Reviewing games you have a history with is always difficult, especially when they're derivative titles from a series you hold dear to your heart. Looking back on it, at some point I've owned each of the eight Burnout games that make up the franchise going back to the original that was released all the way back in 2001.

If you've never played a proper Burnout game (which is a problem you really should look into solving) here's what the series is all about- Imagine a high-octane arcade racer that not only has a fabulous sense of speed, but takes the typical car damage system dozens of steps further into a car crashing system. Instead of merely beating the competition to the finish line, gameplay focuses on making sure your your opponents never actually make it there.

Subsequent sequels took this many steps further, even evolving into entire game modes that focused entirely on orchestrating the most elaborate pile-ups you can. It's from these game modes that Burnout Crash [$4.99] is distilled from, making its original appearance on Xbox Live Arcade and PSN late last year.

In Crash, the familiar racing game camera angle is replaced with an overhead birds-eye view of your car. The game consists of a series of intersections, each with slightly different layouts and traffic patterns, and you need to unleash as much damage as possible. Initially, you drive in, and slam into some cars. Cause enough damage, and you'll be able to explode again, and vaguely control where your car gets blasted to in the process. This continues until you've either let five cars escape off screen, or you've reached the damage threshold for the level.

Burnout Crash perfectly embodies the horrid cliche of "Easy to learn, but difficult to master." It'll only take you a few tries to get a handle on the game physics, but actually learning the nuances of where to try to stack up cars on each intersection and how to position your own car to not mess up existing piles almost turns Crash an entirely unexpected physics puzzle game, especially if you jump into it expecting something like previous Burnout titles.

Gameplay is further spiced up by special cars that appear such as a wave of police cars that block part of the intersection to the insufferably terrible driver Dr. Beat who will restore one of your missed cars if he survives his drive on and off screen. (However, as Penny Arcade points out, he'll crash into anything.) Additional game modes also add a decent amount of replay value.

My first experience with Burnout Crash was on Xbox Live Arcade, as a $15 title. Like most Burnout games, the overall energy of the game was amplified by a real soundtrack, heavy amounts of voice work, and a fabulous tutorial, creating an absolutely fantastic first impression. Those last two things? Nowhere to be found in the iOS port of the game. I could understand cutting a lot of the voice overs if EA was shooting for the 3G download limit, but the game weighs in at 146MB currently. The lack of any kind of tutorial is even more puzzling, and has left players in our forums confused as to what you're even supposed to do in the game.

That's not what has me personally disappointed the most though, as I already know how to play and usually play iOS games with the sound very low or off so voiceovers don't do much for me. What I'm bummed about is that for whatever reason, EA thought the best (and only) way to control the game was via a weird system of swiping gestures to move your car around after each crash breaker explosion.

If you can "see the Matrix" behind Burnout Crash, it's apparent that what you're playing is a very elaborate and cleverly disguised ball-rolling game. Imagine something like Labyrinth 2 [$4.99], except instead of freely rolling the ball you can only move when a crash breaker triggers, and instead of trying to make it to the end, you're trying to roll into as much as you can. It's because of this that tilt controls, even when playing on the Xbox 360, felt like they'd make the most sense- as they often do in top-down games.

On the technical side of things, given just how long EA has been working on the iOS port of Burnout Crash, there's some odd flaws. While I'm thankful the game is universal, some of the textures in game are blatantly low-resolution on the new iPad. I've experienced Game Center weirdness, with popups often telling me that the game is not recognized by Game Center. Additionally, most intersections start with some noticeable frame rate drops as you race towards them. Also, the little springy "boing" sound that plays each time you swipe the screen really needs to go.

Admittedly, I'm probably being overly nitpicky because of my experience with this game. However, the things Crash feels like it's missing don't make a whole lot of sense, especially when it comes to the game's tutorial. Regardless, I'm still going to play through Crash over and over again on my iPad, with my fingers crossed that EA eventually addresses some of these things. And even if they don't, if you've never played the console version, I'm not even sure you'll care or notice.

TouchArcade Rating

  • Michael Goodson

    Ugh. The preview image of that video looks like the corpse of Amy Winehouse is about to kiss the corpse of David Hasselhoff.

    • Tyler Piderit

      I don't like that ad in any way, shape or form.

