The debate of whether racing games were better in the past than they are now is one that's difficult to settle. However, both the modern and previous eras both boast some true greats of gaming. When we talk about the PlayStation 2 generation, several classics standout. These include Need for Speed, Midnight Club, and Gran Turismo 3 and 4.
There is one though, that perhaps rises above all others, and its name is Burnout. Burnout was one of the best arcade racing series ever, maybe even the best. There hasn't been a new Burnout game in over a decade though, so what happened? Are we likely to see a revival? We've got everything you need to know right here!
The original Burnout game was a breath of fresh air for racing games. Gran Turismo had created the racing simulator in the original PlayStation era, but Burnout had done something similar for arcade racers. Burnout didn't create the arcade racer, but it did revolutionise it and help define this generation of racing video games.
Burnout brought racing to the streets, and the big difference here was that the cars and trucks you'd see in real life were still there. Burnout also introduced the boost system, which earned you what was effectively nitrous for driving dangerously without making contact.
The was a big change in the formula that we were used to from arcade racers at the time. Games like Ridge Racer, Gran Turismo, and were focused solely on racing during this time. Even Need for Speed, which would later become synonymous with street racing, was more like Gran Turismo than you'd expect.
Burnout 2: Point of Impact, was released just a year after Burnout, and took crashing and boost to a new level. Criterion were making a name for themselves, so much so, that EA bought the British developers after Burnout 2's success.
Ending on a high
Burnout 3: Takedown was the first game in the series released with EA as distributors. With the increased budget brought by the American giant, Burnout 3 took the series to heights nobody could've imagined. We've waxed lyrical about Burnout 3 many times in the past, and anybody that played this game will know why.
Burnout 3 was as close to arcade racing perfection as you could get. The action was on-point, graphics were top-notch, and it had loads of content. Most of all though, it was just fun, thanks in part to the Takedown mechanic which would once again revolutionise the arcade racing genre. This was long before the days of Wreckfest and was truly innovative.
Burnout Revenge and Dominator would follow 3. These were good games in their own right, but what really sent the series out on a high was Burnout Paradise. Paradise was Burnout's debut on the PlayStation 3, and it showed, as the graphics still hold up over a decade later.
Paradise was the first open-world Burnout game too, and made full use of the PS3's online capabilities. The world was huge as well, as expansive as some of the largest at the time. This was further taken advantage of too, when motorbikes and other post-release expansions became available.
What happened to Burnout?
Like the name suggests, Burnout burned bright and hot, but was extinguished just seven years after the original game's release. To this day, Burnout is still popular, as proven by dedicated fans like the one that recreated the Burnout 3 trailer in Grand Theft Auto V.
The question that many of you will be asking is "why?". After all, sales were excellent, as were the reviews from both fans and critics. Well, ironically, the answer most likely lies with the reason behind their success, EA.
After Paradise, Criterion were brought on to develop another one of EA's racing series, Need for Speed. Need for Speed Hot Pursuit was the highlight of this, but Criterion also helped develop other EA games such as Battlefield and Star Wars Battlefront.
With that, there was no time for the small studio to focus on Burnout. However, we did get a remaster of Burnout Paradise to celebrate its tenth anniversary back in 2018.
What a revived Burnout would look like on PS5
There's no getting around it, Burnout needs a revival if EA are to ever be the top dogs of arcade racers once again. The question is though, are we likely to see this happen? Well, there have sadly been no rumours of a revamp, despite the remaster of Paradise.
Criterion are currently working on the new Need for Speed game, which is set to release later this year. While NFS is a series which has had some amazing games, the series has arguably had its time in the sun. Plus, Codemasters are rumoured to be helping Criterion with NFS, so perhaps Criterion could be released from this project early.
If we're being honest, we don't see a brand-new Burnout game being made, that ship has likely sailed. In some ways, that's a good thing, because a sub-par release could tarnish Burnout's legacy. Take Crazy Taxi for example, which a revival was attempted last year with Taxi Chaos. The less said about that game, the better.
Burnout 3's twentieth anniversary is coming up in 2024, and while that's a way off, how good would it be to have a ground-up remastered original Burnout trilogy on PS5? Imagine playing Burnout 3 in 4K, at 60 frames per second and with no loading times.
Paradise shouldn't be forgotten about either, and if anything will convince EA to give this a revamp, it's the success of Forza Horizon. Horizon is both an arcade racer and also an open-world experience, sound familiar? The Forza games are also an Xbox and PC exclusive, meaning that PlayStation is an untapped market for this sub-genre.
We've hypothesised about Gran Turismo releasing an open-world game for PS5, but that's still a long way off. EA have a golden opportunity to get there first, but will they take it?
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