Throwback Thursday: How well does Burnout 3 Takedown play today?
Is Burnout 3 Takedown better than Forza Horizon 3?
Once a generation a truly great racing game comes along which transcends the genre. They may be celebrated for their cutting edge graphics and realism, but few in the genre manage to become classics. Perhaps the most beloved racing game of the Playstation 2/Xbox/Gamecube era is Burnout 3 Takedown. Remembered for its frantic and fun arcade style of racing it immersed the player into a world of cars, speed, and destruction. Arguably no racing game managed to capture the essence of what made Burnout 3 Takedown so great, until Forza Horizon 3 was released for Xbox One in September 2016. By comparing Forza Horizon 3 and Burnout 3 Takedown we’ll see just how well the PS2/Xbox classic plays today.
Burnout 3 Takedown completely promotes an arcade style of racing. Handling is very loose and provides plenty of opportunities to drift and avoid potential crashes. Likewise the controls encourage players to perform takedowns. Players are rewarded for a variety of skills: drifting, tailgating, avoiding crashes, and driving against oncoming traffic. Most of these are typical traits expected in the genre, but takedowns are what make Burnout 3 Takedown so unique and special. Takedowns are when you ‘take out’ another car by making them crash. These can primarily be done by slamming into the opposing racers, which cause them to either crash into a wall, pillar, or another car. The game then slows down and focuses on the crash happening. The animations are in great detail and feel very rewarding.
Burnout 3 Takedown takes the crashes further by adding Crash Mode and Road Rage. The goal in the first mode is simple: create as much carnage as possible. Typically the player starts just before a crowded junction and drives off a small ramp to crash into oncoming traffic to cause chaos. The player is judged on how much damage is caused and the value of each vehicle. Road Rage seems like a traditional race with other opponents, but the goal isn’t to get the the finish line but takedown as many cars as possible. Targets are set for the amount of cars to takedown, and there’s a time limit too. What makes this mode extra challenging is how the player’s car gets damaged, and stays damaged. The player can only be taken-down a few times before their car is totalled and the mode is over. Once the player has crashed (either in Crash Mode, Road Rage, or racing) Impact Time can be activated to allow the chance for an Aftertouch. This means it’s possible to slightly control the directory of wreck into either oncoming traffic, or other racers, to achieve that Aftertouch reward.
Crashing in most racing games can be a huge annoyance. Usually they leave the player far behind the leading pack and force them to restart the race. Burnout 3 Takedown embraces crashes and makes it the greatest feature of the game.
Forza Horizon 3, despite being more on the arcade style of racing, discourages crashing. It’s a traditional racer in that a crash can completely ruin any chance of coming first. To avoid this problem and make Forza Horizon 3 more accessible, the possibility to rewind was added. This is such a great feature which really should be used in more games of the genre. It encourages players to take risks and to drive too quickly as there’s always the protection of knowing that rewinding and trying something again is only a button away. Rewinding is one of the many features which makes Forza Horizon 3 so accessible to all, not only experienced racing game players.
This doesn’t mean that Forza Horizon 3 is a stripped down racing game only meant for newcomers to the genre. While Burnout 3 Takedown’s Crash Mode and Road Rage are fantastic, they’re the only alternative to straight forward racing in the game. Variety is where Forza Horizon 3 really comes into its own. There are drifting circuits, constant opportunities for 1 on 1 sprints, barn finds (more about those later), bucket list challenges, and stunt jumps. The standouts in these features are by far the last two. Stunt jump challenges allow the player to jump off a ramp into the mesmerizing scenery of Australia. Successful jumps beat a certain amount of distance travelled in the air, with the rewind feature allowing for instant replayability if the target isn’t met. Bucket list challenges are for the car enthusiasts and petrol heads. These vary from driving through the beautiful rainforest in an Ariel Nomad, speeding down the open road in an Aston Martin Vantage, or ignoring the GPS to speed through the Gorge in a Penhall Cholla. There are too many fantastic bucket list challenges to list, but each provides a unique and special moment to engage with the thrill of driving.
Forza Horizon 3 is based around growing a car festival. Significant growth (measured through followers) trigger showcase events. These truly highlight the appeal of the game for both newcomers to the genre and experienced racing fanatics. Each showcase is meant to do exactly that: showcase what the game is capable of and highlight the thrill of racing. Although in showcases the player doesn’t just race other cars, but planes, blimps, boats or even a train. Each provides thrilling and exciting moments where a real sense of speed is created. Forza Horizon 3 allows anyone to fall in love with cars.
