I love crash mode in Burnout games. First introduced in Burnout 3: Takedown, this stellar extra mode sees you trying to cause as much carnage as possible within a set time limit, and was used to great effect in the most recent Burnout game, the sublime open world Burnout Paradise, which sucked many an hour from my life.
That mode is the focal point of this new iPhone release, so that means no racing whatsoever. That is a good and a bad thing, the bad of which was really highlighted by the decision to release the game on Xbox Live and PSN, where the bite sized gameplay didn’t really fit in well, but surely here on iPhone, the home of tiny gaming sessions, the game should flourish?
Viewed from a top down perspective, you get to drive your chosen vehicle for a couple of seconds by tracing its route with your finger, until you get to the stages intersection, at which point the real game begins. You must try to cause as much damage and chaos as possible in the time limit, starting from your initial crashing position. Once you have stopped moving, you can hop your car a little bit, and even make it explode again each time you cause a certain amount of damage.
Cars and trucks come flying in at full pelt, seemingly oblivious to the pile up in front of them, and if you play it right, you can set up a chain reaction that will not only take out vehicles, but also buildings and just about anything onscreen at all.
It actually plays more like a pinball game than a car game, a feeling that is increased by the over the top upgrades and bonuses, such as UFOs and tornadoes, that can be conjured. Another thing that adds to the ‘carnival’ atmosphere is the eye wateringly bad voice over for the game, something I had hoped would be dropped for this version. At least you can turn it off.
There are 18 intersections to play through, with 54 challenges, 3 minor mode variations and a few different locations. The absolute best thing about the game is the Autolog mode, which lets you play a turn based game against a friend, which is really good fun.
My problem with the game stems from the genuine feel of disconnection from the action happening before you. Crash mode was always great because you felt like you were ‘in there’, and part of the chaos, but the top down viewpoint and the limited gameplay makes you feel like you are just setting a course of events in action, and just get the occasional nudge to help it all along. I just felt disinterested in it all.
It is only designed to be a time waster, but even with a time waster you need to feel some level of involvement, which I never really had during my playthrough of all the intersections and challenges.
The graphics are fairly decent, with some impressive explosions, and performance wise, there is nothing to complain about here. The overall level of presentation is excellent, and carries on the fine Criterion tradition of quality production.
I really wanted to love Burnout Crash, but it really does not have the heart and soul of a true Burnout ‘crash’ mode at all, and lacks substance and wit. The god awful voice overs don’t help, but the game is saved by the fun Autolog multi-player, and stops the score from nose diving. The game is fun, but also forgettable and insubstantial, and if you are looking for Burnout style action on iPhone, then I would point you towards Smash Cops.