Hard to believe but it’s now the fifth anniversary since the last Burnout game was released so to mark the occasion I decided to do a Burnout Retrospective. Not long ago Alex Ward, one of the leads at Criterion Games, asked on his Twitter account that IF a Burnout Paradise 2 were to happen, what would fans like to see in the game? I quickly got to work on a small feature with my thoughts but sadly it was more of a “fifth anniversary question” rather than “we’re working on a new entry in the series”.
It’s not the end of the world as I decided to rework what I had into a small editorial which looks back on the Burnout series and my experiences with it. The Burnout games are some of my favourites games and I’ve grown to have a real attachment to the series, there’s games that you enjoy and then games that you defend harder than than developers themselves. The Burnout series falls into the latter for me, it’s always been a technical marvel whilst never forgetting that games are supposed to be fun.
My introduction with Burnout started with the first game in the series, I didn’t even take notice of it when it launched on the PS2. For that generation I decided I wanted a GameCube so once I got bored of it’s launch games like Luigi’s Mansion and Wave Race Blue Storm I started looking for other stuff to play on my new GameCube. I already had Super Smash Bros Melee by now so I was just looking for something else to play on my GameCube when/if Melee ever left the disc tray.
Initially Burnout did nothing for me, boring bland cover and the Acclaim logo on it which as a kid I knew usually meant average to awful game. I got Burnout and had a fun time with it, didn’t blow my mind or anything but it was a enjoyable fun arcade style racer with some cool crashes. In fact that’s all I remember about it, the game with some cool crashes.
I’d love to write more about the original Burnout but it never really meant much to me, it was a title that I played and quickly moved on to the next thing. Burnout was okay but sometimes you need a base in order to have a sequel build on it.
Burnout 2 Point of Impact
Whilst I enjoyed the original Burnout it was pretty much a game I only played because I wanted something for my new GameCube. By the time Burnout 2 came I didn’t care but slowly something started to happen, magazines were scoring this game in the 90′s so I took notice. I was in a shop once and saw the case for Burnout 2 which looked far more interesting than the bland cover of the first game so I decided get the series another go.
Once I picked up Burnout 2 I was BLOWN AWAY, this game had an edge to it that the first never did. It was fast, exciting, the graphics looked great, the music dynamically changed whenever you boosted and it even had a “cops n robbers” mode that I loved playing with my brother. There was also the LEGENDARY crash mode, the crashes in Burnout 2 were so great that they had their own mode and in my opinion it’s STILL the best crash mode in the series due to the simplicity of it.
This was it, the game that made me both a Criterion and Burnout fan. At the time most of the attention was on Gran Turismo 3 but I knew I had found something special in Burnout 2. What made it even better was that I managed to get a few of my friends to take notice too and before long everyone I knew was a Burnout fan.
Burnout 3 Takedown
Burnout 2 was so awesome that I couldn’t wait to play the sequel on my GameCube, I was seriously pumped but the damn game never came out on the GameCube. It was during this time that support for the GameCube was dropping in favour of the PS2 & Xbox due to poor sales, Burnout 3 Takedown was the first title to make me consider buying a second console. My fanboy heart at the time refused to give in so I dismissed the game, whatever I don’t need Burnout, screw them.
I later got the chance to play Burnout 3 at an event before it launched, I can’t remember the name of the event but it basically like a Euro Gamer Expo back in 2004. My friend said the game was awesome and I told him “It’s not THAT good even though I loved it more than he did. The final straw came when I went to my cousin’s house and he had Burnout 3, he picked an INSANELY fast F1 car that was LOUD as hell and that was the final straw. I HAD to buy a PS2 and a copy of Burnout 3.
Burnout 3 much like Burnout 2 was a massive leap for the series, it looked even better, it was faster , it introduced takedowns and even after touches to steer your wreck around after crashing. To many Burnout 3 is the best in the series to date but I disagree, I feel that something was lost along the way. I hated the switch to licensed music, I hated what they did to crash mode, hated the removal of boost chaining and the takedown mechanic made the game feel like the emphasis was on combat rather than racing. Burnout 2 rewarded driving skills, Burnout 3 rewarded carnage so it’s down to what type of style you prefer.
No matter if you’re a “Burnout 2 guy” or a “Burnout 3″ there’s no denying that Takedown was and still is one of the greatest racing game ever made.
By now Burnout was a big name within the games industry, everyone knew the series and those who didn’t only needed five minutes with it to be sold. Burnout Revenge perhaps represents the the smallest jump the Burnout games have seen, it may sound a bit harsh but it’s basically Burnout 3 plus traffic checking.
Traffic checking in Burnout Revenge was the ability to smash into traffic that is going the same direction as you WHICH further added to all the madness. Some hated the addition but I quiet enjoyed slamming into a car to take down a rival racer but all in all what stood out the most was the level design. Burnout Revenge introduced multiple paths and short-cuts which really opened up the levels instead of having everyone race on the same path.
