Burnout 3: Takedown is still in pole position
Drivers are rude, such attitude
Three Fields Entertainment (a skeleton team of ex-Criterion developers) released their closest analogue to their beloved Burnout series yet; Dangerous Driving. And, while it's certainly enjoyable, there are a few niggling issues that rather make it a poor cousin. So it’s back to the best game they made, Burnout 3: Takedown.
The pursuit of Burnout 3: Takedown's "X-factor" has been rampant since its original 2004 release. Weaving through oncoming traffic, driving in ways that would get you an overt telling-off from a policeman. The more aggressive your driving, the more your Boost Bar fills, letting you hit R1 to exceed your top speed even more. Fabulous risk/reward gameplay, very simple to get into, very hard to play well.
Nothing since has matched its almost unbelievably fun Road Rage mode; an against-the-clock fit of sideswiping, bump n' grinding madness that sees you trying to shunt as many of your opponents off the road as possible, scoring those titular "takedowns" with every opponent's vehicle you unceremoniously demolish. The carnage is superbly stylish, with delightful pans to your hapless enemy's car sailing upside-down through the air after a particularly vicious collision. Brilliantly, this scene is immediately followed with your Boost Bar filling to its maximum with a deafening roar of engines, before returning you to the track, bearing down on your next victim like the death machine you so eminently are.
If, somehow, you find yourself reduced to an egregious, fascinating wreck by a boisterous fellow racer, you can use Aftertouch Takedown to move your own twitching car corpse through the air, hoping to strike out someone else from beyond the vehicular grave. Successfully wiping out another driver with your magical floating mess will respawn you with a full Boost Bar, meaning you can get down to revenge in even shorter order.
I haven't even mentioned Crash Mode, the game's real bread and butter. A mode in which you're presented with "Crash Junctions" wherein you have to cause the biggest pile-up possible. Points for tragedy. That mode is an article unto itself. It's a book unto itself.
You can't buy Burnout 3: Takedown any more, sadly. You can buy its sequel Burnout: Revenge on Xbox One Marketplace, but it's just not quite as good. Your best bet to play the absolute pinnacle of the Burnout series again is to grab an original Xbox copy and shove it in your Xbox 360, which I sincerely hope is still plugged in.
Update: Twitter user @kjhalvy informs me that you can, in fact, still buy Burnout 3: Takedown on Xbox 360! I've never been happier to be wrong!!