I thought I’d give my own take on this story as I have played Burnout right from the beginning and have some good memories from past games in the series. I’d just like to mention before I go any further, that I have 1) read Criterion’s response, and 2) played the demo in question.
The gist is that players have taken the Burnout Paradise demo for a spin (on both the PS3 and Xbox 360 I believe) and (more or less) universally condemned it. Kokatu’s rather nicely-worded article ‘Criterion Responds To Burnout Paradise Criticism‘ reveals a rather more accurate summery:
‘The Burnout Team have written a rather grumbly Christmas card to fans who have found one too many things to complain about in the demo version of Burnout Paradise.’
I still think that’s putting it mildly. The Burnout Team are probably hacked off that they’ve spent so much time and effort on Burnout Paradise, only to have a fair amount of criticism levelled at their beloved. When reading Criterion’s response I get the overwhelming feeling of despise for the critical gamer out there. People have good reason- as consumers (in the UK anyway), next gen games cost £40-50 which is no pocket change. Gamers are more critical than ever these days with good reason.
Next you will see how Criterion gets this totally wrong, and so here’s a choice quote from the Burnout Team themselves:
As to those who can proclaim from a taste of the demo that Burnout 2 was the best game (always nice to see all those Gamecube owners on the internet who haven’t played the game since B2! ) or that B3 is the better game – again, I can only smile. Those of us who have made the games dearly love those games but we’re confident that if you love those games too then you will love Paradise.
And therein I think, lies the problem. All the Burnout games that have preceded Paradise have gone along the path of evolution- creating a better game with minor changes for the best. Burnout was the ultimate in arcade racing in my opinion. However Paradise seems to have taken the revolution approach- starting from scratch, and offering a completely revamped experience. Whilst this is no bad thing, gamers that have followed the series from the beginning do not like such a great change.
I also totally agree with what Matt Brett has to say on this matter in his post ‘Burnout Paridise, a great franchise ruined‘. Whilst gamers brand-new to the franchise will love it, it is fundamentally different to what most of us have known and enjoyed playing.