Crash ‘N’ Burn PS2 Review

The gaming philosophy of many gamers today is of a deep and often complex standard, which leaves many titles on the shelves. Simplicity is the devil as far as many are concerned. Take Crash ‘N’ Burn for instance; it’s an underrated little gem of a game, which will be passed up by many, due to its simple method of crashing cars and then crashing some more cars.

Taking games on face value is pretty vain, but admittedly we have done it ourselves and we did so with Crash ‘N’ Burn. The visuals are passable at best; colourful they are but they are also rather basic and dull. The cars look a little too chunky and some of the crashes result in very slight jerkiness, but when the game does get going, it really ignites into something truly exciting and like every good game should it undoubtedly excels in the gameplay department.

A spartan first race quickly turns from something with little personality into an orgy of fiery explosions, jumping sparks and flying particles of metal. What has been dubbed a Burnout clone turns out to be poles apart from Criterion’s racing master and more akin to the classic Destruction Derby series. The beginning of races are violent and nasty, leaving little room for pulling away and it’s not until the second lap that you see the results of the prior lap’s carnage. Walls of fire stand burning on the tracks as petrol is ignited and any encounter with the said flames causes nothing but damage to your car. Then there’s oil, which effectively results in loss of traction and not forgetting the carcasses of vehicles that clutter the tracks and must be avoided, it’s really one exciting trip and as the race goes on the obstacles just keep on piling up.

The career mode is nicely structured and it’s where you’ll unlock tracks, cars, modes and modifications. There are four car classes, beginning with compact and pickup through to muscle and sports, obviously with the latest being faster than the last. Placing in races earns you experience, which unlocks modifications for cars and allows you to soup up your cars performance.

In fact the customisation options are respectable, allowing you to fit everything from a new shapely front to classy side skirts to your vehicles. The colour options are fantastic, allowing you to colour every single section of your car to whatever takes your fancy, so if you picture a brightly coloured rainbow motor in your head or a more subtle and stylish all black shell, then the choice is definitely yours. You can really individualise your vehicles, which feels almost like a game itself and we found ourselves in the garage when we weren’t smashing our motors up.

There are a number of interesting modes other then the career, which adds variation into the mix, which is nice, even though the standard races couldn’t easily become dull. The Kamikaze races are definitely our pick of the lot, here half of the pack drives one way and the other opposes from the other side, which results in plenty of head on crashes and volatile racing. The problem here is that some of the tracks don’t seem to have been designed with this in mind, and it’s quite common to see a small narrow bridge blocked by wreckages and engulfed by flames, which is both frustrating and exciting at the same time, as a field of cars try to get through the obstacles with as minimal damage incurred as possible. All the modes require a destructive streak and there is plenty here to vary the action, including bomb tag, last man standing and more besides.

Eidos and Climax also have a lot to boast with the fact that Crash ‘N’ Burn is the first 16-player online racing game. Even if 16 human players aren’t racing at one time, AI racers step in to assure that there’s always a field of 16 cars, and as it’s an important number for such a chaotic game it is tremendous and well thought out design. All the modes can be played online and you can even level up in experience and unlock items whilst doing so. We hope to see Crash ‘N’ Burn increase in online popularity, as it could be a marvellous and unpredictable online game. It’s a huge shame that there are no offline multi-player options though and this is one of the games glaring omissions.

Crash ‘N’ Burn is a brutal racing game with a difficulty level that requires patience and a little luck. The amount of fun to be found here is immense, this includes tinkering cosmetically with cars for ages and then smashing the bodywork up. The modes are varied and the action unpredictable, which all results in a game of mass vehicle violence and intense fun. Do yourself a favour and give it a try, you may be pleasantly surprised.