Need for Speed to be Developed by Criterion Games?

As Giant Bomb's resident Burnout Paradise enthusiast, I would be remiss not to discuss my thoughts on the new twist on EA's Need for Speed homelessness drama. This update to Joystiq's story cropped up this morning:

Joystiq said:

"Update: We've received a tip from someone a purported EA employ who wishes to remain anonymous. According to this source, the Need for Speed series isn't shutting down -- but EA Black Box, the development team behind recent entries into the series, "most likely" is. The source explains that EA not only scrapped their plans to open up a new studio in Vancouver, but that they also decided to close Black Box, moving the NFS and Skate teams to their much larger Burnaby studios.

The source further details the fate of Need for Speed -- he claims that one of the next entries into the series will be developed by the EA-owned Criterion Games, and will likely use the engine of their racing series, Burnout. He also claims that there are three different teams within Black Box that are responsible for developing Need for Speed titles (which is how they're able to release a new NFS title every year) -- though these three teams will likely consolidate into one, leading to less NFS releases, more continuity between said releases, and, ultimately, drastic downsizing for the NFS teams."

While I must admit that a Need for Speed developed by Criterion Games would probably rock, I'd much rather see a new Burnout than a new Need for Speed. I concede that I did find Need for Speed: Carbon's world somewhat intriguing, I have enjoyed the diverse landscape of Paradise City much more. And while many here are probably proponents of licensed cars over "fake" cars, I strongly endorse the diversity in the cars of Burnout. Since the cars are not based on real world licenses, the Criterion Games team can ultimately create a more diverse line-up of cars in both terms of look and handling. Now, I'm not totally opposed to the idea of a Need for Speed from Criterion Games and I'll probably buy it. Who knows? Maybe this can convince me that the Need for Speed universe is a world worth exploring for me. If this is true, however, we can all say good-bye to Burnout. Since Need for Speed is obviously the more widely-recognized and played franchise, EA will doubtless maintain their focus on the Need for Speed franchise and probably put Burnout to rest.

So, I say we enjoy the new DLC coming to Paradise City in 2009, because that looks like where it will end. I'm guessing we'll see the next Need for Speed come 2010. Burnout's era has ended and, somewhat regrettably, Need for Speed's will continue live on for a long time.

And of course, this is all a rumor, so maybe I'm worrying over nothing.

Why Burnout Paradise is the Best Arcade Racer Ever

I posted a story on Facebook from Kotaku about how EA may be shutting down the Need for Speed series and I made the comment that I was happy because maybe EA would put some actual marketing into Burnout now. Some of my friends claimed that Burnout sucks too and that Mario Kart is the best racing franchise ever. Here is the discussion. You can decide who won. I'll update it as this conversation continues.

AS: Why the Need for Speed Hate? It's just as viable a franchise as Burnout.

Me: Have you seen the past couple games? At least Burnout is getting better. I'm hoping this will get Burnout the marketing it needs from EA since it's clearly not getting it.

ZM: All racing games are terrible.

ZM: EDIT: Except for Mario Kart.

Me: That's just because you're a noob. And Mario Kart is totally lame. It's so SLOW.

AS: Apparently you don't know how to snake.

Me: You can't snake in Mario Kart Wii. Also, snaking is LAME.

And you shouldn't have to exploit the game to go fast. Burnout Paradise: that game is genuinely fast. Also, it feels far more rewarding when you're weaving in and out of traffic and then slamming your opponent into an oncoming van than just getting a blue shell and magically putting yourself in first place.

AS: Does Burnout Paradise have a battle mode?

I didn't think so.

Me: It has Road Rage AND Marked Man. And guess what? You're still moving fast, following your target towards an objective, and not driving in circles on top of a square, over-sized Gamecube.

ZM: Does Burnout Paradise not suck?

I didn't think so.

Me: ZM, if you aren't going to say anything intelligent, just don't post at all.

AS: The way you described Mario Kart's battle mode makes me want to play Mario Kart 64 again...