Burnout 3 Takedown: 9/10
Forza Horizon 3: 9/10
Immersion in the world
This may seem a strange criteria to include when reviewing games in the racing genre, but both games manage to go beyond the typical conventions of racing games. Burnout 3 Takedown mainly does this through the radio, Crash FM. Radio host Stryker was on top of all the racing and carnage taking place, often updating us on new routes or changes to well-driven roads. The host is everything you’d imagine from an early 2000’s confident guy who listens to mainly Pop Punk and Rock. Adding this radio station was a great way to let the player feel like they’re part of this world.
However there is no open world, really limiting how immersed the player can feel. Obviously it’s completely unfair to expect an open world like Forza Horizon 3, but considering games such as Need for Speed Underground 2 were released the same year, with open worlds to explore, this is something that could have been added. Having to constantly switch back to the menu (which changes the song you are listening to) can be very jarring, especially after the shorter Crash Modes, and takes you out of feeling like part of the world. Plus the player can unlock new cars, but there’s no money involved which means the cars are never really owned and can’t be customized (apart from the colour). This again makes the world seem less open and real.
On the other hand Forza Horizon 3’s open world is not only huge, but it’s engaging, fun, and full of secrets. Barn finds are hidden all over the map, allowing the player to discover and renovate old forgotten classics into usable unique cars. Barn finds encourage exploration, but it really isn’t necessary when considering how beautiful the scenery is and how varied it can be. Drive for 4 minutes and the setting can change from scenic waterfront views to the vast Outback or tropical rainforests. Australia is condensed down perfectly into this incredible map. It’s not just one of the finest open worlds in the genre, but perhaps in all of gaming.
Like Burnout 3 Takedown the radio is a key element to help the world feel real. Forza Horizon 3 provides a great variety of radio stations to choose from (eventually the player unlocks them all), each with a unique host who gives news on race events and rumours. Choice is a big part of the game. Forza Horizon 3 puts the player in charge of their own festival, allowing them to make all the important choices. Plus there are plenty of cars available to buy and choose from, with countless modifications available.
Immersion in the world scoring:
Burnout 3 Takedown: 6/10
Forza Horizon 3: 10/10
Each game’s soundtrack has been perfectly chosen to reflect the feeling created by playing the game. Burnout 3 Takedown specializes in Pop Punk, Punk, and some Rock. Do you enjoy American Skater anthems? Of course you do: it’s 2004. The songs really match the exciting gameplay and feeling of chaos and destruction. However there’s no other choices apart from these genres. Again when considering Grand Theft Auto games had a variety of radio stations since before Burnout 3 Takedown was released, it feels very one-dimensional and out of touch.
Whereas Forza Horizon 3 provides more choice with the music available. Each station (which can be unlocked) provides something different. From Indie to classic Rap, from Trance to Classical. No matter what preference the player has, it is almost certainly met.
Burnout 3 Takedown: 7/10
Forza 3 Takedown: 10/10
Burnout 3 Takedown completely lends itself to exciting multiplayer. The inclusion of the takedown feature provides plenty of chances to takeout friends, or seek revenge. Online (which has recently been shut down for PS2) was another way for the players to find opponents to race against, and most importantly takeout. Road Rage in particular is a favourite for both local split screen and online play.
Forza Horizon 3 however does not include any split screen gameplay. This feels like such a huge opportunity missed. Despite a great online component which allows for creating groups and sharing car designs, missing out on local multiplayer really hurts the game. Burnout 3 Takedown may be the greatest multiplayer racer apart from Mario Kart, whereas Forza Horizon 3 really misses the chance to make the most of multiplayer features. It feels like a typical modern game using online features to form groups, share designs, course creations (which are quite limited), but it leaves a lot on the table which could have been utilized.
Burnout 3 Takedown: 10/10
Forza Horizon 3: 6/10
Final scoring and comments
Burnout 3 Takedown: 32/40
Forza Horizon 3: 35/40
It’s a very close call but Forza Horizon 3 just manages to boost ahead. It’s easy to see why it’s considered the greatest racing game of this generation: the open world is inviting and spectacular, while the gameplay is engaging and exciting. Burnout 3 Takedown does so much well, but it just falls short with the lack of variety. Perhaps the three point difference can be put down to the 12 years between them being made. However without question both transcend the racing genre and are well deserved classics. If you’re looking for an engaging racing game, look no further than these two.
Written by Stan Cohen
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