Burnout Crash tries to spin the series crash mode into a full fledged game while giving it a casual, mobile gaming presentation. How does it pan out?

Burnout Crash is an action game which takes place in various traffic intersections. Your goal is to crash a vehicle into traffic then repeatedly explode, steering your wrecked vehicle into further targets. There are three game modes to choose from. In Road Trip you prevent vehicles from safely escaping in order to trigger a cataclysmic event such as tidal waves, plane crashes, or giant rampaging lobsters. If you let 5 vehicles escape, the game ends, although you keep your score. In Rush Hour you cause as much damage as possible in 90 seconds, ending with a large crashbreaker. In Pile Up you start with a multiplier that is reduced by escaping vehicles. After traffic stops the multiplier becomes active and you can keep causing damage as long as there's a crashed vehicle or building currently on fire. In all modes you can enable special features that award bonus points such as giant sinkholes, roads turning to ice, or target vehicles.

Like most Burnout games, stars are awarded for certain accomplishments which are used to unlock new stages and vehicles. You can choose between several vehicles which range in balance between explosive power and the speed that the wrecked vehicle moves after exploding. Maneuverable vehicles are useful for Road Trip and Pile Up, while heavy explosives vehicles are useful for Rush Hour. The scoring system rewards skill shots, continuous explosion chains, and any damage caused by the player. Just like in previous Burnout crash modes, though, there's only so much skill and strategy you can apply to your attempt, and the rest is luck. There's even more luck than usual now that special features are random and may appear in different locations every attempt.

Road Trip is a difficult and technical mode to score on, yet it's also the default mode that must have at least one star earned to access the other two modes on that stage. It was a bad idea to make this the first and default mode to play through and almost certainly earned it lower scores with impatient or poorly skilled gamers. Later Road Trip stages up the difficulty further by including roundabouts, wide and difficult to block lanes, and traffic coming from multiple lanes at once. And yes, the suburban looking cars sometimes pull moves reserved for F1 circuit hairpins in order to escape your crashing clutches. Rush Hour more closely resembles the older Burnout game crash modes, simply driving into traffic and trying to cause as much carnage as possible while button mashing for more explosions. No surprise that it's the fan favorite. Pile Up can be stressful like Road Trip since missing cars reduces your multiplier and thus scoring potential.

Almost everything about Burnout Crash screams that it's a 5 minute distraction on a smartphone. The music, sound effects, presentation, voiceovers, and graphics all suggest the game isn't to be taken seriously. The crashbreakers are smaller and weaker, voiceovers constantly laying on the bad jokes, and the "music" as special vehicles drive by are unbearable, especially the Pizza Truck. You'll want to crash into it just to make it shut up. It's unfortunately a game best played with voiceovers off and the volume low. Despite obviously being music, the irritating special vehicles sounds are counted as effects and won't go away when you turn the music off.

So is it possible to play Burnout Crash for score, despite the extremely casual presentation? Maybe. The big issue with playing repeatedly for score are the constant pauses and explanations that happen every time a special feature occurs, no matter how many times you've played the stage. It disrupts the action and wastes time. A more important issue is the lackof global leaderboards, making wider competition difficult or impossible. In its place is a crippled EA/Origin account service that only lets you compare scores with players who also have EA/Origin accounts and are listed as your friends, otherwise your list is 100% empty. EA has shamelessly removed a helpful feature in order to force players into social networking on their EA/Origin accounts just to compare scores. And lest you forget it, the voiceovers frequently croon that Burnout Crash is "powered by Autolog". Even Burnout Revenge for the Playstation 2 and Xbox 360 had online leaderboards. So much for global competition, then.

Beyond the cynical gutting of the leaderboards and poor design decisions, Burnout Crash doesn't perform very well as a score based game. While it does take more skill and strategy than the crash modes found in previous Burnouts, it can't stand on its own merit. Inevitably the best players will end up using the same strategies, smashing the same targets, and hoping for a random event to occur to boost their score beyond its previous value. Criterion should have focused on making Burnout Crash either a fully casual joyride with more entertaining explosions and mayhem, or something with a less irritating presentation and design better oriented towards repeat scoring attempts. Instead they ended up with a product that might be entertaining for a few hours, but won't last most peoples interest beyond that. Burnout Crash was recently announced for the iPhone and iPad platforms, where the touch interface and portability may be a more natural fit.

Burnout Crash provides some cheap crashy entertainment, but doesn't have much longevity. It feels like a mobile phone game that lost its way and ended up on Xbox Live.

  • Unique vehicle crashing experience
  • Can be played for score by the truly dedicated
  • Getting 270 stars can take a while
  • Rush Hour is mindless crashy fun
  • No regional or global online leaderboards
  • Casual players won't like the Road Trip mode
  • Poorly designed for repeat scoring runs
  • Music played around event vehicles is annoying
Quote:"Burnout Crash provides some cheap crashy entertainment, but doesn't have much longevity. It feels like a mobile phone game that lost its way and ended up on Xbox Live."
Reviewed by Matthew Emirzian | 09.21.11

Similar Games: Burnout Paradise (9,1) | Burnout 3: Takedown (9.5)


Burnout Crash

Xbox Live

Criterion Games


US Release
September '11


Xbox Live Arcade

Players 1-14
800 MS Points
1.05 GB