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Preview: Burnout Crash!

8:00 PM on 08.31.2011 // John Speerbrecker

When we first heard about a new Burnout game, we had in our minds a brand new speed and ripped metal jaunt through some serene countryside and traffic-jammed cities. What we got is a game that is trying to capture the essence of the mechanical carnage and place it in a more accessible environment.

We had the opportunity the other day to get a little more hands on time with the party mode of Burnout Crash! and the premise is beginning to make more sense. You can look at this game like the way we play a pinball game. You have a bunch of set pieces and your job is to connect those pieces using combos and multipliers to get the highest score possible.

Burnout Crash! (PlayStation Network, Xbox Live Arcade [Previewed]
Developer: Criterion Games
Publisher: Electronic Arts
To be released: September 20, 2011

This version of Burnout revolves around the crashes in a colorful arcade setting. You take control of your choice of car and take off into the intersection. When you get there you can either crash into a car to get your combo off and running or just smash into a building. There are a few game modes available for you to choose from as well, and yes, they all involve crashing. 

There are three single-player modes in this game and all of them are playable with Kinect. Road Trip is like a survival mode to see how many points you can get until you get a game over. Rush Hour is the time attack mode where you have to crash a certain amount of points within a set time limit. The third mode is Pile-Up which is a puzzle-centric mode. 

We played Road Trip for the majority of the single-player time. It feels like a really finely tuned pinball game like the developers said. As you continue to build up points you will get special features released. In one case, a thunderstorm approached and destroyed the demolished cars on the screen for a greater bonus. When you reach the end of a round one of six disasters will happen on your town to destroy everything. The amount of cars that you kept from escaping the screen will directly influence how powerful the disaster will be.  The disasters such as Alien invasion or a Tsunami are a sight to see as they eradicate everything on the screen. The levels are bright and colorful and each one is full of surprises and hidden things for you to help grow your bonus score.

The party mode of the game using Kinect was one of the most interesting modes of the game. Using various poses and pretending to drive a car into an intersection proved to be very fun and some of the actions that you have to perform tend to be quite comical. For example, we had to gesture like we were laying an egg in order to get the crash to happen. Steering the car was quite simple as well, you simply put out your hands like you are holding a real steering wheel. To move the car around the screen the Kinect camera can detect how far away you are and translate it to the movement of the car on the screen.

In terms of playing with your friends who will also play online, you get to issue challenges to people on your friends list to see who is the better person at causing all of the destruction. As you issue a challenge, your friend will have the opportunity to try their hand at it and see if they can beat your score. If they do manage to beat your score, they will be able to keep a golden cup by their ID until you can beat their score. The game will also recommend friends for you through the use of EA's new service, Origin.

The most noticeable piece of this game was its extensive use of sound. The entire time as a crash happened there was a sound that I instantly associate with slot machines. If you got a bonus or a big combo a little bit of a pop song would come in. The use of these sounds really connect with the user in an enjoyable way so that the player feels rewarded each time that they do something spectacular, like crash a special gold car or one of the red sports cars that appear within the game.

Like others have said before, people are kind of on the fence about the game.  The concerns that have been addressed make sense because when you have a brand like Burnout, there are certain expectations that the public wants. One of those expectations is speed, another is the crashes and finally, races. This title might be a piece of the Burnout pie, but we all like pie. 

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