Burnout 3 (2004-04-28 demo)

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Burnout 3 (2004-04-28 demo)
Build Info
Platform: PlayStation 2
Compilation date: April 28th, 2004
Also known as: "April Build"
Released publically: Yes

This promotional demo for Burnout 3: Takedown (then known as simply Burnout 3) was compiled on April 28th, 2004, exactly three months before the game's final retail version. Its executable was recently patched to activate a functional menu system, revealing lots of normally hidden content and a considerable amount of differences.

Notable Differences

Since this demo was initially compiled 3 months before the retail game, it is quite different in several areas.

Menu UI

The menu UI remains mostly the same, though the demo does see a few changes present. The event locations in the Crash Nav have indicators marking various hazards or features that may have an effect on the player during races. The loading screen is also far different and instead of featuring a picture and a caption, it just has the controller setup and a display for gameplay tips at the bottom.


The HUD seen in the demo is known to be in the game since at least February or January 2004, when the game's first screenshots were shown. The color palette of the text and UI elements here is orange and yellow instead of the final Yellow, Gold, and Blue. The on-screen text that appears comes with a small icon in the shape of a road sign, the demo featuring 3 different signs instead of two like retail, on top of using the early designs for them. The crash screen has a more simplistic and dramatic design, featuring black bars seen during replays in the retail game. The layout is different in some modes, staying compact but displaying lots of information at the same time. The most different is crash mode, with a timer and crash damage amount always being displayed throughout the event, likewise to Burnout 2. The boost bar shakes during use, which was also likely at the end of its lifespan by the time the demo released, and was promptly removed sometime before E3.

Crashing Changes

At the time of the demo being compiled, vehicle damage was being overhauled so it features the stretchiness of later builds, combined with the compressing from earlier builds. Akin to real car crashes, parts rarely ever leave the vehicle besides those that are rather loose such as wheels, hoods, trunks, and bumpers on 70s or 60s model cars. Deformation is rather strong, and this was likely the last the game would ever see the mechanic nicknamed 'Folding', where in hard crashes the vehicle will fold upwards likewise to real high speed crashes. Explosions are not presented this early in the game's development, however the fuel tank will still rupture, leaving a small explosion particle under it and lifting the car off the ground. Particle effects from both player and AI vehicles are much stronger, AI wrecks leaving behind plumes of smoke that make them difficult to dodge in large numbers. AI as well can rupture their fuel tanks in wrecks and be sent airborne, allowing for spectacular launches the player can risk driving under.

Early Vehicle Designs

While all other releases of this demo contain only three player vehicles, the NTSC-J release contains over thirty, many of them featuring designs that likely date to circa May 2004. Some vehicles feature early, completely different designs, and some also include LOD models based on even earlier versions of the vehicle's design. Many feature placeholder or, in some cases, never-before-heard engine sounds.

Map Changes

While Downtown is not much different from retail besides the lack of a few billboards or perhaps different placement of them, the map features a key difference. In the demo, there's a lot of spots on corners shortly after the barriers of which riding the wall will be met with instant death. It's possible this was introduced as a way to keep players off the walls with the removal of the wall speed penalty, but was later removed, only still barely present in the retail game, but not on Downtown.

Physics & Combat

Vehicles in the demo can feel at times looser and in some cases, heavier. The differences in weight are much more prevalent, and this is especially noticeable in the car combat. Heavier cars are harder to smack around, and the actual combat itself is almost completely different. Rather than being forced the opposite way after being hit at a specific angle from opponent vehicles, instead, your vehicle is still 'hit' but can still use its weight to take them out. Another mechanic also present known as 'tipping', is a physics feature that is based around a vehicle's center of gravity, which means higher vehicles like compacts or burly muscle cars are easy to tip over, another mechanic inspired much by real crashes, a similar case to folding.

