Burnout is a car 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 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 PS3 and Windows PC, 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.
Automatic New Game: Burnout Paradise drops you straight into an unskippable intro FMV, then into the city in your first car. Like Grand Theft Auto, it also auto-loads your most recent autosave if one is found.
Badass Adorable: The Toy cars in Paradise. They are tiny little versions of existing cars in the game. They can take on the bigger cars just as easily as their bigger counterparts. Wrecking them via a crash is virtually impossible in some cases.
Benevolent Architecture: Ramps everywhere, highways with gaps in the walls, a rail system that is never used and seems to exist solely as a shortcut... Paradise City has it all. It's even lampshaded by the game's DJ, who every so often thanks the "lazy Public Works Department" for not fixing the bridges and highways.
Not to mention that almost all of the shortcuts are laid out in such a way that they can be navigated both forwards and backwards, like they were deliberately intended to be taken in either direction.
Continuity Nod: All the place names in Burnout Paradise are taken from earlier games in the series.
The Computer Is a Cheating Bastard: Paradise. When you move from a B license to an A license, your car quite suddenly handles like a brick of depleted uranium with tires made of snot, and yet is apparently made of wet tissue, for how easily you get wrecked.
The same goes with 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.
The horrible rubber band AI during Marked Man should also get a mention.
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.
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.
Development Gag: Atomika mentions that Paradise City used to have an airport off the waterfront, which apparently sank in a freak storm. This refers to a beta map◊ which had an airport off the Waterfront, before South Paradise and the airport were culled a little into development, and eventually replaced by Big Surf Island.
Downloadable Content: Burnout Paradise has had a ton. There's been over twenty new cars, motorcycles, and an entire island.
For point of reference, the game first came out in January 2008. It continued getting DLC all the way through June of 2009, and only the more recent expansions had Criterion making gamers pay cash for it.
This may have been because there was a bit of Obvious Beta going on here, and everything released for free was probably meant to be in the vanilla game. Google the whole debacle about not being to reset races on the fly for an example of this.
Dumbass DJ: Stryker in the third game, and arguably Atomika in Paradise.
The Flat Out 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.
Need for Speed: Most Wanted (2012) is essentially Burnout Paradise 2. Also made 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.
Loads and Loads of Loading: Note to Criterion: When it takes over 5 seconds to load every car you so much as put the cursor over in the Junkyard in Burnout Paradise, your dynamic loading isn't working very well. Even worse is that it takes just as long to load a different paint job. Thankfully, the rest of the game is much better about this.
In fact, Criterion's initial goal with Paradise was to avert this as much as they could, which is why the idea of restarts and "warp-to" functions were not included (as they would generate a load time). Later on restarts were added to the game (and their load times are not bad).
Mighty Glacier: The other half of the aggression-style cars. The Carson Inferno Van and Hunter Takedown 4X4 are the two slowest cars in terms of acceleration and top speed, and also the two heaviest. Useless in races or stunt runs, near-godlike in Marked Man or Road Rage events.
Nerf: Paradise after one of the patches. No longer could one have an unlimited timer in road rage. The timer now stops counting up after you hit the takedown target.
Also, in another patch the beginner cars were made slower for more inexperienced drivers, and most of the previously awesome cars (like the Hunter Manhattan, an extremely useful all-around car found early on) had their stats whittled down a few nothces.
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 face 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.
Obvious Beta: The original release of Paradise. The Ultimate Box version was supposed to be the intended product, and includes bikes, weather, an in-game clock, and several features they couldn't finish on time. That said, the unpatched/updated version plays fine with no game-breaking bugs, making The Ultimate Box a Burnout Paradise: Director's Cut if anything.
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.
Only a Flesh Wound: In Paradise. Your car can crash, flip, have the roof crushed, dented, bruised and otherwise wrecked...but your car can still keep on revving. These are called Drive-Aways
The neat thing is that Criterion didn't even get the rights to the song initially, despite how good a choice it would be. It was only confirmed later that they secured the rights to it. The game also has its own theme song ("Burnout Paradise Theme"), which is an updated spin on the Burnout 2 theme.
Sequel Difficulty Drop: Paradise is this to Revenge. Unless you were only going for Bronze medals, Revenge could get pretty damn hard (especially the Burning Routes, where if you wrecked even once you could kiss that Gold medal goodbye). Paradise's Burning Routes, on the other hand, can easily be finished with over 30 seconds to spare if you drive well enough. Most of the events are an absolute cakewalk for most of the game, and the challenge seems to come from simply not missing a turn and going the wrong way. The game does start to get some of its edge back when you're going for the Burnout Elite license, but even then it's not as hard as Revenge. This could have something to do with the fact that there's no medals in Paradise; Just one target that you either pass or you don't.
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.
Slo-Mo Big Air: Whenever you hit one of the specially marked jumps. Which gets annoying and then just stupid after you hit one at 20 mph, or reverse into one, or hit one at such an angle that the slo-mo highlights your car smashing bumper-first into a cliff or falling into a ravine, etc.
Wide Open Sandbox: Burnout Paradise makes the actual races work with the "go anywhere" feature still on. Your car's blinkers and the flashing signs at the top of the screen indicate recommended turns, but knowledge of the streets is still necessary to accomplish anything.