Developed by Criterion Games
Now Available for Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3
Car A is traveling east at 120 miles per hour. Car B is traveling west at 140 miles per hour. When will Car A reach Boston?
Answer: never. Car A and Car B collide in an eruption of broken glass and twisted steel, and both drivers are killed instantly—or they would be, if they weren't too busy being amazed at the visceral yet majestic ballet of ruined automobiles that epitomizes the simple fun to be found in Burnout Paradise.
The game does almost everything better than any of its competitors. Like my ex-girlfriend, it combines gorgeous visuals and sexy curves with horrific car crashes, and while it isn't the pinnacle of video-game graphics, it's in the top three of all available racers.
The title's best feature is its online component. Paradise's multiplayer is literally a matter of pressing the same button twice, waiting 15 seconds, then racing against internet foes or working to complete over 200 online co-op challenges—and in hours of game play, neither option gave me a single instance of lag.
On top of the online goals, the single-player game is surprisingly lengthy for a racer. According to the stats Paradise has been tracking for me, I've logged 16 hours in the game, and have completed 45.8 percent of the objectives. While I was originally skeptical of publisher Electronic Arts' claims on how much this disc actually contains, my time spent in Paradise has made me a believer.
Since they'll revoke my official critic's badge if I simply blow kisses at this game, I must add that I'm disappointed with the soundtrack. Overall, it's not terrible, but the best compliment I can offer is that the pop-techno tracks that make up the majority of the soundtrack are just forgettable enough to avoid a mention.
If you don't like racing games, Burnout Paradise won't convert you. Rather, its true strength lies in its ability to take casual racing fans, action gamers, and sports fans and turn them into virtual racing addicts whose only goal in life is snagging another hit of nitrous.