''Burnout Paradise'' lets daredevil drivers show who's really king of the road

(Electronic Arts; Xbox 360 and PS3; Everyone 10+)

Speed demons, rejoice! The latest installment of Burnout — the car-racing series for people who don?t brake for car-racing games — is now on store shelves. Infamous for ignoring the rules of the road (or, for that matter, the rules of basic physics), the series is best known for eschewing the hyper-realistic and generally unforgiving gameplay of most driving sims in favor of an experience that basically rewards reckless driving and your ability to cause spectacular crashes. In this game, you are dropped into the bustling burg of Paradise City (yes, EA cut a check to use the Guns N’ Roses track) — where you go in this sprawl of urban and rural roads is completely up to you. There are more than enough ramps, chasms, hidden paths, parked cars, and multi-level bridges to satisfy any motorhead’s adolescent dreams. And with no time limit or set course to follow, you can zoom around ’til your thumbs fall off.

Best of all, when you finally get bored with all of this giant-sandbox roaming, or want to earn yourself a different car, just come to a stop at nearly any intersection to activate mini-events like ”Marked Man,” a race during which other vehicles try to ram you off the road. Other challenges have you perform barrel rolls and other stunts within a set time. Press a few buttons on your controller and you can trade paint with online opponents. The multiplayer mode is wickedly fun, and even better if you have a webcam, which can paste on your TV screen the ugly faces of your vanquished quarry. Though some may run out of things to do in Paradise City — the ‘wow’ factor of vehicular mayhem tends to diminish after the hundredth collision — the game does add a new wrinkle (as well as few dents) to a genre that was spinning its wheels. B+