All the violence of car wrecks with none of the people
The Burnout series is the only set of racing games that I've ever really been able to stomach, and that is for a few reasons. One being the fact that the game is as much (if not more) about wrecking stuff and causing destruction as it is about racing, and the other main reason is that it doesn't do that crap about making it feel more like the "real world" by making you manage money and repair and buy your own cars. This game not only doesn't punish you for bustin' up your own set of wheels, it almost encourages it - to an extent.
The really marvelous thing about Burnout Paradise is how much the city itself adds to everything you do. The open world nature of the game makes you explore, race, fight, and do barrel rolls all across the same area, as opposed to having a set stage that is for racing, or one for causing huge crashes. They all happen in the same place. That almost sounds like a bad thing, but not when the developers have done an exceptional job of jamming the streets of Paradise City full of detail. Literally every street has something, whether it be a shortcut, a ramp, or a parking deck to climb, that makes it interesting. Then, at every stoplight in the city, there is an event you can do. These include races, road rages (my and probably everyone else's favorite), marked man, stunt runs, burning routes, all of which can be fun depending on your tastes.
This game is not perfect however, even if we get past the constant annoyance of "DJ Atomica" on your Crash FM radio, followed by Avril Lavigne telling me how she doesn't like my girlfriend. For me, the act of learning all the ins and outs of the city is a chore, and its not easy, but its only necessary because of the level of detail and complexity that make the game what it is. So I'm torn on that point, I don't want to lose all that complexity, I guess in the end I just wish I was better at driving games. Any other grievances I have are small and nit picky, like the fact that you can't just quit an event if you want. I can't tell you how many times I've accidentally taken a "shortcut" only to end up going the completely wrong direction during a race, but I have to actually get to the finish line so it can tell me that I came in last before I can do anything else. I also would really appreciate the ability to switch your car wherever, not just at one of the few junkyards (obviously only when not doing an event).
Anyway, my small issues aside, this is a very solid racing game and an enjoyable experience for people who (like me) don't really like racing games. Get out there and start tearing up the city, I promise that DJ Atomica will guide you on your path, whether you want him to or not.