Reinventing a franchise can be tricky business. Sometimes it's better to just reinvent part of a franchise, taking an element that fans enjoyed and twisting it on its ear a bit. "Burnout Crash" accomplishes this by focusing on just one mode from the "Burnout" franchise, Crash mode, and coming at it from a brand new angle. Specifically a top-down one.
"Burnout Crash" takes place across 18 different intersections scattered throughout America. Without your intervention, these intersections would full of peaceful, law-abiding motorists. That really won't do at all.
Although the game features three main modes, the objective is always the same: Create as much chaos as possible. Generally this involves blowing your car up and sending nearby cars into each other to create a massive pile-up, but there are plenty of other ways to make a mess of things.
The Tactics Of Accidents
You might think that causing a large-scale car crash would be mindless, but there's actually a lot of strategy that goes into it. For example: How do I make these two buses crash in such a way that both sides of the street are blocked off from other forms of traffic trying to get by. And, once blocked, what else can I make a mess of on the map for bonus points? "Burnout Crash" utilizes a new camera angle for the franchise, one that is top-down and almost reminicent of classic "GTA" games. This bird's-eye view is a great view of the action and allows you to see the mechanics of a crash way better than in previous games.
A Bright And Sunny Car Crash
Based on a cursory description, you might assume that "Burnout Crash" is not for kids. We're talking about exploding cars and massive accidents, after all. In truth, it's about as family-friendly as "Rampage" or even an episode of "Spongebob Squarepants." The graphics and overall tone of the game is light and comical, even in the face of disaster, with bright colors and over-the-top voice over work with parodies of regional dialects. The game has a ton of detail and is tremendously charming, helped along by a smattering of '80s tunes which play when you score bonus points.
EA has brought over Autolog to "Burnout Crash," which is a system that integrates your friends high scores throughout the game, constantly informing you when you best your neighbor. There's also a system for offering challenges to friends for some asynchronous multiplayer as you battle for a top score in one round.
The Xbox 360 version of "Burnout Crash" supports Kinect. Actually it's the only way to play Party Mode, which lets a small group of players challenge one another to nab the best score across multiple maps. Party Mode is actually a pretty solid idea, but it's a real shame that it requires Kinect to work. Playing "Burnout Crash" on Kinect is not much fun at all. It requires jumping and waving your arms for just about everything when, really, a Party Mode that just had you passing the controller around the room would've been far more enjoyable. At best, Party Mode in "Burnout Crash" is good for tuckering out youngsters. Everyone else will probably play it once and never touch it again.
Fans of Crash Mode were definitely disappointed by its absense in "Burnout Paradise." Those same fans will likely get a lot of enjoyment out of "Burnout Crash," as it captures the spirit of the mode while adding a bunch of new, pinball-esque features. Racing fans be warned, though. This is not a racing game. It is, however, one of the most creative, enjoyable downloadable games I've played this year.