In an era where the “games as art” debate rages more publicly and ferociously than ever, gamers have received more beautiful, story driven adventures than could be imagined in past decades, such as Journey or Shadow of the Colossus. These games not only provide beautiful atmosphere, but more importantly, challenge players in those emotional ways that only video games can. They reach into your heart and have you fight with, travel with, and maybe even cry with your protagonist, who eventually could almost be considered a friend, despite his or her virtual status. Truly, games like those touch and inspire, and will continue to do so for decades to come.
Burnout CRASH! is not one of those games.
Those familiar with the Burnout license will know the series not for its fast-paced races or its arcade-style presentation, but for its brutal, horrific, and absolutely hilarious focus on slamming cars into other cars in an attempt to create as much “car”-nage (rimshot) as possible in the unlucky intersection of your choosing.
This mobile iteration of the series goes a step further into pure junkyard truck-fighting bliss by removing any modes other than the infamous crash mode, changing the gameplay to a top-down perspective with swipe to move controls, and sending the player repeatedly hurtling into the unsuspecting midday traffic that covers all the various intersections within.
It doesn’’t sound like a whole lot of content, sure, but perhaps because EA chose not to port a full console game to mobile, instead making the game for mobile device from the ground up, Crash does its job well. It is action-packed to the brim, and as entertaining as a one-armed alien clown juggling flaming chainsaws.
Gameplay takes place across a series of different intersections, and each session has its own little objectives to complete, which when finished, unlock new intersections for the player to rampage through. The core goal of crashing into everything carries throughout and the minutely divergent “modes” all really stay constant: smash the living crap out of any car that even sees you. Each run starts with you sending your little bundle of mechanized death into one of the game’s various freeways, in hopes of violently introducing your car to the assortment of other vehicles traveling on the road.
To this end, you’ll begin each run by maneuvering your car into the “best” spot possible on the intersection, and then proceed through the rest of the mission by swiping your wrecked piece of metal into other cars, buildings, signs, etc., racking up cash along the way.
With the change in perspective comes an all-new atmosphere that brings to mind more of a sick pinball machine mixed with violent air hockey than a traditional Burnout game. Arcade-y bells whistle, a mildly-crazed announcer moves the commentary along, and occasional “super-features” send objects like UFOs or Tidal waves through the intersection to mess up whatever you’ve left standing.
I suppose that’s a good way to sum up the game: more minigame than console port. However, the content that’s packed in does its job. It’s fun.
In removing console-native gameplay in favor of a simpler, yet just as manically fun, tone, Burnout CRASH! keeps the fun coming with every explosion, tidal wave, falling asteroid, and car fire. Those looking for a pure console port should stay on the sidelines a little longer, but for all else, Burnout CRASH! manages to do its namesake justice, despite its radical change in gameplay.
Note: I’ve not mentioned the game freezing up or crashing on me, despite many of the reviews on the app’s page saying the game is notorious for such lack of polish. Throughout my playtime, the game ran smoothly and never crashed once.