  • Dimitris Katsafouros

    Hmm... I was really pumped for this game but it seems we've been EA'd. 
    Will probably buy it but was a bit disappointed by the poor performance and missing stuff described in the review.

  • DotComCTO

    Regarding voiceovers, I'm going to bet that EA couldn't make that work with the 3Gx & iPad 1 platform due to its limited memory (256 MB shared). I'm betting that graphics and physics calculations took up most of the available internal (shared) RAM on those older devices. As for the tutorial and tilt controls? That seems like a gimme. No idea why EA did that...maybe they'll make that IAP so we can pay more!  🙁

  • Jensen_G

    I don't understand the rating. The review spends most of its time talking about how the game fails in various ways, and then awards it 4 stars.  Made worse is all of the references to the xbox version, which many of us don't care about at all.  This leaves me having no idea whether this game is worth purchasing. 

    • Eli Hodapp

      How would you suggest one review a port of an Xbox/PS3 game without referencing the original?

      • Jensen_G

        ok, so I was being nitpicky with the xbox part, I'm just frustrated because I've been looking forward to the review and just don't feel like I have a good pulse on how much fun you really had with this game. It seems like if you were able to pick it apart as a glorified ball roller when it's billed as a car crashing game, that it can't be that much fun…yet isn't 4 stars a strong recommendation?

      • James Donnellon

        No offense but I kind of felt the same way. I was confused. After hearing your thoughts last night on the forums I was like ok definitely not getting this. But now im confused. So lets say if you have never played the original is this worth getting? The controls bother me the most but I could deal with that if its still a decent game. I assume the 4 stars is more of a review of the game as if you never played the original correct? If you are comparing it to the original then the rating would be lower since its lacking in all the voice overs and sound etc.

      • Eli Hodapp

        It's a game with issues that's still fun because it's a good game. Our star system doesn't represent any traditional measure, and more just serves as a display of how much we recommend the game overall.

      • James Donnellon

         Ok thanks Eli. I dont usually go by the star system and just read the reviews but for some reason this game has been getting mixed reviews and its hard to decide. I will probably just spend the $5 its worth it.

      • Eli Hodapp

        It's also worth considering that EA does 99¢ sales with ridiculous regularity.

      • Jensen_G

        That's what I was thinking. It's gone into my AppShopper want list, and once it's on sale I'll pick it up. Hopefully the controls will improve with future updates too

      • James Donnellon

         Did the same 🙂 Appshopper is awesome don't know what I would do without it

      • Tyler Piderit

        Bingo. Life without AppShopper is haggard.

      • James Donnellon

         lol yeah that's why I was debating so much because I was like is it worth getting now or waiting for the price drop?... I will probably just wait for the sale, I usually do anyway but I like the Burnout series a lot so I was tempted to buy it right away.

  • Gemutlichkeit

    I refuse to buy the game based on the stupid advertisement.

    • Vince Lupo

      Forget the advertisement.  Buy the game.  No regrets here. 

  • Tim Lord Gek Jordan

    While it seems to run very hitchy on my iPod 4G, it actually is fairly smooth on my iPad 1G for some reason.  Very cheesy but I think a lot better done than say Neon Play's Traffic Panic 3D. 

  • frizzaro

    I would pay happily $ 5,00 for Burnout: Revenge. Not for this.

    • Vince Lupo

      This is so worth it though.  I've spent HOURS on it already.  Absolutely fantastic game!

  • pew_pew_pewww

    Remember when Burnout wasn't a shitty top down view Facebook game? Good times...

  • Joey

    I bought it and think it's a lot of fun.  It took me a few rounds to really appreciate all that is going around, but it is fun and works great on the new ipad.  4.5 / 5 updates will make this better, I for one will be playing this for a while.

  • Vince Lupo

    This game is perfect.  I don't think tilt would work well for it and would actually annoy me.  The gestures to move your exploding car in one direction or another are EXTREMELY intuitive and fun.  

    Also, who needs a tutorial!?  Jump right in and start exploding stuff.  They could have added it but it does not need it at all.  You try to get points.  You get points by damaging the most stuff you can.  The stars on each level give you extra goals and help guide you and teach you all you need to know.  Also, each level gives you a different quick tip I think.

Burnout™ CRASH! Reviewed by Eli Hodapp on . Rating: 4