The announcement of Burnout 5 this week won't have come as a shock to anyone ("Did you honestly think we'd NOT do a Burnout on PS3?!" quips Criterion's ever effusive Alex Ward) - but that doesn't mean we're not excited about the prospect of a next gen overhaul for one of our all-time favourite games.
But in typically enigmatic fashion, the press release for the game delivered, well, absolutely no information about the game whatsoever. Apart from that bit about it being a "complete reinvention". Yeah, thanks for that Alex!
Being unable to just leave it at that, we decided to collar Mr Ward to attempt to extract some more concrete information about Criterion's latest, and possibly greatest project. Slipperier than an eel in an oil spill, Ward wriggled out of giving us too much information, but it seems likely that the next Burnout will adopt the open city approach favoured by Need For Speed, but with the added bonus of "always having something to do". Like smash up cars, for instance.
With better damage modelling promised, more "space" and a jazzed up approach to the online side of the game, it promises to be the ultimate Burnout. Read on about Criterion's new game, thoughts on a sequel to Black and how the company's coped with its transition to EA ownership...
Eurogamer: Burnout 5 is pitched as a "complete reinvention" of the series. Can you elaborate on what you mean by that?
Alex Ward: What we mean is that we're starting again and building a next-generation game from scratch. People expect a lot from the new hardware. I know I do.
Eurogamer: It sounds like the game will be an openworld driving experience - is that the case, and will it feel more like Need For Speed in that respect, with the player driving to and fro to different events?
Alex Ward: You'll have to wait and see. Burnout and Need for Speed are connected in the sense that they are both driving game and they are both published by the same publisher.
We do totally different things in our games.
Eurogamer: On the same topic, can you skip the needless driving around if you want to, or does the driving between events in itself provide a meaningful gameplay element (such as actually driving along and discovering a massive crash junction, etc).
Alex Ward: For starters, it's Burnout. So the action is always around the next corner. We feel that sometimes this style of world can lead to a 'find the fun' factor where there isn't much to do. In Burnout there is always something to do. Like ploughing into cars for example.
Eurogamer: Revenge was a surprisingly big game, all in all. Will 5 be as big, in terms of actual play area?
Alex Ward: The new game has more 'space' (note I am being careful what I say there) than any other Burnout game yet.
Eurogamer: Ever thought of combining Burnout and Black and letting people get out of the car to run around and blow shit up?
Alex Ward: No.
Eurogamer: Burnout has always featured incredible damage modelling. With the power of next gen machines at your disposal, how much better can it get?
Alex Ward: A lot better. We can now simulate the energy traveling through a vehicle at the point of impact. For us, it's about spectacular car crashes.
Eurogamer: Last time around, it took Criterion until Burnout 2 to really tap into the power of the PS2. Will it take a similar amount of time before you can really begin to explore the true potential of 360 and PS3? In the case of the 360, has the Revenge port given you a chance to really hit the ground running?
Alex Ward: Port is such a dirty word to us. Whenever we bring our games to a new format we always try and do something different or unique for that hardware. Looking across the 360 library so far, we don't see Revenge 360 as a port. We spent significant time developing the 'Live Revenge' feature as well as working on visuals and adding new content. I think it's still largely a misunderstood feature in the eyes of the specialist press. In fact, we just explored this topic on our website www.CriterionGames.com. We're enjoying the hardware a lot so expect something special.