Burnout Revenge was also one of the few times I dared take my PS2 online, it was actually rather good fun as online still wasn’t a standard by then. All in all many prefer Burnout 3 but I’m one of the few that actually prefers Revenge thanks to the level design with alternate routes, it simply felt like a more well designed game than Takedown was.
The Burnout series eventually made the jump to handhelds in the form of Burnout Legends for the PSP. This little game blew minds when it was first revealed as no one could believe that a handheld was capable of delivering the full Burnout experience on the go. I was more interested in the Nintendo DS for the innovation it brought to gaming but Burnout Legends made me a PSP believer.
Burnout Legends was a remixed edition of the first three Burnout games and featured gameplay close to that of Burnout 3. It didn’t really bring anything new to the series but that wasn’t the aim, Burnout was on a handheld and next to nothing was lost in the transition. Well they dropped the frame rate to 30 but it was still an impressive show piece for the PSP.
There’s a horrible DS version of Burnout Legends which we won’t get into, Criterion had nothing to do with it anyway.
After the success of Burnout Legends & Revenge EA wanted to give the whole Burnout thing one last shot on the PS2 and PSP before Criterion delivered the next entry in the series. Up until this point Burnout 2 was my favourite so I was extremely excited to hear that Domintor was going to be more like that game and bring back boost chaining, finally a proper sequel to Burnout 2 with long bends perfect for drifting.
For one reason or another whilst Burnout Dominator is far from being a bad game it did leave me feeling empty. On paper it’s the game I wanted yet in reality it the was the worst Burnout game since the original. So what happened?
Dominator brings up an interesting point, the reason I can play a million Burnout games and never get bored is because each game brings something new to the series to keep it fresh. Whether you like the changes or not you can’t deny that at least it keeps the series fresh. Burnout Dominator brought nothing new and I just felt like I had been here and done this already.
Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to Burnout Paradise, one of THE games that had me seriously excited about buying a PS3 or Xbox 360. More so than any other Burnout title before it this one really divided fans causing a love it/hate it reaction whenever the game is mentioned due to the open world structure the series took on. My name is Xavier Perez and I am a Burnout Paradise SUPPORTER.
I have spent more time in Paradise city than I ever did in all the previous Burnout titles combined currently approaching over 90 hours played. One of the things that Paradise did amazingly well was get rid of menus, everything you want to do is done in game with no load times in sight. Races are as simple as racing up to a set of traffic lights and holding both triggers for a second. Going online is simply a matter of bringing up the mini menu and joining a room which is completely seamless and never dares to take you out of the experience.
Races in Burnout Paradise is where the hate is normally centred around, the game tells you a destination to reach but isn’t too bothered about how you get there. Players found themselves crashing quite a bit as they kept looking at the mini map instead of the road, Paradise was simply too fast a game to be working out routes on the fly.
Sadly the races aspect of Paradise is what players tend to focus on and they ignore everything else that the game does so well. It’s just simply a lot of fun racing around Paradise city exploring, finding new events, breaking billboards or just relaxing with some online challenges with some friends. The game features THE BEST post game support I’ve ever seen on console with with sorts of tweaks, improvements and additions in it’s numerous updates.
Burnout Paradise is simply too big for me to explain, this entire post could just be about Burnout Paradise and we wouldn’t even scratch the surface. The game has it’s haters and I understand where they are coming from but I feel they are focusing too much on one compliant rather than looking at the game as a whole. Burnout Paradise is THE best Burnout game in my opinion and some of the most fun I’ve had this generation.
This is basically what kicked off this editorial, the possibility of a Burnout Paradise 2. Well as you all know, Criterion Games now work on the Need for Speed series, ever noticed how those games stopped sucking? Yeah you can thank Criterion for that. To date they’ve released Hot Pursuit and Most Wanted to great success both critically and financially, if you’ve not played them yet then I urge you to give them a try.
I don’t mean to speak for Criterion Games here but I feel the reason we’ve not seen a new Burnout game is simply down to one question.
How do we top Burnout Paradise?
The “easy” answer is “GO BACK TO THE BURNOUT 3 STYLE” but in reality all you’re asking for is another Burnout Dominator problem. Just look at the series as a whole, does it look like Criterion are the ones to develop something we’ve seen before?
Going back to anything pre-Paradise is simply too much of a step back, answering “bring back crash mode” isn’t exactly going to jump start a new Burnout game. Burnout Paradise love it or hate it was the game that’s basically impossible to follow up, it’s been five years since it launched and I barely have any solid ideas on where the series could go next.
Will we see a Burnout Paradise 2 someday? I’m sure we will but I don’t see it happening until Criterion have some great ideas and concepts brainstormed. If I know Criterion then the last thing they want to do is Burnout Paradise 1.5.