I am a huge fan of Frank Stephenson’s YouTube channel. I love the way the designer behind some of the most recognizable cars of decades provides insight into his process in his videos. But I especially like it when Frank turns his critical gaze to the fictional game cars. In his last video, he focused on one of my favorites, Burnout Paradise.
Frank has done this before. His first video game car design analysis focused on Grand Theft Auto V; his second, Cyberpunk 2077. Burnout is quite different from the two, and therefore it is not surprising Frank’s analysis also takes on a different tone.
But first: how about this thumbnail? Frank got his own learner’s license in Paradise City! Whoever edits your videos, man – he’s a genius.
Regardless, the McLaren P1 designer started off with positive things to say about the Carson Fastback Special and the Watson 25 V16 Revenge. Frank has noted how the Carson is inspired by the first-gen Torino and Camaro, but the modern greenhouse comes across more as an anachronism. Burnout Paradise had plenty of muscle cars – some more unique than others – but the Fastback Special was among the boldest, with its pointed front fenders and sunken headlights.
Frank lavished more praise on the Watson, complimenting the aggressive nose and flared rear hips. The 25 V16 Revenge was a bit like Burnout Enzo, and although the designer said he recognized familiar elements of it from other supercars, he never mentioned what those cars were.
With these two vehicles, Frank made an interesting point that was not covered much in the GTA V video and certainly not at all in the Cyberpunk a. While GTA the drawings tend towards parody and Cyberpunk are wild and surreal to match the aesthetic of this game, Burnout Car designers were much more conservative, mainly choosing to create virtual counterparts to popular models of the time. Talking about that, Burnout Paradise first released in 2008 – so perhaps we can attribute the outdated look of its cars to the fact that the game itself is 13 years old at this point.
“I expected it to be a little more extreme,” Frank said in summary of all the cars he looked at. “What I probably would have done is radicalize the cars a bit more. There is a lot of wiggle room in this game to produce cars that could be a lot more ‘pushing the limits’, let’s say.
In general, Frank was quite critical Burnout vehicles, either for not taking enough risks (like the Ferrari and Lamborghini-singing Rossolini Tempesta) or for being a “grotesque amalgamation of the worst of the worst cars put together” (like the Montgomery Hyperion). In fact, Frank gutted the Hyperion, which almost looks like a Jaguar E-Type if the E-Type was mid-engined and wider than a boat.
I was concerned about Frank’s foray into the weird and wonderful world of fake racing game cars would end with the Cyberpunk video, so I’m glad to see he’s still on the beat. Again I request an episode on vehicles from Ridge racer sometimes. There were some savages I’m sure he would have a lot to say.