In Criterion’s paperless office-of-tomorrow environment there’s no room for such antiquities as – PAH! – filing cabinets. But we were recently in the midst of clearing out the ideas cave when we discovered a chest of ancient Criterion design documents. The rusted key turned in the lock and when the drawers clunked open, the memories flooded back.
How did that ground-breaking feature start off? Whatever happened to that thing that we all got excited about before it dropped off the bottom of the ‘must-have’ list?
For the first time those secrets can be revealed in… The Lost Treasures of Criterion!
#1: The Burnout 3 Jam Car
The Jam Car was discussed as being B3’s ultimate nemesis car that players would drive against in Face-Off races hidden in the race championship. Win the race and you got the car to drive.
There would be a different Jam Car model to unlock in each car class. It would have matched the best car in that class for top speed and it was equipped with super-aggressive AI, a dirty black paint job and heavy armour. The armour made it almost indomitable in battle and it would even able to shrug off minor traffic collisions to leave a trail of pile-ups in its wake for the player to tangle with. However, those massive bull bars and fenders weighed it down so much that it would have been cursed with slow acceleration.
Once it got going it wasn’t easy to stop the Jam Car, but if it were to tangle with a big rig, it would have taken a while to get back up to speed. If you could force it into a Wall Takedown or outdrive it on a corner you might get ahead – but only for a while. And it would have been pretty scary to look behind and see it bearing down on you again.
Why call it the Jam Car? Older gamers may remember a high-end car racing set released by The Ideal Toy Company in the 1970s called Total Control Racing (or TCR). These differed from similar toys because you could make your car change lanes at any moment. They also came with a slow-moving drone car called the Jam Car, that just sat in your way as a moving obstacle that you had to overtake.
In terms of behaviour, though, Burnout’s Jam Car would have had more in common with the Black Devil cars in Namco’s early PSOne Ridge Racers. But to give it supreme driving AI and top speed, AND make it super-tough as well could have made for a juggernaut opponent that was frustrating to race against and unbeatable in battle. And if the player DID get to drive it, the balance of all the races would have been thrown out of whack. In the end, the concept was dropped in favour of the more balanced Dominator cars, which had the speed and the black liveries, but not the unstoppable gorilla power of the original Jam Cars.