EA tries not to crash and burn with Burnout Crash!

Over the past few years, Electronic Arts has become one of the most polarizing companies in entertainment. Their games are regularly on top of best seller lists, but their likability among gamers hovers around the same level as Jack Thompson. EA’s latest offering, Burnout Crash!, comes over from the Xbox and PS3 and slams its way onto the iOS in a fittingly polarizing way. As such, I’ve structured this review in a way that will switch from one extreme to another.

Let’s start with a positive: The gameplay of Burnout Crash! is solid. You’ll take your car into the streets in one of three modes: Rush Hour, Pile Up, and Road Block. Regardless the mode you choose, the key is always to cause as big of a crash and as much destruction as possible. You’ll start each round by driving head on into traffic in the hopes of starting a pile up, and continue to watch the havoc you’ve wreaked add up until you can explode your car again. The best way to inflict more ruination is by flicking your car across the screen with the little control you have.

Burnout Crash!

Then again, every time you move your car without your Crashbreaker–the meter that allows you to blow your car up again, blasting anything within a certain radius–you have to listen to an annoying “boing” sound. You’ll be doing this a fair amount, so prepare your ears for one of the most overused cartoon sound effects ever. Along with that, there’s a pretty obnoxious voice over guy that you’d expect to hear at a monster truck rally, and the music isn’t exactly enjoyable (just a matter of opinion).

If you play on mute, you’ll be able to focus all of your attention on the subtleties of Burnout Crash! While that may be the only time that the word “subtle” is in any way put in correlation with this title, there’s plenty of nuance in the game. Landing top scores and accomplishing tasks are earned more from taking the time to plot out your plan of attack and building solid combinations than simply plowing in and blasting away–though that can totally work too. Knocking out pizza trucks gives you a spin on a power up wheel, and in certain game modes taking out or avoiding specific vehicles will give you benefits.

All of that is great, assuming you know how to play Burnout Crash!. If you played the title in its console form, picking it up shouldn’t be too much of a problem–just replace the controller for the touch screen. If you’ve never played the source of this port or any other Burnout title though, good luck. EA decided to exclude any sort of tutorial, and there’s barely any explanation for what the difference is in any of the modes. Maybe they just thought it would be fitting to teach people through trial by fire, since that’s the thing your car will be engulfed in for most of the game.

Burnout Crash!

Once you do get the hang of the game, and you will after a few rounds or so, there’s plenty to play. 6 different intersections that are spread across some very different looking roads create a solid variety in approach. Some roads are wide and difficult to clog completely, while others are narrow but take odd turns that are hard to move around on in a wreck of a vehicle. There are 54 levels that all sport new goals, and you can always shoot to break your latest high score.

Even though there are six different streets to crash through, they don’t look the greatest. The game has a few spots that are pretty low resolution. It might be more convenient to make the game a universal title, but it takes a hit if you’re playing it on the new iPad. Even though the game doesn’t push the full graphical capability of iOS devices, there were still moments of noticeable slowdowns at the start of levels. The lower quality graphics would be a little more passable if this wasn’t the case, but having both problems seems unacceptable.

Adding to the replay value of the game are the attached goals for each level, and achievements that come with completing the tasks. You’ll unlock new cars at certain points once you’ve mastered enough assignments. It’s something you’ll definitely want to brag to your friends about over Game Center.

Burnout Crash!

Oh wait, Game Center doesn’t recognize the title. Not only that, but it will tell you constantly with pop ups every time you start up the game. Even if it did work, communication with your fellow car crashers has to be done through Origin. If you don’t have an account there you won’t be able to participate in the Autolog, which pits you head to head in battles with friends.

It seems like for every positive that Burnout Crash! provides, there is a negative to counterbalance it. While the great gameplay may win it a few bonus points to put it over the edge overall, the game suffers from things that shouldn’t be a problem. This feels like a title that belongs on iOS, but needs fixing before I’d call it a happy pairing. Let’s hope these issues are addressed in the future. Otherwise, enjoy the game with the mute on.