It seems every racing game is embracing the current generation of consoles by sticking a massive free-roaming world into their previously linear framework, but Burnout Paradise looks truly standout.
Developer Criterion promises the next instalment's sunny island will be both brimming with things to do behind the wheel and incredibly accessible to any type of gamer (it's got no loading and no front-end whatsoever). Oh yeah, there's lots of crashing as well. But we don't want to talk about that.
We recently sat down with Paradise's producer Nick Channon. Here's what he had to say, ahead of our first hands-on impressions.
You've taken a lot more time to develop this Burnout than with previous instalments. What do you think that means for expectations for the game and do you think it'll be able to live up to the hype?
Nick Channon: We've been going for almost two years. The expectation is always going to be high for a Burnout game, we don't get away from that, it doesn't matter how long it's been in development.
The expectation is always huge and actually there's no-one who puts in more expectation than ourselves; we push ourselves massively to make a great game and each one has to be an evolution of the last.
That's why we threw everything away. We started from scratch. There's no code in there that was taken from Revenge, it's all been started from the beginning. To hit those expectations that's what we had to do. To make a truly next-gen product we couldn't be limited by things we did before.
So the first thing was we needed to make sure everything felt right and it played like Burnout, which hopefully you'll agree it does.
Then it gave us the flexibility to do very innovative things; you've seen the online, how easy it is to get online. It's very important to us to make a social game with your friends. We think that's the future of online and what it should be.
And then seamless gameplay. There's no loading, there's no front-end. We really set the bar high - those are the goals we setup from the beginning. You're never taken out of the world and online had to be a huge part of everything we do.
In terms of time and everything, everyone always expects a great Burnout so there's massive pressure anyway.
How have you made sure getting rid of the front-end and menus doesn't make the game less accessible to average gamers?
Channon: Fundamentally the game is Burnout and that really appeals to the hardcore fans and obviously the game gets progressively harder which is going to appeal to them. But I actually think it's more accessible than any Burnout before because you can go and do anything at your pace.
I give my wife as an example. She won't really play games. She quickly comes last and she's like 'what's the point? I'm not going to win'. But with Burnout she can go and explore the world for an hour and get a feel for the car and then go and do an event when she's ready.
That's when the game becomes very accessible because you can go and do events when you're ready and if you're not ready there's loads to do on the side.
So you still get a very rewarding experience but you can make progression at your pace. I think that's very important and that's what makes it even more accessible than the previous games.
Everyone seems to be leading on Xbox 360. Why did you decide to make the PS3 your main SKU for Burnout?
Channon: We've always led on the Sony platforms. Historically at Criterion we've always done that and we didn't want this year to be any different. We've always loved Sony machines and we've loved PS3 from the start, we think it's a fantastic machine. We felt very strongly about that.