Serious petrol heads assure me that true fans do not watch motor racing for the crashes. Itâ€™s a sport of technique, tactics and finesse - with the emphasis always on safety. And then thereâ€™s developer Criterionâ€™s series of Burnout arcade racing games, where it is definitely all about the crashes. Burnout Paradise, the latest in the series, is another panel grinding, revâ€™ screaming, motion blurred homage to driving really fast and stopping very quickly. In this case stopping usually involves an exchange of paint, a brief moment of flight and a large concrete wall.
The Burnout games, now into their fifth generation, are a great example of knowing what you like and running with it. The simple pleasures of unlocking cool cars, taking impossible corners at impossible speeds and nudging your friendâ€™s ride off an overpass and onto a motorway, are enthusiastically catered to. Conversely, the fundamental rules of real world physics are totally disregarded, as are the rules of basic engineering. Quite simply, in the world of Burnout Paradise, if you still have four wheels, youâ€™re still rolling.
As you would expect, Burnout Paradise delivers everything fans have come to expect from the franchise, but it has also added plenty of new features. The game is set in Paradise City, an enormous, open environment that you can freely explore. The city is packed with jumps and shortcuts, as well as garages and paintshops where you can get in-race repairs or down time touch-ups. Also, you no longer move between races via a map or menu: races can be engaged at any stoplight, while Burnoutâ€™s trademark crash mode can be engaged at any intersection.
Graphically the game is stunning. Crystal clear environments and lighting effects are the perfect backdrop for the beautifully rendered, diverse range of cars. Cars very quickly lose paint and gain dents before disintegrating, spectacularly, into their component parts. Burnout Paradise is also dead serious about keeping the frame rate up; Criterion promises smooth graphics even when the screen is packed with an incredible amount of action or you are competing online. The multiplayer features are an essential element to Burnout Paradise. Online, you not only compete in races, but you can also work cooperatively in a series of challenges, all the time keeping track of your friends through a real-time ticker running along the bottom of your screen.
But Burnout Paradise isnâ€™t about making friends; itâ€™s about destroying them and then reveling in it. So, by late November, weâ€™ll all want to be taken down to Paradise City, where the streets are mean and the drivers are even meaner.
The Good: No load screens or artificial barriers.
The Bad: Me resorting to lame G'n'R references.
The Ugly: Motioned blurred, oncoming busses.