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  Release Date:
  September 7, 2004
  EA Games
  Criterion Studios
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Burnout 3: Takedown
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While today's market of racing simulations have collectively reached the end of their creative mileage, it should come as no surprise that Criterion would ultimately offer players a definitive racing experience. As evidenced by the torrential acclaim of its fast and furious installment, Burnout 3: Takedown is guilty pleasure that demands to be experienced by racing junkies and casual gamers alike.

Remaining true to its crash and burn philosophy, Burnout 3 takes the trademark mayhem of its predecessors into overdrive with a bolder emphasis on aggressive racing. Using your car as a weapon, players are encouraged to flagrantly wallop, slam, and ultimately destroy their competition -- all in the name of speed. Unless you're cunning and vigilant, you'll end up the next victim of a massive wreckage on the interstate. So, how that’s twisted metal taste?

Like it or not, crashes can (and will happen) at any time, whether intentional or accidental. A wrong turn at a busy intersection or even a not-so-lightly nudge is all a rival needs to overtake your former position. Thankfully, you can get even using the new aftertouch system, offering the option to slow down the action and steer your wreckage, albeit with limited control. This works best on taking out incoming rivals, rewarding players with additional crash bonuses which go toward unlocking additional content in the single-player mode.

Speaking of which, the single-player mode offers plenty of hours of enjoyment, featuring over 170 events ranging from high-speed races and crash junctions to time trials and eliminator contests. Each event challenges you to win the gold, which in turn, unlocks newer events and additional vehicles including muscle cars, grand prix racers, and even a city bus. Unfortunately for car purists whose fantasies of wreckin' up some of the latest and classic set of wheels as generously presented in such games as GT3: A-Spec or Project Gotham Racing will have to look elsewhere.

Unless you're the type who digs alternative music, EA Trax will undoubtedly make your ears want to buckle up. Although I’ve grown to tolerate the selection, most of the tracks simply don’t appeal to my personal tastes. The same could also be said for DJ Striker, whose every utterance seems uninspiring and dry. Ultimately, he ends up being an major annoyance, much like a chirping backseat driver that relentlessly distracts you from focusing on the road. Mute.

Visually, Burnout 3 is a remarkable achievement. Every crash has been crafted with such detail and precision, that I've yet to find any destructive spectacle to be an old hat -- especially when it's at the expense of my rivals. And while Burnout 3's car models might not outshine those of its recent competitors, you'll be too busy focusing on the road and dispatching your opponents to care.

Accolades notwithstanding, Burnout 3 isn't perfect. For starters, it's difficult to race through certain stages due to the misplaced lens flare effect, ultimately leading to an unfortunate wreck. It's also puzzling that that the game only offers two perspectives to view the action, which I am willing to bet would make it easier to tolerate the aforementioned glare.

Sadly, online gaming also suffers from a few speed bumps of its own, mostly atrributed to the massive userbase playing during any given time. To date, gamers are known to experience random time-outs during active games, rivals popping out of thin air on account of latency issues, and accounts inexplicably locking them out of joining the network. Thankfully, the performance of EA's servers has improved substantially as of recent, but is still subject to the occasional snafu.

Minor quibbles aside, Burnout 3 is unquestionably the breathtaking, definitive racing game of this generation. With its stunning display of 3D visuals, adrenaline-fuelled gameplay, this is one game you shouldn't pass up adding to your collection. Get ready for a ride on the wild side.

Score: Point Point Point Point Half Point

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