The Burnout franchise has been one of my favorites since 2002, back when Acclaim and Criterion first introduced us to a new way of racing (and crashing); one that would spawn one of the best racing franchises in gaming history. It’s been way too long since we’ve had a new Burnout game on any system' although the recently released Ridge Racer Unbounded comes awfully close to capture the Burnout magic.
When Burnout Crash! released on the Xbox Live Arcade last year I was mildly disappointed that the game was merely a top-down intersection smash-up arcade game. In fact , my quote in that review was; “Burnout Crash look like something designed for the iPad – and honestly, I hope it comes to the iPad because it would be SO much fun and perfectly suited for that device…”. Well guess what people? We’re playing it on the iPad as Burnout Crash! Has just released for iOS today as a Universal app, which means if your fingers are tiny enough you can even play on your iPhone or 3rd or 4th generation iPod Touch.
Not much has changed from the console version – in fact, nothing at all from what I can tell. This is a 100% content accurate port with a few tweaks to allow for touch control versus the analog sticks and buttons of the normal gamepad, and surprisingly enough, the touch, tap, and flick controls works splendidly. You basically touch and hold your finger down ahead of your car to steer it into the intersection on each level, and once the chain reaction of carnage begins, you simply tap to explode and flick to fling your car toward the next target.
For those who never played the 360 version, remember back to the crash mode from the 3D games where you drove at high speeds into an intersection or some other grouping of cars and then tried to chain together the most elaborate and damaging (in dollars) sequence of chain reaction events as possible. Well that concept is back in Burnout Crash but with a few changes.
The biggest change is the camera that takes you out of the car and puts you high above the carnage with a birds-eye view that makes you feel like you are playing with Matchbox/Hot Wheels miniatures. You drive your car a few hundred yards into an intersection and then try to create as much devastation as possible in the time allotted by your chosen game mode. Road Trip, Rush Hour, and Pile-Up will test your crash skills by either giving you a fixed amount of time, a fixed amount of cars, or in the case of Road Trip, have you crash into cars before five of them can escape off the screen.
There are 54 levels across six themed areas with dangerous intersections in each, and each area can be played in all three game modes. You’ll earn stars based on a variety of parameters ranging from dollars of damage to very specific goals like taking out 3 sports cars, smashing the gold car, or destroying a bowling alley or airport terminal – yes you get to destroy buildings in Burnout Crash! As you earn stars you will gain access to new stages on the highway map and faster, more destructive vehicles to drive and wreck.
Vehicles play an important part in the game, especially when it comes to each specific game mode. You can choose something slow and powerful for more damage or a faster, lighter car that has more control in the post-wreck aftertouch mode. Regardless of car choice, the goal is always the same – create as much damage as possible by keeping the chain of explosive events going as long as you can. As damage racks up, your crash meter will fill until you can detonate your car and start the process all over again. There is almost a puzzle-like feel to the game, as you try to figure out where to send your car next to keep the chain alive as well as include any special targets required for bonus stars.
An overall destruction meter will also fill up until tier events take place. These vary based on the level but can include something like a gas truck, a bulldozer, or a military mobile rocket launcher driving into the area or maybe a money truck you can smash to collect extra bags of cash or a prize-wheel pizza truck, and if you can keep the chain going until the end you can trigger a super event like a tidal wave, tornado, a 747 landing on the freeway, or even a UFO seeking some revenge for past alien abductions. These level-ending events are spectacular and earn you loads of bonus cash if you can get that far.
One of the things I loved about the crash mode in past console games was the multiplayer where everyone would simultaneously drive into their own intersection and then you sat back and watched the scores slowly rise to see who would win the round, and then you could watch a replay of the high scoring wreck. Sadly, there is no live multiplayer in Burnout Crash! It is all scores and leaderboards and the only hint at interactivity is the inclusion of Need for Speed’s Autolog that lets you make challenges and recommendations for those on your friends list.
And there is no real local multiplayer either other than taking turns. There is a Party mode that uses the Kinect and has you trying to physically match the on-screen pose to trigger the Burnout Crash looks good for what it is. We aren’t seeing any detailed car models or exploding bits of car parts as we have in the previous games. The levels are very detailed and there is a nice variety of traffic and surround architecture, most all of which can and will get destroyed over time. Everything is very cartoonish and family-friendly. Even the HUD manages to be a bit charming with all the colors and icons.
The audio from the console version has been ported over to the iOS which can get annoying at times, especially in a game where levels are designed to be played over and over again in rapid succession. Each themed area has an underlying radio announcer, like a spunky DJ, a timid air traffic controller, or even a gruff alien who has hijacked the airwaves. Their comments are triggered in the same order at the same time every time you play the level, and it can and will get annoying pretty fast. Also annoying is the game announcer who will constantly make exclamations based on your performance. I do love the music selection and variety of tracks – everything from the "Dr. Beat" ambulance theme song to “It’s Raining Men” during the thunderstorm super event.
Despite having no real online or real-time multiplayer, Burnout Crash is totally addicting and lends itself perfectly to that “just one more time” mentality that is perfect for mobile gaming. When a level last less than a minute it’s pretty hard to stop playing. You can make your way through all the chapters and unlock all the vehicles in less than 8 hours, but you will be playing this game for months to come trying to get all the stars and completing all the specific goals required to earn them. And for only $5, this is a far better value than the XBLA version. Check it out.