And going towards an objective? Sounds pretty linear to me, as opposed to the amazing battles you can have in Mario Kart.

Me: Well, seeing as you're playing in a huge open world, basically allowing you to use any path and tactic you want, it is far from linear. All you do in Mario Kart is give your DS a blow job, drive as fast you can towards a weapon box, spam all of the green shells/banana shells, and then rinse and repeat.

And seeing as neither of you have played the game while I have played every Mario Kart ever made and I'm the only one to ever play Burnout Paradise, I'm really the only one with a valid opinion on the subject.

AS: Actually, I have played Burnout Paradise, along with watching you play it...

Me: Metacritic for Burnout Paradise (PS3): 87. It's 88 on 360, if you must know.

Metacritic for Mario Kart Wii: 82

And the only reason it's that high is because there is barely anything decent on the Wii anyway.

AS: We're not judging Mario Kart Wii. We're judging Mario Kart games as a whole, or Mario Kart 64/Double Dash, if you want specifics.

And let me ask you... have you played Mario Kart: Super Circuit for GBA? Burnout 3: Takedown? Burnout: Revenge? You don't seem qualiified to have an opinion at all, let alone a valid one.

Me: When did you ever play it? And when you watched me play it, you even said it looked cool and you might consider getting it. I only have two beefs with the game: no split-screen (which is understandable due to the open world) and the fact that you can't just restart a race when you lose (which is coming in a patch once they get all the bugs worked out).

This is why Burnout Paradise is one of the best arcade racing games ever made:
1. It's fast. That's the most important part in any racing game, which some developers don't seem to understand. *cough* Nintendo. *cough*
2. The open world is very well designed with plenty of distinctive areas that the player can memorize pretty well in just a couple hours of play.
3. About eighty vehicles, all of which play differently. Each car isn't just a slight tweak of another car. Every car feels different when you're controlling it. This is another problem with a lot of racing games.
4. Customization. Almost every car has multiple paint jobs and a multitude of colors for each finish. (about twenty different color options for each paint job). There's no mechanical customization, but thanks the wide variety of cars and their drastic differences, this isn't a problem.
5. Probably the most extensive DLC I've ever seen for a game. Not only that, but it's all free. Also, the game will continue to be expanded in 2009 with five more game packs including some "legendary cars" (inspired by the likes of the car from Back to Future) and an entirely new island which fleshes out what Burnout Paradise is all about: Going where you want and doing what you want.
6. Intuitive online. You just tap right on the D-pad a couple times and you're online playing with people. There are 490 online challenges in the game which ask the players to work together to complete a variety of objectives like jumping through the fuselage at the airport or hitting each other mid-air or driving 1000 yards in reverse into on-coming traffic. These challenges change based on the number of players in the game and, especially when you have eight players, can end up being extremely hilarious, especially when you're trying to pack eight cars onto a small platform. Also, all of the staples of a racing game are in there. There's the standard race. You know, be the first to the finish line. But Burnout racing is unique in the fact that you can choose your own route to get to the finished line and not depend on a pre-determined course set by the game. Also, modes like Marked Man (take down a selected target before he gets to an objective) or Road Rage (take down all of the cars on the other team in a certain amount of time) are distinct Burnout game modes that work perfectly with the title. Add in online Stunt Run and the fun of just driving around Paradise City and goofing off with the people in your game, Burnout Paradise's online is simply the best online of any racing game.

I never said I played the first three Burnout games. I'm talking about Burnout Paradise.

And Mario Kart Wii is just Mario Kart DS and Mario Kart: Double Dash... and that's it. Oh, and there's motorbikes.

And yes, I did play Mario Kart GBA.

AS: I need to go buy a new TV, but I'd like to mention that you're acting overly biased against Mario Kart, especially in this statement.

And Mario Kart Wii is just Mario Kart DS and Mario Kart: Double Dash... and that's it. Oh, and there's motorbikes.

If we go like that, I can say the same thing about Burnout Paradise:

Burnout Paradise is just Need for Speed Underground and every other one up until the end of the series.... Oh, and there's motorbikes.

