When it was first announced, Burnout CRASH! was dismissed as a cash-in on a very popular video game series. Nothing like the titles before it, nothing to do with racing and what seemed like boringly simple controls portrayed this game as one that'd head straight to the scrapyard. But those first impressions couldn’t have been more wrong.
Burnout CRASH! is packed with content; there are six different areas on offer, each consisting of three levels with three different modes each, and seven different vehicles to select from. It may not seem much, but it all adds up. Of course, there's also Kinect support in the up-to-13-player Kinect Party mode and music tracks such as Crash and Gold which will bring plenty of smiles as you cause crash after crash.
Progression through the main game requires you to play through one of three modes, two of which are unlocked after completing the first: Road Trip. Here you take control of any unlocked vehicle and drive to a busy road linked to many junctions, causing a steady stream of other vehicles to drive through. Your goal is to stop five of them from getting from one junction to the next, generally by creating roadblocks using the cars and buses you've bumped, scratched and essentially smoked into oblivion. For each crash or destroyed building you'll be awarded money, and as we all know racking up as much of this as possible is definitely A Good Thing.
Each level features five tasks, each rewarding you with one star. These stars then open up new areas and contribute to you increase your vehicle portfolio, adding a bit of spice into the game: you'll often need to revisit previous levels with new vehicles to unlock that last, remaining star.
Rush Hour mode takes away the worry of needing to stop every vehicle and instead places a 90-second time limit on you to cause as much mayhem as possible. Vehicles travel a lot faster in this mode and you’ll be required to think fast to block off entrances and exits to get the highest score possible. As well as this, Rush Hour features the infamous Pizza Truck which, once exploded, gives you a spin of the Pizza of Fortune, offering help — such as good cops who block off exits — or hindrances, like the bad cops who try to lock your vehicle for a small amount of time. It keeps the game fresh and unpredictable, and it's likely this is the mode you’ll play the most.
Pile Up is the last of the three modes which the game includes. With a limit amount of traffic you are required to stop as much as possible to keep your Inferno Combo as high as possible. Once the traffic has stopped however, you have a small amount of time to cause as much damage as possible; setting fire to already stopped vehicles or buildings still standing to give your score a final push in the right direction.
On top of you causing as much mayhem as possible however you may stop your brief career as an evil scientist and notice the amount of brilliant humour in this title. One moment you’ll be blasting golden cars and hearing Gold from your television speakers and the next you’ll be smirking as a giant crab-monster walks across the screen; smashing everything in its way. Burnout games may not be famed for their humour, but CRASH! delivers.
As previously mentioned, the XBLA game features an exclusive mode called Kinect Party where you split your gathered friends into two teams and select between three different round-packs lasting 15, 25 or 35 minutes. The game randomly selects the levels, cars and embarrassing Crash Breaker moves — such as laying an egg — then pitches the teams into Rush Hour mode to score the highest amount of points.
While driving the vehicle works a lot better than expected and Kinect picks up the actions performed reliably, it's extremely difficult to move the vehicle after blowing the vehicle up, making it very frustrating and difficult to get any points. If the idea is to get as many players around the TV as possible, the controls need to work for all skill levels, and here they just don't deliver, feeling unresponsive during the all-important post-crash mode.
Like many party games, it's difficult to recommend Burnout CRASH! for those who think it’ll excite everyone every time the game is played; it’s amusing and funny to watch friends do actions to blow up their vehicle and it’s great that the game offers you such large teams to play with too, but playing with a controller is a lot more fun and is where the game really shines. Kinect play feels like an underdeveloped concept rather than a must-have inclusion, and that's regrettable.
High score fanatics will love Burnout CRASH!, as will anyone with friends who also have this game owing to the inclusion of EA's masterful Autolog system. Even if you’re a solo gamer you’ll still enjoy Burnout CRASH! for its play style, humour and ability to throw a rather unique party experience. It misses out on "essential" status due to the slight familiarity in most tracks and disappointing Kinect mode. Keep the controller in your hand and this title deserves to be in your garage of games.