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Friday, September 29, 2023

My roommate loves living life on the edge.

He's defying his parents' wishes and getting a motorcycle, he's decked out in scars from long boarding accidents and he's not afraid to try things that, by some law or another, he shouldn't be trying.

And of course, as any self-respecting 19-year-old knows, the ultimate way to tempt death is to drive very, very fast - something my roommate does extremely well.

Luckily for him, Criterion Games provides a safer alternative to the road with "Burnout Paradise." This latest installment of their arcade racing smash hit, "Burnout," gives my roommate and the rest of us the opportunity to break numerous traffic laws including speeding, driving the wrong way and attempting vehicular manslaughter, all without risking real danger.

Players can expect some differences in this new edition.

Instead of the traditional menu, where the player selects races from a list, you'll be able to race around the entire Paradise City map from the get-go with the objective of getting fancier, faster cars.

Keeping with the theme of seamless game play, Criterion is giving you the ability to start a challenge from almost any red light in the city. The beauty of this change is that you can drive back and forth, hitting your favorite ramp.

Of course, it's not really the racing that has made Burnout the king of arcade-style racing games - it's the crashes.

PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 hardware are put to work, allowing for beautiful, realistic destruction. It is truly satisfying to see your car's paint chip away and its metal frame fold in as you crash into a concrete wall at 120 mph.

And if you're longing for a 150-car pileup, you won't have to search a list of prefabricated crash scenarios.

You can start one wherever you'd like, at anytime you'd like. All you need to do is find a spot that you believe has the potential to cause major destruction. In a phrase, it's customizable chaos.

Some things haven't changed.

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Burnout still is better than most at creating a real sense of speed.

Also, while driving around Paradise City, the near perfect controls still allow me to pull crazy stunts.

Online play, like the rest of the game, is seamless and easy to navigate. While online, you and your friends can start races or just cause mayhem. In addition, there are challenges that will undoubtedly entertain everyone for hours.

The only real complaints I have are the inability to start a specific race from anywhere (driving back to the starting line after you just lost is frustrating) and the inability to replay crashes while cruising around the city.

The final version reaches stores Jan. 22.

Hopefully my roommate doesn't do anything too crazy until then.

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