I’m a big fan of Frank Stephenson’s YouTube channel. I love how the designer behind some of the most recognizable cars of the last few decades lends a peek into his process in his videos. But I especially love it when Frank turns his critical eye toward the fictional cars of gaming. In his most recent video, he focused on a favorite of mine, Burnout Paradise.
Frank’s done this before. His first video game car design analysis centered on Grand Theft Auto V; his second, Cyberpunk 2077. Burnout is quite different from both of those, and so it’s not surprising Frank’s analysis takes a different tone, too.
But first: How about that thumbnail? Frank got his own Paradise City learner’s permit! Whoever edits your videos, man — they’re a genius.
Anyway, the McLaren P1 designer began with positive things to say about the Carson Fastback Special and Watson 25 V16 Revenge. Frank noted how the Carson pulls cues from the Torino and first-generation Camaro, but the modern greenhouse comes off as more of an anachronism. Burnout Paradise had a lot of muscle cars — some more unique than others — but the Fastback Special was among the most daring, with its pointed front fenders and sunken headlights.
Frank lavished more praise on the Watson, complimenting the aggressive nose and flared rear haunches. The 25 V16 Revenge was sort of like Burnout’s Enzo, and while the designer said he’d recognized familiar elements of it from other supercars, he never mentioned what those cars were.
With both of these vehicles, Frank highlighted an interesting point that didn’t come up much in the GTA V video and certainly not at all in the Cyberpunk one. Where as GTA’s designs tend toward parody and Cyberpunk’s are wild and surreal to match that game’s aesthetic, Burnout’s car designers were far more conservative, mostly choosing to create virtual counterparts to popular models of the time. Speaking of which, Burnout Paradise first released in 2008 — so perhaps we can chalk up the dated 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 bit more extreme,” Frank said in summary of all the cars he reviewed. “The thing I would probably have done is radicalize the cars a little bit more. There’s a lot of room to maneuver within this game to produce cars that could be potentially a lot more ‘pushing the limits,’ let’s say.”
In general, Frank was quite critical of Burnout’s vehicles, either for not taking enough chances (like the Ferrari- and Lamborghini-aping Rossolini Tempesta) or being a grotesque “amalgamation of the worst of the worst cars put together” (like the Montgomery Hyperion). In fact, Frank eviscerated the Hyperion, which almost looks like a Jaguar E-Type if the E-Type were mid-engined and wider than a boat.
I was concerned 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 kindly request an episode on the vehicles of Ridge Racer sometime. It had some wild ones I’m sure he’d have a lot to say about.