Criterion Games is aiming for the world with Burnout 5, starting with your PlayStation 3. The company is taking its love of speed, explosions, and fire to the next generation in order to create some of the craziest and most beautiful crashes in gaming. After all, as one of the team members put it: "A f***ed-up car is a beautiful thing."
"If you couldn't make a great game on the PlayStation 2, you can't make a good game on the PlayStation 3," says Alex Ward, the director of game design for Burnout 5.
While the previous Burnouts have all built on the technology of their predecessors, Burnout 5 is going back to page one. "For us, this is a total reset from one generation to the other," says Ward. "One of our goals is to be truly 'next generation,' and that means starting from the ground up."
One reason for that mind-set: This is Criterion's first time around with the new system, and the team doesn't want to make incorrect assumptions about its capabilities. Alex Fry, the game's technical director, explains: "The first thing you have to do when you get new hardware is learn it. Beating it into submission doesn't make sense; you have to work with it." By the team's estimate, just one of the machine's seven synergistic processing elements (SPEs) has more power in it than the entire emotion engine of the PS2.
But learning the technology is only part of the reason. "We know the audience is expecting a leap, and we don't want to disappoint our audience," Ward says. "If, the first time you see the cars wreck [in Burnout 5], you don't think, 'That's why I bought the PlayStation 3; the next gen is here,'--if you think, 'Eh, it's a little better,' or 'It did that last time,'--then we haven't gotten there. So that's why the first thing we have to nail is the crashing."