Burnout 3

Check out this latest trailer and see what the fuss is all about:

We'd bet our monthly wage packet that you've played one of the first two Burnout games. Then we'd bet Adam's wages for an entire year that you absolutely loved them, perhaps even more than any other racing game, ever. And who wouldn't? Driving at insanely fast speeds down the wrong side of six lane highways, causing bigger pile-ups than you ever see on Police, Camera, Action, super-slick graphics, loads of different game modes, dozens of different motors; just a few of the features that had us drooling.

So for the second sequel they've just churned out a few new courses and cars, right? Wrong. Developers Criterion have worked hard to ensure there are more than enough reasons to entice us back for a third burn and after playing the game for several hours at EA's palatial head office in Surrey, we've fallen in love with Burnout all over again. Where to start? Well, let's start with the game's new philosophy: Road Rage. Sure, Burnout has always been about breaking every traffic law imaginable but now they've added a new dimension - fighting with your rivals.

Whether it's racing against CPU opponents or scrapping it out with your mates in multi-player or online, you're going to have to use dirty tactics to win. This new feature centres around Takedowns. A Takedown basically involves driving so that you ram an opponent into oncoming traffic, or into a tree, or over a cliff, or into another opponent. When you pull one off you'll earn Boost (like nitros, if you don't know) and you will also be treated to an immensely satisfying cut-scene that shows off the devastation you've caused.

While Takedowns are probably going to have the AA and the RAC running to the tabloids in horror, we think it's a fantastic addition. But it's not quite as pleasing as the revamped Crash mode which involves smashing into traffic at a busy junction to cause as much damage as possible. There were only 15 'crash junctions' in Burnout 2, this time there are 100! And not only have Criterion more than tripled the number of opportunities for wanton automotive destruction, they've made it far more dramatic too.

Now you'll see sparks flying as metal meets metal. Vehicles explode and crumple in spectacular fashion and your car is even armed with a bomb, which will cause yet more carnage if detonated with precision timing. There are also pick-ups to run through, including score-multipliers, another bomb, extra Boost and a 'Heartbreaker' token that'll halve your overall score. Oh, and you can now play this head-to-head and cooperatively, both offline and online.

Ah yes, the online modes. Basically every game mode that's in the offline game is available online. Up to six can compete over the network in straight races, Eliminator races (where the last racer at the end of each lap is knocked out) and the all-new Road Rage mode, where you try to smash each other into scrap metal over the course of the race. We had a spin with the six-player straight race mode and it was highly entertaining and smooth, even if the developers did keep thrashing us.

cars you'll be racing in are also fancier and faster. Right from the off you'll be haring around in sporty numbers rather than domestic 'shopping trolleys' and although we've yet to see the vehicles you'll unlock towards the end, we'd wager there will be some seriously speedy supercars in there. There are 70 vehicles in total and you'll find some novelty rides like fire engines and 'A-Team' vans as well as your sports cars. So loads more vehicles and Criterion reckon that, overall, the game is some two thirds larger than Point of Impact. Cripes!

We've been blown away with just how good this is - bigger, better, faster, flashier, smashier and crashier. Drive safely now, won't you.

Burnout 3 is scheduled to appear on PS2 and Xbox in September