Remember a few weeks ago when I talked about going to London? That wasn’t quite the whole story. The Starbucks, the tiny food, the spokesmodel search all happened but there was a little more that I couldn’t tell you about until now. In fact, I didn’t know it was going to happen until I actually got there, the invite that was sent out clearly said this was an event for Need for Speed: The Run, that was it. However, while we were all waiting outside to be let loose on the minuscule food, some clever soul glanced through the window and saw another logo on display: Burnout Crash! Everything was not quite as it seemed. Sneaky EA, very sneaky.
Press "A" to 'splode.
To put it simply, the Kinect mode in Crash! is hilarious. It’s not quite as embarrassing as Dance Central can be, but any game that makes you flap your arms like a chicken is going to have a pretty high hilarity rating. It’s not just chicken flapping though, when you start in the Kinect mode you pull the lever on a slot machine which randomizes your car, map and the action you need to do to explode the car. Apparently there are six in the game, although personally I only jumped and clapped (although I did see people throwing Hadoukens).
Ah yes, the explosions. I’ve skimmed over that a bit haven’t I? Crash! is basically the absolute peak of the crash modes from older Burnouts, boiled down literally as far as you can go. You come into an intersection of some kind (there were cross roads and roundabouts on show) at full speed, only being able to control your direction. Once you hit the intersection the aim is pretty obvious: crash into something. This is where the fun bit starts.
As soon as you crash, in typical Burnout fashion, you explode. However once you’ve thrown your car into the air, it’s not a simple case of typical Burnout physics, or even the physics from any racer. I wouldn’t say that Criterion have gone to the complete cartoon extreme with Crash’s physics engine, but they’re not far off. So we’ve these physics in place you’ve got pretty accurate directional control over your car; there’s no spinning crazily or trying to move in a general direction here, although it’s not quite one-to-one either. There is a little resistance, and if you try and switch direction quickly you will lose a lot of speed very quickly. Criterion have tuned it just right so you have enough control to get your car where you want it to be, and that is the whole point of Crash.
Like pinball but with really explosive cars.
The special meter is just that, special. Want to cause a tornado? Then the special meter really is your friend. Of course, it doesn’t do the same thing in each of the three modes, in Inferno it (quite obviously) causes your car to catch on fire. That’s the whole aim of the mode in fact: build up to the inferno and then keep cars blazing as long as possible. The longer they’re on fire, the higher your score. Simple, yet so much fun.
That’s the thing about Crash, it is fun. We all (myself included) pretty much ridiculed the game when we saw those first screenshots, but Criterion really know what they’re doing. It’s 2D for a reason, the controls and the core mechanics simply wouldn’t work without it. Yes, they could have built the crash mode from older Burnout titles into its own title but it probably wouldn’t actually be as good as Crash is. In fact I’m almost certain it wouldn’t. It wouldn’t be as tight, wouldn’t be as focused and just simply wouldn’t work quite as well as Crash does.
The crash mode in Burnout has always been a puzzle game to some extent but, by switching to the overhead perspective, everything has become much more explicit. You can really see an overview of what’s going on, and work out tactics for blocking as much of the junction as possible (diagonals work really well).
So, yes we may have mocked Crash, we may have said we didn’t want this and we may have thought that we were being short changed by Criterion. The thing is, while we’re not getting what we may have wanted, it doesn’t really matter: Criterion came up with something better.