Burnout is a Racing Game series by Criterion Games with "full contact" rules, set on city streets, and usually densely populated streets at that. The older games had fixed tracks with a start line/finish line and some opposing cars. As the games advanced, so did the "contact" part of the game, starting with Crash mode in the second game, and the addition of Takedowns and Road Rage mode in the third. The game is known for being very "fast", with the screen blurring out at extreme speeds and handling becoming this side of impossible. Also known for its spectacular camera views of cars spinning through the sky or crunching under trucks, which is totally fucking sweet.
Burnout (2001): The original. An innovative racer at the time, Burnout placed a focus on stunts and extreme driving (much like Project Gotham Racing, which was released around the same time), and became known for its high speed and its spectacular crashes. The name came from the game's system of Nitro Boost — you can only use boost when your boost bar is filled, and you can chain boost bars together by performing stunts while boosting. Released on PlayStation 2, Xbox, and GameCube, and published by Acclaim Entertainment.
Burnout 2: Point of Impact (2002): The second game in the series. This game introduced Crash mode, a self-explanatory mode where the entire objective can be seen from the initial camera: a) you, b) a short stretch of road, possibly with jumps, and c) a crowded intersection, usually with a tanker truck passing along for additional fun. Simply run in and cause as much damage as possible. Released on the same systems as the original.
Burnout 3: Takedown (2004): This game saw the introduction of the Takedown, which allows you to check other racers into walls or traffic to earn boost and get them out of your way. Along with Takedowns came Road Rage mode, where you have to wreck as many opposing cars as possible before a) the time ran out, or b) you took too much damage. Crash mode was also improved, adding power ups that increased (or decrease) money gained, and added Crashbreakers, which allowed you to blow up your car to do some extra damage. This game was originally planned to be released in 2003, but it was delayed for a year when Acclaim went bankrupt, finally getting picked up by Electronic Arts in 2004. EA would eventually buy Criterion outright, making Burnout a permanent staple of EA for the future. It was a smart move on their part — this game won widespread praise from critics, and it became a major hit, turning Burnout into a Cash Cow Franchise for EA and Criterion into their premier developer of racing games, including at least two installments in the Need for Speed series.note As an aside, Criterion's Need for Speed: Most Wanted in 2012 was affectionately referred to by some (emphasis on "by some") as Need for Speed: Burnout due to its similarities to this series. Released on PlayStation 2 and Xbox (GameCube owners weren't so lucky this time around).
Burnout Revenge (2005): Arguably the most combat-oriented game in the series, Revenge introduced traffic checking, which allowed you to ram through traffic and send it flying at rival racers. Also introduced were Traffic Attack mode, where you must use traffic checking to cause as much damage as possible, and Crashbreakers were carried over to all non-Crash events. Last game in the series for the original Xbox, first game in the series for the Xbox 360 — the Xbox 360 version was released in early 2006.
Burnout Legends (2005): A game released for the PlayStation Portable and the Nintendo DS. It is basically a "best of" collection, featuring tracks from the first three games.
Burnout Dominator (2007): Released for PlayStation 2 and PlayStation Portable, this game was meant to tide fans over before the release of the series' next-gen debut. It returned to the series' roots, bringing back Burnouts (which had disappeared starting with the third game) and getting rid of many modes and features from later games. It was the only game in the series that was not developed by Criterion, as they were busy working on...
Burnout Paradise (2008): The first Burnout game to come out on PlayStation 3 and Microsoft Windows, along with the Xbox 360. This game completely overhauled the series, putting it in a Wide Open Sandbox called Paradise City. Crash mode was replaced with Showtime mode, which allowed players to instantly turn any road into a crash junction in what almost feels like Katamari Damacy with explosions. Takedowns and Road Rage mode returned, but traffic checking could only be done by the heaviest vehicles, and Aftertouch Takedowns were sadly removed. New for the series were Stunt Runs, where players had to rack up points pulling off stunts (essentially a skateboarding game with a car), and Marked Man mode, where you have to get to a destination while being hounded by supercharged armored cars trying to wreck you.
Burnout CRASH! (2011): The first digital-only installment of the series, released on PlayStation Network and Xbox LIVE Arcade. Taking the basics of Crash Mode from previous Burnout installments and expanding it into a full game, CRASH! is a different spin on the Burnout family. CRASH! takes place in "Crash City" and is played from a top-down perspective rather than from behind the car. There is no racing component as the game focuses purely on causing as much destruction as possible. The game features more fantastical elements than the rest of the series, such as UFOs.
