortment of basic game modes. The power-ups do add some character and interesting flavour in, but not enough to make this a five-star worthy title. The bones are here for a better game, which could have been better crafted using more interesting gameplay modes and a lengthier campaign lasting more than a few hours. There’s some to like and moments of extremely addicting fun to find, but not enough to really grasp a player for a long period of time. It feels more like the type of game which would flourish on the iPad for a couple dollars, rather than a ten dollar console title.
Visually, Burnout Crash! utilizes a top-down perspective giving an aerial view of the lay of the land. It works well in allowing the player lots of space and real estate to source out oncoming vehicles, with a pretty good amount of time to get there because of the grand scale of view. The world itself takes on a colourful look, with stimulating pastel colours used instead of realistic tones. It looks pretty good, with a style that suits the game pretty well. What’s most important though, is that the entire experience runs well, without any noticeable hiccups or frame rate problems.
For most of your hours spent playing Burnout Crash!, your speakers will pound with the sounds of steel on steel collisions and booming explosions. The invisible announcers are there occasionally, adding in a bit of stereotyped character and comedy. They combine for a decent-sounding title, though nothing of the memorable sort. What is best in terms of audio here is certainly the soundtrack, which is comprised of some popular and cheesy eighties and early nineties licensed titles. A lot of the game’s comical nature comes out with these songs, with the Cops TV show theme being a prevalent one whenever police set-up roadblocks or attempt to arrest you.
When Burnout Crash! was first revealed, I thought it sounded quite fun. Its offbeat character and colourful gameplay looked appealing. Having now played it for hours, I see the game as being a decent title which is too basic and somewhat lacking. There are the bones for a better game here, but they’re not fully realized. What’s present is a game which will appeal to gamers who love to earn high scores, though one which won’t keep most people coming back for hours upon hours of repeated destruction. There’s fun to be found, though it’s fleeting.
This review is based on a copy of the PSN version of the game, which we received for review purposes.