The Burnout franchise is funny because it was originally meant to be just another racing game, but the developers decided they wanted crashes to be in it and the ability to ram other racers off the track. The publishers said no to that idea, so the developers left the project to go work on their own game that did have crashes and ramming in it. Thus Burnout was born. And, to my mind, Burnout 3: Takedown has proven to be the height of that vision fulfilled, not least because I generally dislike racing game that aren’t Mario Kart, and find myself often addicted to this one.
Okay, so I know by now you’re wondering ‘why is this post called Civilian Casualties, the game?’. Well, because one of the most prominent game modes in the game revolves around you driving into oncoming traffic to rack up as much damage as possible. Cause a big enough pile-up and you’ll have the ability to explode your wrecked vehicle to cause even more damage. At the end, a slow motion camera pans around the car crash you’ve caused and tells you how many dollars worth of damage each individual wrecked vehicle was worth. All those dollars of damage added up equals your high score. Now, if that wasn’t morbid enough, consider that the coop version of this mode has you competing against the other player to see who can cause the most damage and, as a by-product, the most senseless loss of human life achievable.
And it’s really fun. It’s even challenging. Sometimes there’s multiple lanes of traffic, tunnels and bridges to cross for you to get to the highest concentration of expensive vehicles to smash into. There’s bonus multipliers, speed boosts and other pick ups that you’ll have to dodge or risk having your score halved. It’s a jolly old time.
Another game mode called Road Rage has you smashing into other cars who also want to smash into you… On civilian packed streets! So while you’re at least murdering people who have consented to both murdering you and the possibility of themselves being murdered, lots of other innocents still seem to die in the process. The aim is to smash as many cars as possible before you use up your lives or your vehicle is too damaged to continue. The amount of other cars you destroy is your high score.
Race mode is more or less the same as Road Rage but you can actually win or lose in terms of your placement in the race. You can still smash people off the road, destroy your vehicle or cause the deaths of countless harmless people.
The game has many tracks to choose from that are in North America, Europe and the Far East. You unlock the tracks by playing this game’s equivalent to a story mode, which is just a radio host called Striker encouraging you to travel to places, race folks, destroy folks and annihilate civilian infrastructure, all while he pumps one of the best collections of early 2000’s punk rock songs ever put together. Seriously, to this day I still listen to this game’s soundtrack; Spotify and YouTube have been wonderful in preserving it.
For all that, the best thing about Burnout 3 is honestly how it puts fun above all else; a game design philosophy unfortunately absent from a lot of modern titles (or at least those published by major corporations). There isn’t a single part of this game you’ll ever be able to find that wasn’t designed with your fun in mind, and as the prime motive behind that design decision.
And for that reason, I would absolutely recommend Burnout 3 Takedown, should you find yourself somehow still owning a PlayStation 2.