Live from Paradise; Criterion announce motorbikes, community features and planes!
Today was always going to be an exciting day.
Criterion announced that their podcast, for the first time, was going to be broadcast live across the 'net. If that wasn't exciting enough, they were going to invite some PS3 owners to play Burnout Paradise live during the podcast.
So then imagine our joy when they asked little ol' PS3 Attitude to join in the game so we could write up how it felt to be part of their first live podcast!
We were ready and waiting at 15:00 UK time, but the podcast start-point came and went. And so did 10 past, quarter-past and half-past. No sign of the team online ready to bring us in to the game.
But it's OK - because today just became even more exciting than we had previously thought.
After starting the live podcast later than expected, the guys at Criterion had something much more important on their minds than a mere PS3 free-for-all, no matter how much fun that would have been.
With their 'Bogart' update only just over 17 hours away for the PS3, the Burnout team started to talk about the following upgrade - named 'Cagney' - and what it is going to include.
Firstly, there are a whole slew of changes to races to make them fairer, especially when they are ranked races:
- Custom Routes are no longer featured in competition races - you can choose from 40 predefined Paradise Drives that Criterion have sanctioned, 7 of which came from fans.
- Sanctioned Routes have their own Time Leaderboards - so you can all see who’s the fastest per route.
- Traffic can no longer be switched off in competition races
- No more ‘rounds’ in competition racing - many players disconnect, when they feel like there's no chance of winning, so they've got rid of the concept of rounds.
- Cars can be grouped by Boost Rating - limiting to Boost Level 3 cars, for example, still gives you 10 massively varied cars but they'll all be pretty closely matched for great racing.
- Car Select now appears after the Race Route has been selected - the host can't make sure they're the only one who knows the route, and now everyone gets a chance to choose an appropriate car.
- The host can't kick other players any more
- Grid position is based on player ranking
- Full Boost Bars
- Rank and Ranking Points are displayed in game
- New map icons differentiate the Start and Finish points
All of this will be familiar to regular visitors to the Criterion website... so what else is coming along with Cagney?
Apart from some cosmetic changes to the start screens and logos, when you launch the game you'll see a new page with streaming player and game news, bringing all the great content from the Criterion website (and more) direct to the players. That new page shows the local time, Paradise City weather (plus real cities too), a calendar and all manner of hints/tips/news/info.
It moves Burnout Paradise up to a new level, giving you instant access to the world Criterion have created and offering a view of what has happened in Burnout in the last 24 hours. It's a real community-driven offering.
The calendar is more than just a useful reminder of what day it is.
From July, every weekend there will be a formal - and personal - Burnout Paradise event and some of these events will involve new cars. The team announced that some of these new cars will not have boost - it's all going to be about using your skill under standard conditions.
The 'personal' element? The event might be based on your licence or how much you interact on the forums. If you have an Elite licence, you may get a chance to test drive a new car for 24 hours before anyone else sees it! The more you give to Criterion, the more you'll get back.
By getting involved when this new feature kicks in, you may gain cars that will never be offered again, so it's worth jumping on board as soon as Cagney launches.
As was already reported elsewhere, Cagney on the PS3 will bring custom soundtracks as well. In addition to this, the team are going to remix all the sounds and music, and even add sirens to the police cars!
The guys went on to announce that 70 new freeburn challenges are coming to extend the game in Cagney, but they will be adding new challenges throughout the year. And some of these new challenges are multi-part challenges. In addition there will be leaderboards for each challenge so you can see how quickly you completed it.
Cagney should be available at the end of June.
But all of these community functions, new cars, events, challenges and competition-racing rule changes aren't the most important item announced in today's live podcast.
Yes - motorbikes are coming to Paradise, for the first time in any Burnout title.
This will be one of the first 'paid for' packs. Up until now the other updates have been free of charge. Personally, we think that it's about time and completely fair for Criterion to start charging for some of this brilliant DLC.
What else is coming in Davis? You can now drive around Paradise at night. Watching the live podcast video you get a real sense of speed and control on the motorbikes, and Paradise City looks brilliant at night. There will even be less traffic at night, just like in real life.
There is still some work to do in terms of bringing car vs. bike racing to the game - you won't be able to do that in Davis - but Criterion are committed to improving all of these new features over time. Road Rash for the 21st Century? Possibly!
Finally, the guys showed something that is not in any of the updates yet. Planes! Criterion wanted to stress this may or may not make it into the game this year, but I'm excited about it. I remember a couple of great air race games on the Amiga, so it would be brilliant to see the Burnout team bring Red Bull Air Race style action to Paradise.
High quality images and video will be available over the next couple of days at the Criterion website.