E3 - Burnout preview reveals game worth the wait

It's been a long wait for the next Burnout, but it won't have been for nothing. Burnout Paradise, the first Burnout game made exclusively for the PS3 and Xbox 360, is for the most part living up to my expectations.

I'm not a huge racing game fan, and that's probably why I like Burnout so much. The series has feels more like an action game than any car game I've ever played. I've loved each Burnout game of yore, with the high point being Burnout 3: Takedown. Why? It was the most substantial jump in the series, taking crash racing to a new level while including the best Crash mode yet. But the game that followed, Burnout: Revenge, didn't really do much different and also took a step back in the Crash department.

But this time, things are different.

Burnout Paradise is completely different from the direction I expected developer Criterion to take. In Paradise, you'll be doing everything through an interactive city -- Paradise City to be exact.

If Criterion's vision of Paradise City and the way the play interacts with it comes to fruition, it'll be a triumphant feat.

At E3 we jumped right into Paradise City and took our ride for a spin. It's different than other Burnout games in that there's really no menu system at all. You trigger races, takedown challenges, crashes and other events simply by pulling up to stoplights and other context sensitive areas in the city.

You can trigger races and other events at traffic lights.

You can trigger races and other events at traffic lights.

And there aren't set track, per se. You will be lead through the track paths but, like GTA, you have to learn the city to really take advantage of the game.

Everything is very interactive, too. Gas stations will give you boosts and there are tons of hidden paths and shortcuts to gain a little advantage on your opponents. And it's the fastest Burnout yet, churning out the most visually impressive racing experience out there.

The way online multiplayer works is incredibly different, for the better. There are no lobbies, no menus and no waiting around. When you want to play with a friend(s) while cruising around the city, just join his/her game invite and you automatically pop into online play in a seamless transition.

There is even camera support that snaps a quick picture of you when you're taken out by an opponent, just so everyone can see the face you make when you're getting reamed. Very cool.