Criterion Games made a name for itself with its blisteringly fast racing series, Burnout. Starting off as a small team with a small project, the original game was a modest but thrilling arcade racer all about rocketing your way through traffic. With each new game, Criterion added more and more to the experience, and with Burnout 3: Takedown, the franchise finally reached its full potential. A peerless arcade racing title, the third entry was published by EA, and saw the series balloon in popularity. Not only was Criterion able to reach a wider audience with this increased funding, it had created a bit of a monster.
The developer would go on to release a few more Burnout games with Revenge, Dominator, and Paradise. Fans all have a favourite title, but the core values remain the same across all of them: insane speed, gorgeously slick arcade handling, and devastating destruction. If it wasn't clear, we love Burnout.
It needs to come back. Burnout Paradise Remastered achieved this somewhat and is, funnily enough, one of the better racing games on PlayStation 4, but we're not after a rehash. Dangerous Driving, created by a handful of Criterion alumni, attempts to scratch the itch, but we don't want a pretender. Burnout deserves another shot at the big time.
It's no secret that arcade racers have fallen by the wayside this generation. Looking towards the PS3 era, you had games like MotorStorm, Blur, Split/Second, and Pure. Most of these failed to set the world on fire despite being quality titles, and declining sales has led to the current situation. As incredible as the Burnout series is, the EA-owned racing series undoubtedly sells less than its stablemate, Need for Speed. EA handed Criterion the keys to its more successful franchise after Paradise, and to be fair, the results were excellent. Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit and Most Wanted were something of a departure for the franchise, which was (and still is) going through something of an identity crisis, but they were both unmistakably Criterion racers, and some of that Burnout energy was definitely present.
If you remember, Criterion was working on some new first-person racing game a few years back, featuring ATVs, helicopters, and all manner of vehicular mayhem. It sounded mad, but was unfortunately cancelled. Now, the studio provides support to EA's heavy hitting releases, developing content for the likes of Star Wars Battlefront 2 and Battlefield V. It's a big shame, but there must be some desire among the staff to bring the Burnout series back?
We think the franchise is long overdue another chance. Given the next generation of consoles is on the way, imagine Burnout arriving back on the scene in the early years of PS5. Whether open world or more structured, we think a new game could make a surprisingly big impact. A bold, brash return to form on new hardware, with unlicensed vehicles and a laser focus on fun factor. There's definitely an audience out there for crazy arcade racers, but it might take a company like EA to give the genre a boost. It's been peddling Need for Speed games all generation, but none of them have really caught on -- why not give Burnout a turn in the driver's seat?
It's a long shot, but we'd love to see Burnout make a huge splash on PS5. Do you want Criterion's stellar racing series to come back? Do you think it stands a chance? Drift into the comments below.