Crash 'N' Burn review

Xbox World discovers Eidos' latest road rasher feels a touch burnt out

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It's a car game where you GET nitros for crashing, smashing up cars until they break, and have to win races. If we're all being honest, now isn't the time to launch an arcade racer after the phenomenal success that is Burnout 3.

But there is a rub. The ethos behind Crash 'N' Burn is that you can earn points as you race to unlock upgrades and modifiers for your chosen car, one of a disappointingly few four basic models. Points can be earned both on and off line and there are thousands of combinations to make your car unique. In order for your car to look unique of course, you'll have to cover it with all sorts of garish crap - should you leave it untreated or even mildly tasteful your ride will have a touch of the Tonka toy about it. Which is certainly strange as Crash 'N' Burn features some of the finest fire effects we've ever seen.

In fact, the finest feature about Crash 'N' Burn is the damage permanence. As cars get wrecked, their remaining bits stay on the track for the duration of the race. Oil slicks are left, huge firewalls go up and all the carnage creates new obstacles you'll have to avoid, or slam other cars into. Unfortunately, earning nitros by taking out other cars seems arbitrary and the best way to win races in single player is simply to get out in front early, from where you won't be challenged. Unless of course you're playing one of the Kamikaze circuits where the field of sixteen is split into two packs racing in opposite directions. This makes it much more likely that you'll be taken out entirely unjustly, thus losing the race.

Clearly, the legacy of Climax's involvement with the excellent Moto GP is the driving force behind this title - so you'd expect the single player game to suffer. And it does. The AI never performs as erratically or as ruthlessly as human opponents, whilst the limited, short and often recycled tracks don't offer enough incentive to keep the pedal on the metal. Online it's great- a superficial, no-brainer racer for an amazing 16 players, where gruesome vendettas are made and forgotten in five minute races. Offline it's about as exciting as a French people carrier.

Crash 'N' Burn is released for Xbox and PS2 on 26 November

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