Responsive AI

The AI presented in the demo are far more aggressive, so much so that sometimes they will put themselves on the line just to take you out. While not as noticeable in single event due to broken mechanics and the usual AI behavior of driving slow on the final lap, split screen puts it nicely into perspective and shows you really how the game is supposed to play. AI will catch up to fight you so as long as you stay off the boost, and compared to retail are much more prone to crashing, in many cases at inconvenient times. The 'Panic Effect', also present in Burnout 2 is seen here, where if the player wrecks, the AI are much more likely to crash into surrounding areas trying to avoid it. After the demo, this game mechanic is never seen again.

Mode Changes

Every mode like Burnout 1 and 2 begins with a grid start, and the player is able to accomplish a Boost Start which works the same in both Burnout 2, and online or crash modes for Burnout 3, Legends, and Revenge.

Road Rage in the demo is mostly the same on the surface, but it has a few differing mechanics. Instead of battling the same 3 vehicles the entire event, the player is now pitted against 4 other opponents. Upon taking them down, they are considered "Eliminated" and another car in the same class is supposed to spawn to take its place.

Similar to Burnout Revenge Crash Mode, the demo features a crashbreaker that must be charged, although instead of getting a number of cars to crash or explode to fill it, the player must instead travel lots of distance and/or collide with vehicles. Since explosions are not present this early on, initiating it sends all nearby cars into an airborne stasis indicated by the same distinct sound and particle effect used when the player vehicle propels itself off the ground in a crash. Impact time tracks play in the demo Crash Mode but usually are cut off momentarily until crashbreaker is initiated.

Camera Changes

The demo features a set of after-race cameras that aren't presented in the final game. As opposed to the camera sticking in place, it follows the player vehicle around shortly before sending you back to the start menu of the demo, and in split-screen it will initiate a replay.

The demo's unique crash camera works based on events happening around the player vehicle, but the camera with its removed functionality is still seen in the final game's crash mode. It appears rarely in the final game but generally only for a few seconds before changing or ending the crash. The crash camera stays fixed to the player car, rotating and panning to give a view of each subsequent wreck as well as approaching rivals, allowing the player to avoid or aim for them. Crash cameras present before this point and in the Crash + Burn trailer are used as post-race and replay cameras here.

Darker Undertones

Earlier versions of Burnout 3 are thought to be a lot more grim in tone, and this demo is no exception. Impact Time tracks are clearly more brutalistic and audibly violent compared to retail's, and screams or wails of pain can be heard when the player or nearby AI drivers crash. Text strings in the executable indicate these undertones being much heavier even before this point, with the HUD message for a Psyche Out takedown possibly having been Caused A Suicide!

Known Issues

 Issues marked with * are only presented in the modded demo featuring functional menu systems.
  • Outside of Championship events and Split-Screen modes, the AI do not act as they are meant to, being far less aggressive than they should be.
  • Replays do not work for single-player modes; the player is simply sent back to the main menu shortly after finishing an event.
  • Running out of time or being totaled in a Road Rage event will soft-lock the game.*
  • Road Rage is unable to pool in new cars of the same class after a rival is eliminated for reasons unknown, and will reuse the same vehicles similar to retail.*
  • In a similar instance to Road Rage, Race events' rivals will copy whichever car the player is driving.*
  • Crash Mode must first be completed through the dedicated menu before being able to play in Single Event.*
  • Reverse tracks in Single Event will respawn you facing the wrong way; Race and Championship events are the only exceptions to this.*
  • The option to enable vibration for the controller does not do anything.*
  • Due to the lack of tracks, a sizeable portion of the game is inaccessible and much is still unseen.*
  • The dedicated Crash Nav does not work; it attempts to load a Crash event instead of initializing the Nav itself.*
  • Several menus are inaccessible without replacing an existing menu:*
    • The Championship event list featuring Race, Road Rage and Crash events
    • The proper Crash Nav menu
    • The full Driver Details menu (then known as My Burnout), featuring lap records and completed Takedown Milestones