Burnout Crash is a recently released XBLA (Xbox Live Arcade) title and if you’ve seen some of the reviews, it really seems like reviewers don’t understand the game. It may just be me, but I look for a purpose of the game, and hopefully answer the question of why are particular games created.

A brief summary of the game:

Criterion Games brings back the much-loved Crash Mode in the latest instalment of the multi award-winning Burnout franchise! Party with your friends in the all new Kinect Rush Hour Party for up to 14 players. Go on the wildest Road Trip of your life; causing huge pile-ups, blowing up buildings and unleashing disastrous Super Features! Play 3 all new game modes, across 6 themed areas: – Stop traffic escaping and trigger crazy special features in Road Trip! – Go wild against the clock in Rush Hour! – Practise your precision crashing skills in Pile-Up! Use autolog to compete with your friends high scores and Challenge your friends to one-on-one battles with all new Autolog Challenges.

What it really is

When I first played it, I asked the same question most people are asking, what is this game? I’m not really a fan of Burnout to be honest, knew nothing about the previous Burnout Crash mode and I proceeded to turn it off. When I decided I wanted to review it, I then spent some time with it. It’s not a typical Burnout game nor from what I have read is anything like the Burnout Crash mode in the prior title.

Hopefully this isn't showing my age!

What it is, is a puzzle/strategy game that is very difficult to do very well in. If you remember the actual physical game called Rush Hour, where the objective was to set up a puzzle with a red car in the middle of a bunch of different vehicles and try to free the red car in a minimum amount of moves, I would say this game is kind of like that, only opposite with a bunch of bonus/fun things. If you want a challenging game while trying to figure things out, along with some challenging achievements, this is the game for you.

Yup this is what it looks like

The Gameplay

First, I have to mention, for an arcade title, this game has a lot to offer. To knock your socks off for starters, it comes with 54 levels, you won’t be completing this in one sitting, I guarantee it. For the most part, they are broken up into 6 different “themes” we’ll call them. Examples are a small windy town, an airport, a beach, etc. They are nice and colorful. Each themed area has 3 different modes. The controls are fairly simple, you first start by steering (acceleration is automatic), then you have to crash into something to begin, missing the initial crash makes you restart in any of the game modes. You have an crashbreak meter that fills up over time, faster with destruction. Once your meter is filled you can explode. After exploding, you float down and can manuever but only when you are floating. This is called the After touch.

The first mode is Road Trip. This is your strategy/puzzle version of the game. Your minimum objective is just to get 1 star to unlock the other levels. This is usually easiest completed by obtaining a score of $20,000,000 in damage. Once you obtain 1 star, you unlock the next road trip. This is, however, the easy way to proceed through the game, yet is very boring, which if you attempt mass destruction you will lose quickly so I can understand why people don’t like it. On each level, you can obtain 5 stars maximum. This is where the challenge sets in. I tried my hardest to get 5 stars and all I could come up with is 4. It really is a challenging title. You do need stars as each area has 3 sub-areas. In between the main 6 areas are toll booths, you cannot proceed to the next area if you do not have enough stars. Stars also help you unlock vehicles. The vehicles have different power and after touch ratings. I believe there were 6-8 unlockable vehicles but I didn’t count them.

Road Trip mode, X's are not a good thing!

In addition to trying to obtain stars, your real objectives are to block traffic in an intersection, destroy what you can, try to last all the way through and not let any vehicles escape. Sound difficult? It is. To even add some more frustration while trying to set up a road block so to speak, after you get a few cars to pile up, they can only handle so many crashes from other vehicles and then ignite. Once they ignite, they explode and can ignite other vehicles completely ruining your roadblock that you created. Speaking of vehicles escaping, you can only let 5 escape. Each escaped vehicle adds an X to your game. Once 5 have escaped, the level ends. You can then retry or continue. Criterion did at least give you a chance as when an ambulance comes through, you have to clear a path for it. If it makes it through, one of your X’s are removed, however it isn’t easy either as you have to determine if that X is worth blowing up your roadblock that you created.

In this mode there are also bonuses. You have a crash meter in the top left corner with an icon. When you get enough crashes, then the bonus appears. There is quite a wide variety bonuses ranging from fuel trucks, good cops, bad cops, pits, meteor strikes, thunderstorms, ice storms, etc. There is a lot and I know I haven’t experienced them all yet. The game does show you a total number of vehicles you have to maintain in order to reach the Super Event. Super Events end the level with mass destruction, however they have power levels based on the number of X’s you obtained. Have 4 X’s and you will barely do any damage. Super Events range from tornado’s, airplane crashes, tsunami’s, etc.

