Burnout Crash’s automotive chaos smashes on to iOS

Burnout, the long-running series of destruction-oriented racing games has made the jump to iOS. Originally available as a downloadable title on Xbox Live and Playstation network, the latest edition to the series, Burnout Crash is now available as a Universal iOS app. Developed by Criterion Games and EA, the game’s casual, quick-hit gameplay is likely to please iOS gamers.

Unlike previous titles in the Burnout series, which were relatively traditional arcade racers with an emphasis on full-contact competition, Burnout Crash has more in common with puzzle games and pinball. Unfolding from a top-down perspective, players fling their car at a busy junction and must cause as much chaos as possible by crashing into other vehicles, destroying buildings and taking advantage of bonuses from special vehicles such as pizza trucks, ambulances and bank vans.

Control is handled through a simple touch-based interface — while approaching the junction, the car follows the player’s finger, and after the initial crash, the car may be “flicked” around the play area. Over time, a “Crashbreaker” bar fills up, and if the car is flicked while this is full, it triggers an explosion and sends it flying much further than usual. Hitting cars, buildings and other structures builds up the player’s score, with bonuses on offer for causing maximum carnage in the minimum time.

The game offers three game modes for each level. In Rush Hour, players have 90 seconds to cause the biggest crash possible, at which point the car gives one final large detonation. In Pile Up, players have a limited number of incoming vehicles with which to cause chaos and are then only limited by how long they can keep a destruction combo flowing. And in Road Block, players may keep the carnage going until they have allowed five vehicles to escape unscathed. Each mode on each level carries five “stars,” which may be earned by meeting various objectives that range from beating score targets to destroying specific vehicles or structures. New vehicles and levels are unlocked by earning specific numbers of stars. There is no means of “purchasing progress” as in other iOS games — all content must be earned rather than bought.

The game is set up for social play. It supports Game Center for achievements but makes use of EA’s proprietary Origin network for leaderboards. This is due to the use of EA’s “Autolog” system. First seen in Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit on Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and PC, the system gives players personalized friend recommendations and the ability to issue one-on-one challenges.

EA’s use of Origin allows it greater flexibility in how it implements the game’s social features, but it also means players may have to sign up for additional services in order to play with certain friends. For example, there is no means of finding Game Center friends on Origin — users must instead directly share their usernames with one another, find each other via email address or connect with Facebook. It’s a messy system, but EA has been insistent on pushing its own network in its own titles for some time now. In theory, the use of Origin would enable cross-platform play and communication, but it is yet to be implemented in a meaningful manner. The console versions of Burnout Crash make use of Xbox Live and PlayStation Network, and there is no means of communicating with these services via Origin, making the whole thing seem like an extra layer of unnecessary hassle for players to get the most out of the game.

That said, Burnout Crash is a good quality game that works well on the iOS platform. The quick-hit “score attack” gameplay is ideal for short play sessions, and the emphasis on social play is perfect for portable and mobile gaming. The presentation is good, with functional graphics and excellent use of licensed 1980s music throughout. Detractors of excessive microtransactions in mobile gaming will also be pleased to note that Burnout Crash is an example of that increasingly rare thing — an iOS game which doesn’t include any additional monetization beyond its base price. While this has the potential to hurt the profitability of the game in the long run, the brand recognition of the Burnout name coupled with the fact that an iOS version of Crash has been anticipated for some time will ensure that it enjoys some success, at least in the short term.

As a new title, Burnout Crash is not yet listed on the App Store leaderboards. Once it is, you’ll be able to follow its progress with AppData, our tracking service for iOS and social games and developers.