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Friday, February 15, 2008

Anyone who has played a Burnout game knows the addictive nature of the high-octane racing series, which pits cars and environments against each other in a smorgasbord of outlandish crashes in high definition. Burnout Paradise raises the bar by seamlessly blending a robust offline game experience with plenty of online multi-player challenges.

The open world of Paradise City includes warehouses, suburbs, downtown streets and shipyards. It has many shortcuts to discover, billboards to crash through and buildings to jump off of. The city, inspired by such metropolises as Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Boston and Chicago, acts as the game's hub. (Every street junction is based on Google Earth data.) Challenges include owning the road's best time and performing the ultimate multi-car crash. Once a racer holds the record, it remains until the next online challenger beats it. That gives the game an endless array of user-generated challenges.

Anyone with a PlayStation 3 Eye or a Xbox 360 Live Vision camera will get an even greater sense of ownership when they total another driver's car. A digital snapshot of that driver is taken at the moment of the wreck and immediately appears in the game.

Although it's fun to drive through the streets crashing into opponents, the game has plenty of depth. Driver's licenses can be upgraded, unlocking new vehicles and power-ups. As many as eight players can race online in numerous challenges.

Burnout Paradise is the franchise's most addictive title yet.

-- John Gaudiosi

Burnout Paradise Everyone 10+; PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 ($60) Electronic Arts/Criterion Burnout Paradise Everyone 10+; PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 ($60) Electronic Arts/Criterion


© 2008 The Washington Post Company

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