Burnout is changing - majorly. The simplistic racing game with the crashes is becoming something much more ambitious this time around: Burnout Paradise. Set in Paradise City, a fictional burg you can explore freely at your leisure, the game keeps hold of the high-speed racing and brutal crashing of the predecessors while adding crunchy new next generation technology to make it worth it.
The main challenge the team seems to have addressed is how to make free-roaming racing not boring. Let's face it: driving and hunting for races is tedious. In Burnout Paradise, every stoplight is a potential race (according to developer Alex Ward, anyway, though we did have to go hunting for a specific light to find a working race in this early version of the game.) Pull up, hit L2 + R2 to join up, rev up, and go. Forget the big red arrows and walls of other city racers that keep you on track: it's down to your mini map and your knowledge of the city streets to make it from point A to point B in the fastest way possible. Do it how you like.
More impressive than that, even, is the seamless integration of the online play into the single-player game. The worst thing about online gaming (well, worst after the screaming idiots you'll inevitably encounter) is the fact that you have to sit around in lobbies hunting for an online game to play when you should have been racing for the past half an hour. In Burnout Paradise, there's no lobby - online racing is as simple as offline, and if you get an invitation to an online race from a buddy, you're there - instantly.