For the 3DO to succeed it obviously needs exceptional software. If the games are poor, the machine will fail. It’s that simple. A ‘killer app’, as the Americans love to call it, is critical for the first few weeks of the 3DO’s lifetime. It’s something the Super Famicom had, and something the Mega CD has miserably lacked ever since its conception. Crystal Dynamics is first up to try and convince us that the 3DO is the machine to have – Crash ‘N Burn comes bundled with the Panasonic REAL Multiplayer, so buyers don’t have much choice. But is it good enough to sell 3DOs, or does it leave the dreams of a certain Mr Trip Hawkins a little fragmented?
Let’s start with Crash ‘n Burn’s most appealing aspect, its graphics. Take it from us – since Edge saw the game at Crystal Dynamics back in July, things have progressed considerably. The frame rate is higher – approaching 20 frames a second – and the 3D perspective is even more stunning – it’s both original, and at times breathtaking. While the style of the game steers towards the simple, no-you-can’t-turn-off-the-road type racer, the 3D environment more than makes up for it. Everything moves in 3D – hell, even the sky moves in 3D, and the road dips and twists with the most impressive banking effect you’ll see outside of an arcade.
In all there are six circuits and each circuit has five tracks. The circuits range from the comparatively mundane Crash Course to the wildly undulating Whiplash. There are two play options: Rally Racing and Tournament Racing. The former is a simple blast down the circuit – finish within the first three positions to qualify for the next track. Tournament Racing is an ongoing campaign, complete with weapon upgrades. Yes, weapons. Not your ordinary ’bang, bang’ weapons, but great ‘whoosh, boom’ ballistic missile-type weapons. Crash ‘N Burn certainly lives up to its name, and all the cars have an impressive armoury. Weapons are essential and you soon learn the trick of the trade – like allowing some of the harder opponents to overtake, then showering their vehicle with a barrage of missiles.
There are some disappointments. Quite a few, in fact. The sound’s not great for one thing. In true American style the tunes are bland and rock-based. And then there’s your car – it isn’t the most responsive thing in the world. You have to start turning early in order to negotiate the corners. But even if you don’t, your car can’t fall off the edge of the track. And remembering this is a CD-only system, the loading times are a bit offputting – they’re especially bad considering the 3DO’s 300K/s drive, and this is something that becomes more and more noticeable. As the first game for the 3DO this is impressive enough, and certainly challenging. But then for $699 (with free 3DO machine) what do you expect?
This review first appeared in E3, December 1993.