Burnout Paradise (2008)
Criterion always knew that crashing and smashing was at least as enjoyable as racing. The earlier Burnout games took place on linear tracks and were primarily about getting from start to finish faster than everybody else, but you were encouraged to drive aggressively and collisions were par for the course. Paradise transplanted the racing and the crashing to an open world city, and in doing so found the perfect form for vehicular action.
John: I don’t really care that much about driving games, but goodness me, Burnout Paradise is one of my all-time favourites, and the game I’ve bought the most often on multiple formats. I think, in the end, it’s not really a driving game at all. I think it’s an open-world third-person action game, where you play a car.
The game is replete with flaws, but fortunately (and unfortunately) most of them occur in the opening hour. There’s the glacial opening where you’re forced to sit through a miserably boring and unhelpful intro sequence, there’s bloody DJ Atomica, there’s endless interruptions as it tells you things you already know when you just want to smash stuff, and there’s the incessant repetition of Guns n Roses’ Paradise City, a song I have grown to deeply loathe. Oh, and all the menus are garbage.
And yet. And yet, what a game it is, what a joy once you’re past all that awfulness and just set free to smash yellow fences and red advertising, drive enormous races, explore in the hills, and chase down evil enemy cars until they’re dead. It was a prototype for the map-of-icons that became too ubiquitous since, but delivered it so splendidly, so relentlessly, and nothing that’s mimicked it since has managed to recapture its glory.
Graham: I agree with everything John just said, which is terrifying.
Adam: I don’t have much to add on the subject of Burnout Paradise, though I love it dearly, but I just wanted to say that my favourite Person In A Fast Car game is probably FlatOut. And after that it’s probably Carmageddon 2. That probably means I shouldn’t be allowed to have all that many opinions about racing games, doesn’t it?