The Tornado Super Event!

On a fun note, when you get one of the bonuses, usually there is some type of music bit that plays. Examples are bad cops play the Bad Boys theme song, the snow storm triggers Ice Ice Baby, the thunderstorm starts with It’s Raining Men and a bulldozer plays some Salt-n-Pepa’s Push It. That’s pretty much it for Road Trip mode, it is difficult so if you are looking for an easy game, this probably wouldn’t be your choice. I don’t let difficult games change my opinion though. It does have a fun factor even though its challenging. Thankfully this isn’t the only mode and there is a Rush Hour mode.

Rush Hour mode is just pure destruction, you have 90 seconds to completely destroy what you can. The whole environment is destructible except for the ground. In this mode though, there are some special objectives such as blowing up a gold car, or blowing up the pizza delivery truck. Blowing up the pizza truck does trigger a Pizza Wheel which you spin for something good or something bad. When you have 10 seconds left, the time remaining is shown above your vehicle. You want to position yourself to cause the most destruction (typically in the middle of a huge pile up) as you set off a bomb when the timer ends. This causes a chain reaction with vehicles sliding into everything and getting you multiplier bonuses.

Rush hour mode, always watch the clock!

The last mode, Pile Up, is another strategic mode. You have a set number of vehicles, your objective is to get them all to pile up, hence the mode name. You can only let 5 escape again, however you don’t have X’s in this one, you have something called “Inferno Mode”. It starts out with a multiplier of x5, letting a vehicle escape lowers this multiplier. At the end of the vehicle count, you then enter “Inferno Mode”. Depending on how many vehicles escaped determines how long you stay in Inferno mode, based on seconds. For example, I had x3 one time, which only gave me 3 seconds in Inferno mode. If a fire goes out, then your timer starts and you have to ignite something quick, however if your explosion meter is not full, you are pretty much done. Basically your goal is to create a chain reaction of fires by igniting everything. I found the easiest way to do this is to go into to the middle of pile up and let it go, the cars will start flying towards building and light those on fire and get you more points.

The Kinect Controls

Thankfully this is a hybrid game. The Kinect addition is welcomed, however it’s not preferred. There’s only 3 Kinect actions. The first is steering, put your hands in the 10 and 2 positions to steer. It works for the most part. The second action is placement. There is an arrow over your vehicle showing you the direction that After touch is going to push you. You can change this by moving around your playspace, for example to move down, you would step backward. It does get kind of awkward in heated moments and I ended up confusing myself more than once as I was trying to turn my body instead of moving. The third action is jumping to explode your vehicle and then moving while you are floating. This is where I had the most issues as for whatever reason, I kept wanting to turn my body to change the direction, not relocate my physical position.

I believe this is the second title EA (not EA Sports) has published with Harry Potter being the first. I don’t know if they just feel like they have to contribute something to Kinect here and there and instruct the developer to add Kinect functionality, but they need to rethink their strategy if that’s the case. This title would have been fine without Kinect and it doesn’t enhance the gameplay at all, I feel it somewhat makes it worse. The controller provides more accuracy and is realistically the logical choice. Also if you happen to check out the demo on the Kinect portion, you actually have to go all the way through the game with a controller until you get to the level start screen, then you can press X to use Kinect, however this is a tedious task which is why I am thinking EA threw this in with no real development on it.

It does use autolog for multiplayer, but none of my friends have it so I couldn’t test it out. I also did not even bother trying the Kinect multiplayer or how you even go into it. There’s not really a normal 1-player/multiplayer option that most games have.

Conclusion

Overall, if you look at it as a strategy/puzzle title, it works, it’s just challenging. If you like a challenge, you will probably love this game. Although I’m not a huge fan of it, I feel I gave it a fair review and rating and it did NOT give me the feeling that I wasted 800 MS points which is always a good thing. It is something different and new so I do give kudos to the developers still coming up with new ideas, but my opinion is that we are at the point where there’s enough new ideas out there, we just want some current genres/games rehashed to work with Kinect, I don’t think this was EA’s intention (heck there’s no mention of Kinect on the cover), as it was more or less to lure us Kinect owners into something we probably wouldn’t have bothered with if there wasn’t Kinect functionality.


This review is based on a retail copy of the Xbox 360 version of Burnout Crash!
Scoring policy: What do these game review scores actually mean?