|System: PS3, X360||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Criterion Games||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: EA Games||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Jan. 22, 2007||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1-2||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Everyone 10+||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by Amanda L. Kondolojy
Burnout has been one of the most successful vehicular franchises since it's induction in 2001 on the PlayStation 2. It's one of the rare series that was able to retain the same formula that it gave us nearly seven incarnations ago. However, it's made enough steady improvements over the years to keep itself fresh and updated. Now the Burnout franchise returns to the Xbox 360 and the PlayStation 3 with its newest entry, tentatively titled "Burnout Paradise"
With it's newest title, the Burnout franchise looks to rework some of the subtleties that they think will make for a more intense gaming experience. One facet they're really focusing on is expanding the environment. Subtle details seem to be the name of the game when reworking games for more powerful systems, and while there weren't too many complaints with the environment in last year's Burnout Revenge for the Xbox 360, there was still a good amount of untapped potential. Burnout Paradise wants to expand on two key figures of the racing environment: their track system and the look of their environments.
Their first major area of improvement, the track system, looks to revise their usual formula of selecting tracks without much variance, to a completely open racing system that gets rid of walls and barriers, and lets the user choose from a number of different streets to reach the ultimate goal. This will serve to make each gaming experience unique, and allow for a deeper exploration of track areas than was possible in the earlier Burnout series. The open environment system has also allowed the developers to get rid of the menu system to select missions, and instead allows the player to cruise around their world and select missions from different areas of the world (much like the system used in this year's Test Drive Unlimited).
Besides the more open track system, the makers of Burnout Paradise are also looking to take the realism of the environments to the next level. Game designers have been visiting several tourist locales such as the Hoover Dam and Tokyo to try and capture a realistic local flair to each course. Their goal is to really create the most realistic experience possible for the smash-and-crash fun that the Burnout series has become so notorious for.
Another way that Burnout Paradise is trying to add some realism to its game is by upping the amount of crashable parts to it's roster of vehicles. Instead of twelve crashable parts, which was the maximum number before, you now have a total of 80 crashable parts. That's right, 80. This little detail will make for some truly explosive (in the most literal sense of the word) takedowns. Cars will crash and burn in the most horrifying and amazingly detail possible. Of course this may rattle the ratings system (I wouldn't be surprised if this facet alone gets this game a "Mature" rating), but for all those crash and burn junkies out there, this is a real selling point.
Burnout Paradise will also implement a new "driver's license" system. Of course, this driver's license won't penalize you for driving recklessly and crashing, but instead rewards you for it. Upgrading your license will be the key to unlocking new missions and cars, so if you didn't have enough motivation to employ your manic driving skillz before, here's the bait.
And even though I've named enough new and improved features to make any Burnout aficionado's little heart beat about double-pace, I haven't even gotten to the most overhauled portion of the game yet. The sound. Burnout games have always had a reputation for having superior sound in their games. But the folks over at Criterion have taken several steps to overhaul their already wonderful sound department.
Of course you'll get an all-new assortment of drive tunes that'll include some hip-hop, some punk, classic, and alternative rock. But now, instead of just hearing some falling shrapnel as you take down your foes, you'll hear over 1,000 unique audio tracks to go with it. And they won't be random or homogenized, either. There's a sound A.I. that will be able to analyze point and force of impact to create the most exhilarating orchestra of crash sounds for each specific takedown. And they won't be just different variations of glass shattering and brakes squealing, there are also some non-traditional sounds, like the sound of panther growling. Don't quite know how that'll work into the sound scheme, but it sounds cool anyways. This type of sound engineering is going to produce some pretty amazing audio for this game, and it's a pretty exciting feat in game audiography on the whole.
So it looks like Burnout Paradise is really breaking out of its shell and doing all it can do to deliver crash-hungry fans something that they can really sink their teeth into. Keep your eyes peeled for a review when August rolls around to see if all the new features add up to a truly great game!
Amanda L. Kondolojy
CCC Freelance Writer