If Burnout 2 was running on nitros, Burnout 3 feels like it's packing twin jet engines under the hood and is powered by rocket fuel! It's so quick it'll rip the shirt off your back and singe your nip hair!
Here's why it's so friggin' nippy: the fastest car in Burnout 2 is now the slowest in part three! And there are 70 of these monster motors to unlock, including brand new Indy and F1-style cars that threaten to go supersonic around every bend and shatter your TV screen. We're not pulling your pole when we say that it feels almost as quick as F-Zero GX on GameCube!
But it's what developer Criterion has done with those insane speeds this time round that really makes it such a standout arcade racer. Burnout 3 doesn't tread on Midight Club 3's turf or try to imitate Need For Speed 2. It does its own crazy thing, away from the whole car modding scene, and gives you instant on and offline thrills with a brilliantly perverse twist...
See, Burnout's changed! Now it's all about being the most aggressive a-hole imaginable and obliterating your fellow racers with wild Takedowns, Slams, sideswipes and shunts! You can't afford NOT to drive dirty. It's survival of the fastest and the fiercest!
This month, we shot down the motorway in Graeme's Nissan Sunny to EA's headquarters in the badlands of Surrey and caned Burnout 3 for a day.
We hammered the single-player, blazed through all the new modes, including the newly souped-up Crash mode, and even slapped the crap out of some cocky Spanish journos in eight-player online heats!
So you know it's fast and aggressive, but what we haven't told you yet is that it's wicked.
Even the straightforward single-player races are insane. We popped off to a scorching start in our first meet, but the AI drivers are crazy sons of bitches this time. They'll do anything to crush your car down to the side of a squished Coke can. That's when your driving morals suddenly fly out the sunroof and the adrenaline kicks in.
Burnout's famous risk-reward system is still in place - weaving through head-on traffic, pulling near misses and dangerous driving gain you a little bit of boost juice. However, now you only get decent chunks of juice by ramming your opponents off the road in spectacular fashion. And when you do, they get mega pissed off.
There's a yellow position logo floating above each car, but when you take an AI car out it turns red, and these angry buggers try even harder to tear you to pieces! It's a brilliant balance - you've got to be offensive the whole way, or you end up looking like a sucka, getting burned and at the back of the pack. It's brutal!
As well as instinctive Takedowns, there are Signature Takedowns! These occur at certain points on a track, and if you nail one your boost bar and score storm up. We pulled off one Signature Takedown that saw us Slam a driver off a cliff at the perfect moment, sending his car tumbling and crumbling in slow-mo to the great big scrapyard in the sky!
Sure you can trigger slow-mo to revel in your victim's demise, but it serves a new purpose in Burnout 3. When you've been Slammed you can hit the slow-mo button to apply After-Touch during your crash. This enables you to turn the car in the air - not ridiculous amounts, it still looks believable - and try to take out other cars with you!
After-Touch works especially well in the new Crash mode where you're trying to cause unholy pile-ups at over 100 unlockable junctions. Say you're driving into oncoming traffic and clip a lorry - it jack-knifes spilling its payload across the road - but instead of your car skidding wildly forwards you can affect its angle slightly with After-Touch, sending it across to the traffic on the other side of the road. This adds to the chaos and makes for an even more spectacular smash scene.