So who started messing around with the Burnout franchise? For four games up to this point, it’s proven to be the finest action-packed arcade racer on the market.
Blistering collisions. Bracing speed. Tremendous, exhilarating and without peer, Burnout games have built up – deservedly – a huge fanbase. It’s fair to say those fans were salivating for Burnout Paradise, the first game to take advantage of the power of the Xbox 360 and Playstation 3.
Sadly, developers Criterion had been playing Need For Speed while the fans were waiting for the new game. Having clearly played the more open rival NFS games, and perhaps been blinded by that franchise’s regular spot at the top of the bestseller charts every Christmas, the Burnout team decided to make a fundamental change. And instead of Burnout Paradise working through a menu system that allows you to pick and choose at will which unlocked events to play, now you have to drive around an open city and discover them.
Hmm. That’s not a good start. Further problems ensue when you realise that you need to look after your car between events, perhaps even driving to a repair shop to get it fixed up. You then get the bizarre sight of your car stopping at a pedestrian crossing in a Burnout game, the same franchise that’s encouraged you to relentlessly disregard anything in the way of a traffic law for four straight games.
The events themselves have changed, too. No more do you drive around concentrated tracks, for instance. You’re motoring around the open city, and need to pay attention to the map in the corner of the screen and the directional clues that alert you at the top of the screen.
No huge arrows here, and it diverts your attention away from the action at a point where you should be enjoying the game the most. What’s more, you need to win an event to complete it now, and if you don’t, you have to drive back to the start line to give it another go.
Who in their right mind thought all of that was any kind of improvement? Bluntly, they broke Burnout.
And that’s a pity, because the key game, once you’ve adjusted to the new way that it does business, is borderline brilliant. The varied events, the action and the sheer speed of Burnout Paradise is the proverbial joy to behold, an astounding carnival of arcade racing.
But here’s the thing: working under the new structure really dampens the fun, and soon made us hunt down our copy of Burnout 3, which allows you access to the fun without all the faff.
Burnout Paradise is still worth the effort, that much is definite. But it’s not without some self-made problems that really shouldn’t be there. It loses some of the pick-up-and-play accessibility as a result, and that’s a real disappointment. Let’s hope the next Burnout game puts these wrongs right.
Company: Electronic Arts