Me: Uh... not really at all. Need for Speed is all about feux serious stories that nobody really cares about combined with boring licensed cars that all more or less behave the same way set in an uninteresting world with people who are extremely over-obsessed with street racing. Unless you're Need for Speed: Prostreet, which is all about driving down straight roads through the boring desert. Also, Need for Speed puts no emphasis on stunts or anything. Also, all of the flag-girls are retarded for pre-pubescent kids who need something pretty to look at.

Burnout Paradise wins because it doesn't rely on a cheesy story, licensed cars, and gimmicky mechanics like being the cop or fake car damage.

Burnout Paradise shares very little with Need for Speed except that they both have cars and an open world. Mario Kart Wii is literally Mario Kart DS with some new tracks and no snaking. Which is perfectly fine for Nintendo, because fanboys are content with buying the same game over and over.


You decide who won the debate.


Let's make this clear...

This is something I posted on I thought I'd share it with you guys.


Insomniac did a poor job with the Campaign in Resistance 2.

We should have all seen this coming when the campaign had already been completed by the time they announced the game. Sure, it didn't have all of the polish, but the story was set in stone at a very early point in the development process. Sure, the intel and viral stuff fleshed out the story very well, but all of the characters and cutscenes from Resistance 2's campaign were very poorly executed. I, for one, connected with none of the character, including Hale. Actually, the best character in that game was the one you never saw: Henry Stillman. He was by far the deepest and most compelling character in the story. Unfortunately, the character is forced to follow Nathan Hale, who would have been fine as a silent protagonist, but apparently that wasn't BA enough.

The Sentinals were generic and uninteresting, the plot line was uninteresting and a disappointment after Resistance: Fall of Man and the excellent viral marketing campaign, and the story answers almost no questions and creates a million new ones. We're lucky this game sold well (at least I presume it did) so we can actually see how the story pans out. But that pisses me off. It's like they created this story knowing full well they could screw up the campaign and just try to fix it with Resistance 3.

Don't get me wrong, some of the gameplay elements were definitely interesting, but the story holding it together was so weak, it actually made me LESS interested in the Resistance universe.

You know what I want? A survival-horror game where you play as a common American like Henry Stillman. You're trying to get out of a town crippled by a Chimeran strike. Imagine the possibilites.

Unfortuntely, that was all I got out of the Resistance 2 campaign. Thankfully co-op and competitive save it!



Holy mirror's edge, Batman!

How to achieve happiness:
1) Boot up your PlayStation 3.
2) Navigate to the Sony PlayStation Store.
3) Download the Mirror's Edge demo.
4) Twiddle thumbs.
5) Install Mirror's Edge demo.
6) Twiddle thumbs.
7) Boot the demo.
8) Be happy.

If you don't know what this is yet, navigate to the Mirror's Edge page and read up. Basically, it's a first-person free running game. It surprising works extremely well. Once you get going, you feel like nothing can stop you, and soon you are vaulting over fences, sliding under pipes, and leaping over streets without missing a heart beat. If this game has not be on your radar, it should be now.

I'll make sure to pick it up by the end of the year.


Four New Burnout Paradise Packs Coming in Spring 2009

In the newly redesigned "", a page called "Coming Soon" has been added. This page references four new "packs" coming to Burnout Paradise in the Spring of '09.

Here are the packs and the dates Criterion plans on revealing them:

Burnout Paradise Pack 4 - October 31

Burnout Paradise Pack 5 - November 7

Burnout Paradise Pack 6 - November 14

Burnout Paradise Pack 7 - November 21

We already know one of these is the challenging "Islands" pack and Criterion has already hinted at aircraft coming to the game... that leaves two packs yet to disclosed at all.

So much for the "Year of Paradise". The only question that remains is:

Will this be another free update, or will Criterion charge for it?


What I want to see at TGS

I want to hear more about the Fabula Nova Crystalis series, specifically the PS3 releases. I also want to hear more about the US release of the PS2 remake of Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories.