It’s been 10 years since the release of Criterion’s first foray into the Need for Speed franchise with Hot Pursuit, a remake of the third entry in the series that catapulted the franchise into a household name. Oddly enough, I remember that night opening up my copy of the first highly anticipated Need for Speed game in years. It wasn’t my home, but I remember the room, I remember the TV I played it on and I remember the chills I got when the intro splash screen booted up. Those same chills returned as I stared down the splash screen for Need for Speed Hot Pursuit Remastered. The team at Criterion and Stellar Entertainment did a great job and gave me one more ride down memory lane, top-down, and flying by the seat of my pants.
Burnout Paradise is unquestionably one of the best racing games at all time. It may not be everybody’s favorite Burnout game, but it certainly is my favorite, and it is undeniable that Burnout Paradise revolutionized the casual/arcade racing genre, and important groundwork that many racing games in multiple sub genres are still built on today. You can see Paradise‘s DNA in everything from Need for Speed to Forza Horizon to the DiRT series and well beyond. It was a drastically influential game that had a lasting impact on the design of racing games. It also happens to be an absolute blast to play and sports some of the most incredibly cohesive game design I’ve seen; the car handling, world design, art direction, extra objectives, event types, and even the soundtrack choices all work in tandem to create a thrilling, raucous playground. Burnout Paradise is the rare game where every single aspect sings together in beautiful harmony, and it creates an impactful, joyful experience that still feels exciting and unbelievably fun to play today. It is in many ways a masterpiece, showcasing how strong video games can be not as art, but as sources of pure entertainment and glee, which frankly is something of an artistic achievement in its own right.