Burnout Paradise

Born free and Para-dicing with death...

This might only be the second sampling of Burnout on 360 but the best change is obvious - all the menus have gone. They had been the game's punctuation, appearing after each jolt, each adrenal gland gush, and each somersault with crash barrier slide, the mood-shattering cold turkey in a sandwich of bent steel.

Their departure is the first big surprise of our demo. After all we all expect - no, we demand - the kind of particle-thrusted chassis acrobatics that Paradise now delivers. So when your muscle car demonstrates another twenty new and interesting ways to eviscerate and immolate itself, we've all already mentally ticked that 'gorgeous next gen carnage' box.
Instead it's the freeroaming, lap-less, limitless structure that makes Paradise feel different.


Because, rather than Test Drive Unlimited's segmented, sedate commuting or the way that NFS fed and led you like a lab rat in a metropolitan maze, here you slip seamlessly, almost unnoticeably between the on and the offline, between the renamed Crash junctions and the fluidity of the Freeburn option.

Another day in paradise
The system, and each of the 30 square miles of fictional streets, is built around what are called the 'Road Rules'. Displayed at the traffic lights on every street, these stat-tracking screens reveal in real-time what has been achieved here and what's yet to be unlocked.

By pulling in all the scores, crashes and times from your friends as well as your own Achievements, this is your route to the orthodox eight-player races both online and off. No loading, no pauses and no lobbies - just offer a challenge and you're online.
Gone too are the pre-set ramps and targeted traffic of the Crash junctions. Instead the Showtime option changes every corner and contraflow into a crumple zone.

All it takes is a stab of LB and RB as your car crunches into the columns of commuters. And you can notch up the bodywork count for as long as your car has momentum - the score keeps rolling. With the multiplier icons now tagged onto certain target cars too, it already looks like a more pleasing method than the old (and really too easy) Crashbreaker system.

Paradise doesn't look like being a revolution for Burnout, more of a liberation. Yes, the crashes are stunning, but there's more to Paradise than mere visual impact. No longer do markers limit where you go, you have a map instead. And there's more: petrol stations will sell you boost, paint shops will re-spray your machine, and there's even a handbrake. How's that for next gen gameplay?