EA’s Burnout 3 has pretty much set the bar for online action racing. Its combination of insanely high-speed racing and car crunching made for outrageous amounts of fun that’s going to be tough for new entries in the genre to beat. But this review isn’t about Burnout 3, it’s about Eidos’ Crash ‘n’ Burn, a game which tries to emulate the high-speed car combat of Burnout 3, but unfortunately comes off as a cheap imitation. That’s not to say it’s a bad game, it’s actually fairly enjoyable, especially for $20 U.S. The problem is, Burnout 3 has raised the standard to such a level that even for a discount price, Crash ‘n’ Burn just can’t hope to compete.
If you were ever a fan of the San Francisco Rush series of arcade racers, you’re going to feel right at home in Crash ‘n’ Burn. This game, on many levels, feels like the venerable Rush series, with high speed races through small tracks in major cities while bumping off the competition. Unlike Rush, however, which would have you just bumping around your opponents, Crash ‘n’ Burn has you obliterating the opposition through destruction derby style mayhem. However, unlike a certain other car-crashing racer, you have to consider the consequences of your actions, as doing too much damage to your car means the end of its racing career.
(Note – screenshots have been enlarged from originals, and thus are not as smooth as they are in actual gameplay)
The cars in Crash ‘n’ Burn are pretty bland, and the game starts you with generic econo-box garbage (a compact car and a pickup) that are unresponsive and unenjoyable to race. After a few races, however, you can buy performance and visual upgrades which make these cars actually worth taking on the track. It’s no Burnout 3 though, which rewarded racing with a flood of hot new cars, instead, it’s a long slow crawl through some crud machines until you get to something worth racing. The tracks, much like the cars, are simplistic and lack any real cool factor, but as you play through the races, you’ll unlock more tracks in sexier worldwide locales.
This is a game that looks and sounds slightly better than you’d expect from a budget title. The music and vehicle sounds are good, while the visuals are somewhat “candied”. Cars are overly shiny to the point of looking like toys, and the colors come off like something you’d see wrapped in a Jolly Rancher label. Not ugly, but certainly not all that realistic; and the damage effect visuals do spike up the vehicle models. Flames on the track are a visual treat, though they look like a very oddly applied texture on vehicles themselves.
If you’re looking for some online destruction, Crash ‘n’ Burn offers full Xbox Live support for racing and wreckage. On Xbox Live, the game supports up to 16 players with relatively smooth gameplay. Any slots not taken up by human racers are filled by fairly respectable AI racers, which ensures a full track for your crashing pleasure. There are several game modes to help keep things fresh and interesting.
Crash ‘n’ Burn manages to make itself worth the $20 price tag by offering up an average level of everything — from gameplay to graphics. It doesn’t do anything exceptionally well, but it’s a pleasant diversion for the price.
- Gameplay: 6.5
- Simplistic racing, but enjoyable for $20
- Graphics: 7.5
- Cars and tracks look slightly better than average
- Sound: 6.5
- Nothing outstanding
- Replay: 7.5
- Online options and customizable cars keep you playing
- Overall: 7
- For the price, it’s a notch above average