When you start up a new racing game, what's the first thing to do? If the answer is crash the cars, then Burnout is the only game you need. With gameplay that encourages dangerous driving, Takedown, the third and best in the series, is the best action racer on any console. It's packed with high-tension contests and spectacular crashes. Michael Bay should be jealous. You'll be addicted.
A casual glance might not reveal much that stands out from other arcade driving titles. There are basic races, a grand prix and a garage full of cars to unlock. The key to most races is boost -- a supply of nitro that will never run out so long as you drive aggressively.
That means racing into oncoming traffic, blazing by motorists with an inch of clearance, drifting and catching air. All are obviously dangerous actions, and a wrong move will send your roadster head on into a bus, at which point the most impressive crash animations in gaming spool out. Shiny bits of chrome go everywhere in a slow motion orgy of destruction.
The Aftertouch system even offers limited control over your wrecked hulk as it slides along. Why? To slam it into other cars, of course! Events like Eliminator and Road Rage want you to take down as many rival drivers as possible. Why run them off the road when you can aftertouch a whole series of takedowns?
Crash Mode is the game's signature offering -- a setup in which you simply drive as fast as possible into an intersection, where disaster ensues. Accountants love this part, too, because in the aftermath little dollar values are racked up above each wreck. It's enough to bring a tear to the eye, just before you do it again.
If only the game could be perfect -- alas, there are load times. Lots of them. Crash Mode can seem like Load Mode, since the game takes time to reset everything. It's worth it without a doubt, but you'll wish it was more efficient at setting up each new event.
Patience pays off. The graphics are stupendous. You'll perhaps see more beautiful vistas in Need For Speed or Gran Turismo, but when it comes to speed nothing comes close. The amount of detail Burnout is able to crank out is stunning. No matter how fast you're going -- and the blurred, shaky screen effects make it seem very fast indeed -- the game doesn't hitch. And when the cars explode, the aftermath will leave some players weak.
With play that extends online, Takedown is the closest thing we've seen to a perfect crash simulator. The physics and controls are so tight and responsive that it's also as close as we're likely to get to an unbeatable arcade racer, period. We'll be playing this one into the next decade.