Burnout 5

Faster. Harder. Bigger. Crashier.

Much like its strangely, disturbingly driver-less protagonists, Burnout doesn't stay still for long. Plotting a line from Burnout to Burnout Revenge, no two games are alike, and Criterion clearly take great pleasure in playing around with their flagship franchise. But even as a release date nears, we can take a few facts away from the scraplets of definite information we know.

Such as the concept trailers and art, which show a sports car smashing clean through a lorry - splitting the car in half. The impressive sequence sees the frame fill with shards of supercar, each fragment more expensive than your house, clearly backing up Criterion's claim that the collisions will be more dramatic on the first Burnout to be built from the ground up for 360. In fact, rent-a-quote designer Alex Ward highlighted the differences in a recent interview, stating that while in Burnout Revenge the cars were comprised of twelve separates pieces, in Burnout 5, there will be over 80.

What else do we know? It's big. Although Criterion are shying away from comparisons, we know that Burnout 5 will be in part structured like the Need For Speed series, with a free-roaming city to explore in between competitions, choc-full of crashes-to-be. Listen carefully when Ward claims that Burnout 5 will feature more 'space' than ever before - he's chosen that word very carefully, hinting at vertical gameplay, expanding on the death-defying leaps that bleached your knuckles real nice in Revenge.

We can work things out without being told, as well. A cursory look at the Xbox 360 version of Burnout Revenge - which Criterion insist was NOT a port - gives us insight as to how Burnout 5 will use the hardware. The way Revenge was redesigned around the concept of online takedown streaks and the breeding of online 'grudges' demonstrates that Criterion has taken to Xbox 360's unified gamertag system like a duck takes to a house made of bread. We expect that this concept will be ramped up considerably online, with city-long chases, everyone scrambling to be the one to get that decisive takedown.

Finally, what can we learn from Burnout Dominator, the PlayStation 2 and PSP exclusive scheduled for early this very year? Apparently it's a return to the series' original roots on PS2 - that is, with the emphasis on actually avoiding horrific crashes rather than initiating them. We'll be watching it closely for further clues. Oh yes.