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Burnout Crash! preview: Kinect Party on the Autolog


Forgoing the usual AAA disc release, Criterion decided the next entry in its Burnout franchise would be a downloadable title featuring Kinect integration. My initial preview of Burnout Crash!, following its unveiling at EA's summer showcase, focused on how the main modes and how gameplay works.

The game has come a long way just over a month later -- as it should have, since it's kinda launching soon. My experience with the Kinect Party mode and Autolog earlier this week showed me that Burnout Crash! stands out as a fun party game.

Gallery: Burnout Crash! (8/31/11) | 5 Photos

First, I was shown Autolog's next incarnation, one designed to offer a more intimate, competitive experience amongst friends. "I didn't get to direct Hot Pursuit, but because Burnout Crash is my game, I got to do things my way this time," explained Richard Franke, creative director at Criterion Games. "What I found with Hot Pursuit's Autolog, I never really used the Wall, I never really took any photos. I found that if I was going to focus my efforts on Autolog, I'd make a little bit more of recommendations. So that's where Challenges come in."

Of course, Autolog will retain the friend recommendations that were in Hot Pursuit, but Challenges add a more personal touch and some bragging rights into the Autolog mix. You can send a Challenge directly to any of your friends and they can do the same to you. Whomever wins that particular challenge is rewarded with a cup, ostensibly a trophy. "It just makes it a little more personal than what we had in Hot Pursuit," Franke added.

I tried out Kinect Party mode, which pits blue against red in a team-based competitive mode. After choosing three, five, or seven rounds of play, a giant slot machine then chooses a few things for the round: the map; the vehicle players will use to create havoc; and the gesture they'll have to perform if they want to trigger an explosion. Last month, Criterion only showed the jump-to-crash move, but it turns out there are six gestures in total, namely jumping, clapping, kicking a soccer ball, tossing a fire ball (hadouken!), laying an egg, and mimicking a cheerleader (in the process of cheering, mind you).

Now, because there are different gestures, the Kinect portion of the game is a lot more viable and less exhausting. Having to jump up and down to initiate explosions, multiple times throughout a round, can tire you out -- and I'm not saying that because I'm a big, lazy dude. With this variety in gestures, the physical aspect of Kinect play can be a bit less intense. Clapping, kicking a soccer ball and throwing a fireball is far less demanding than laying an egg and jumping around.

Perhaps it was the competitiveness of four people in the same room going at it, perhaps it was the fact that Kinect worked really well in the demo space, but I had a lot of fun with Burnout Crash's Kinect Party mode. Last month, I questioned why Kinect was even included in the first place, but now that I've had some more time with it, I can't help but wonder why anyone would want to play it with a controller.

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