In most racing games, the object is to avoid crashes. But the good people at Criterion Games, best known for the terrific Burnout series, have turned that old adage on its head. In their games, not only is crashing not a bad thing; it's the whole point of the game.
Which brings me to Burnout Crash!, a downloadable game on PSN ($9.99) and XBLA (800 Microsoft Points). The object of the game is to drive/steer your vehicle into a busy intersection and cause as much property damage as possible. Broadsiding a bus, for example, will usually cause the bus to block the road. This will subsequently lead to more crashes. And with each passing second, your Crash Breaker meter--located in the bottom lefthand corner of the screen--is refilling. Once it's filled to the brim, hit the A button (or on the PS3, the X button) and cause an explosion, which will send all nearby vehicles scattering.
If this sounds vaguely familiar to you, that's because this is a top-down re-imagining of the Crash Junction mode found in Burnout 3: Takedown (a.k.a one of the greatest racing games of all time).
Gameplay is spread across 18 different intersections of increasing complexity. Each intersection can be played in three different modes: Road Trip, Rush Hour, and Pile Up. In Road Trip, the object is to survive a set number of cars--you can see the number in the top left corner of the screen, and it will tick down as each car appears--and to make sure that no car makes it through your intersection un-crashed. That means constantly using crashed vehicles to cause blockades in the roadway. Let five cars through unscathed, and it's game over.
In Rush Hour, you have 90 seconds to cause as much damage as possible. So get in there and start setting off Crash Breakers, early and often. Pro tip: Keep an eye out for passing pizza trucks. Cause one to crash and you'll get to spin the wheel in a quick game of Pizza of Fortune. Prizes include good cops who come in and set up roadblocks for you as well as multipliers than can triple the cash you're earning.
Pile Up, the third and final mode, requires a bit more strategy. The object here is to wreck as many cars as possible without making them explode. Instead of spamming Crash Breakers, this mode requires a softer touch. Once you've accrued the allotted amount of crashed cars, the inferno phase begins. In inferno, you have five seconds to set the cars and anything else nearby (convenience stores, barns, airports, etc.) on fire. Keep the inferno burning, and you'll get an additional five seconds. But let the fires go out, and you're done.
Scores are measured in millions of dollars. And, of course, not only are you competing against yourself--and unlocking new levels and vehicles--but you're also competing against your friends. Climb to the top of the leader boards, earn the highest dollar amount, and--ka-boom--now you've got bragging rights.
No, none of this makes much sense. But it's pure, insane fun. And the Sports Gamer approves.