I have always had a special place in my collection for racing games. Typically, while I devote a lot of time and effort to completing story-based games (Mario, Zelda, Metroid, et cetera), racing games are usually the games I play when I don’t care to think about plot or be forced to attempt the same objective again and again. These days, it’s Super Mario Kart, in my childhood it was Mario Kart 64 and Diddy Kong Racing, and last summer, when I briefly owned a Playstation 2, it was Burnout 3. One of these things is not like the others.
I really liked Extreme G 2. I also really liked the above mentioned DKR and MK games, and F-Zero. I like these probably because they’re complete fantasy – arcade style controls and/or speeds that no real car could ever achieve. I’m not into playing driving games that attempt to make you feel like you’re actually driving a car. Gran Turismo and Need for Speed have never really been my thing, mainly because I don’t think it’s at all fun to not be able to drift around corners or shove other drivers off the track just because a real car can’t do it. That’s where Burnout 3 comes in: to me it’s quite a good blend of realism and arcade ridiculosity. The cars have real names and look like things that you’d actually drive, but they handle impossibly well (for the most part) and do, in fact shove other cars all over the place. They’ve got you racing through back alleys and on highways and in the middle of street markets. It’s all very fantastic and kind of silly.
The fact that the camera automatically goes into slow motion every time you take another car down by ramming the crap out of it is just one more reason. It’s all really indicative of how arcade-y the game really is. And if I remember correctly, they’ve got a ridiculous radio DJ on announcing the whole thing. It’s a lot of fun. I played through the whole thing last summer when I was bored out of my mind lifeguarding by day and gaming by night. I did notice, though, when I started to play it more and more, that I’d be driving in real life in a real car and have the impulse to do Burnout drifts and knock slow drivers around a little bit – this game is dangerous. The same thing happens to me with Mario Kart, though, so maybe I’m just hypersensitive to it. But anyway. One more honorable mention and then the list can truly begin.