Background Music Override: In CRASH!, most Features you've activated play their licensed classic pop song. (e.g. '"It's Raining Men" by The Weather Girls for Thunderstorm; "Dr. Beat" by Gloria Estefan when the Ambulance appears, etc.)
Competitive Balance: All CRASH! car stats are indeed 100% Yin-Yang. Little cars have weak explosions but moves faster, while oversized have giant explosion radius but is sluggish.
Continuity Nod: All the place names in Burnout Paradise are taken from earlier games in the series.
CRASH! did the same with some of the roads, including one for Criterion's Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit.
The Computer Is a Cheating Bastard: Burnout Legends, in which your car seems to be made of glass with the high chances of crashing for some reason. The rivals also blatantly teleport to safety whenever they're about to crash into traffic.
Cool Car: It goes without saying that a game like this would have tons of Cool Cars — unlicensed cars, mind you, but still cool nevertheless.
Cut Song: Like the first two games, 3 originally had music composed for the game, but when Acclaim went bankrupt and the game was picked up by EA, Criterion used licensed tracks instead. However, these songs were incorporated into the soundtrack of Paradise.
Darker and Edgier: Burnout Revenge. The levels are much more "industrial" and dirty, with more dark colors compared to Burnout 3, and the soundtrack is much more harder and raw compared to the rest of the series, in addition to the tracks being more combat oriented and the introduction of Traffic Checking.
Death from Above: One of the most difficult, but arguably most epic ways to take down your opponents is by jumping off a ramp and landing on top of your opponent, dubbed the Vertical Takedown.
Airplane, Asteroid, and UFO in CRASH!
Disaster Movie: Most of each Super Features in CRASH! are likely based on one of these.
The FlatOut series, which is the redneck cousin of Burnout. Their distinguishing feature was "windshield cannons" — that is, if you get in a big crash, you go flying through the windshield. (Wear seatbelts, kids.) There were even mini games where you took advantage of this, throwing your hapless driver at giant bowling pins or trying to hit a target.
Burnout itself is Destruction Derby with intersections and traffic instead of demolition derbies.
Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit is basically Burnout with licensed cars and a major emphasis on police chases. Justified, as it was developed by Criterion.
Driver: San Francisco incorporates a near-copy of Burnout's boosting system, event types, and event selection, worked into more standard Driver-style gameplay and missions. (It was also the first well-received Driver game in years, as they seem to have moved on from unsuccessfully trying to emulate the GTA series.)
Fragile Speedster: Speed-style cars. In particular, every game since 3 has included open-wheel, Formula 1-style race cars as part of the vehicle lineup. Heaven help you if you touch anything when driving these while boosting.
Have a Nice Crash: Whenever you crash, you're treated to a clip of your car spiraling gracefully through the air, shedding metal shards everywhere, frequently in slow motion.
Nitro Boost: You earn this for dangerous driving (drifting, passing close by traffic, driving on the wrong side of the road, etc). Starting in the third game, the boost is also refilled through Takedowns.
Well, maybe not reversing into an unmoving bus at 20 mph...
If you look hard enough, you'll notice that there actually isn't anyone driving at all.
No hard looking required, almost every post-crash camera angle is placed in such a way to make it obvious no one is in the car to keep the game at an E10+ rating.
Even if you're riding a bike in Paradise, which is the only time you get to see a human helmet, the rider disappears the moment it goes into 'crash mode'- no ragdolls here.
Not true in 3. All the cars have drivers equipped with safety gear in them. Even the traffic cars have helmeted drivers wearing fire suits!
Nostalgia Level: Legends takes drivers back to tracks from the first three installments (though it includes only one track from the original game). Also includes throwback cars from the previous games.
Oh, Crap, This Is Gonna Suck: You, the player in any of the games. When your car is blasting through traffic at ludicrous speeds, anything you hit is going to turn your car into a pile of scrap. If you see a wall or traffic coming at you at over 100 mph, this is going to be your reaction.
Signature Move: In Burnout Revenge, you can earn Signature Takedowns for crashing opponents into special places, such as knocking them off the cliff in White Mountain. They often come with a Punny Name such as Takin' Out The Trash. Guess how you get that one.