Burnout Paradise is the fifth game in the main Burnout racing video game series and seventh overall. It was developed by Criterion Games and published by Electronic Arts. It was released in January 2008 for PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 and on 5 February 2009 for Microsoft Windows. It was also released on the PlayStation Store in September 2008 and via Xbox Live Marketplace's Games on Demand 25 August 2009. It was later added to the libraries of Greatest Hits and Platinum Hits titles.
Paradise's gameplay is set in the fictional "Paradise City", an open world in which players can compete in several types of races. Players can also compete online, which includes additional game modes, such as "Cops and Robbers". Several free game updates introduce new features such as a time-of-day cycle and motorcycles. The game also features paid downloadable content in the form of new cars and the fictional "Big Surf Island".
The game was received well by critics, with aggregate score sites GameRankings reporting an average score of 88% and Metacritic reporting an average score of 88 out of 100. The game won several awards in 2008, with Spike TV, Gametrailers and GameSpot all awarding it Best Driving Game. Reviewers felt the game had an excellent sense of speed, and praised the open world gameplay, a first for the Burnout series.
Burnout Paradise is set in an open-world environment. Players have the opportunity to progress at their own pace and level; the game, unlike others, is not actually set to a rigid gameplay framework. According to Alex Ward, creative director of the game at developer Criterion Games, this game is a "complete reinvention" of the Burnout series. He also said "To create truly next-generation gameplay, we needed to create a truly next-generation game from the ground up." Initially day and night cycles were not included in the game but a software update entitled "Davis" added this element to the game. For the first time in the series, records are now kept on a player's drivers license, including statistics such as fastest time and biggest crash for every street in the game.
In previous Burnout games, "Crash Mode", was a dedicated mode in which players were given scenarios in which to cause the biggest crash. In Burnout Paradise, "Crash Mode", now called "Showtime", can be initiated at any time and place in the game. Showtime does differ from the previous incarnation of Crash Mode being that instead of crashing into a busy intersection and watching a crash play out, Showtime has you bounce the vehicle around for as long as possible to gain points. During a race players may now take any route to get to the destination. Races and other events are started by simply stopping at any of the traffic lights and applying the accelerator and brake at the same time. The game features the ability to customize race settings, such as traffic, race routes, and including/excluding cars based on their boost types.
Paradise's damage system has also been reworked. There are now two different types of crashes based on the car's condition after the crash. If the player's car manages to retain all four wheels and does not break its chassis the player can drive out of the crash and continue playing; this is called a "driveaway". If a player's car loses any wheels, the engine is damaged too much from an impact, the car lands on its side or roof or lands outside of the game's map, the car is in a "wrecked" state and the player will have to wait until their car is reset. Cars dynamically compress and deform around objects they crash into.
Cars now have manufacturer and model names, which are loosely based on real-world cars. Cars may not be "tuned up" or customized apart from color changes, which may be done in real-time by driving through the forecourt of a paint shop, or by selecting the color during vehicle selection. Other real-time changes include driving through the forecourt of a gas station to automatically refill the vehicle's boost meter, and driving through the forecourt of a repair shop to automatically repair the vehicle.
The online lobby system used by most video games has been replaced by a streamlined system known as "Easy Drive". While driving, players simply hit right on the D-Pad and the 'Easy Drive' menu appears in the corner of their screen. From there, players are able to invite other players from their friends list. Once friends have joined the game, the host can select the event to play. A "Mugshots" camera feature is available for the PC via webcam, PlayStation 3 via a PS3-compatible webcam, and Xbox 360 via Xbox Live Vision. When a player is taken down, their photo, or 'Mugshot', is shown to the aggressor, and vice versa. These photos can then be saved to the PC or console's storage device.