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Published September 22, 2008

Burnout motorists hoping for Road Rash-style brawls or at least a new excuse to revisit Paradise City may be disappointed to hear that the latest update from Criterion doesn’t add much content. I know, I know – it’s hard to complain when its free. But that doesn’t change the fact that the bikes and especially the day/night cycles are rubbish.

When I think Burnout, I picture cars moving at blistering speeds and trading paint. The charm of the series is the emphasis on reckless, destructive driving. So why then are all of the offline* challenges time trials? Totally asinine. And why are the bike crashes so anemic? I’m not looking for grotesque displays of carnage, but there’s something satisfying about the slow-motion car crunches that are the series’ trademark. When I smash my bike into the side of the bus, it’s very jarring to see it suddenly pop onto the screen unscathed immediately afterwards.

And the less said about night racing, the better. I want to know who at Criterion thought it would be a good idea to actually reduce visibility in a game that’s already too cluttered. The streets are lined with light posts, but none of them were programmed to function; Paradise City apparently suffers through blackouts every night. Luckily, the night skies can be turned off in the options menu, but they could have given the game a different ambiance if implemented better.

*I don’t have access to the online mode right now, but I can’t imagine that bikes would radically alter head-to-head races.

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