After looking at the test data, our conclusion is simple: Burnout Paradise is not only drop-dead gorgeous, but it’s also very easy on the hardware.
To run the game at 1920x1200 with 8x MSAA applied, you only need a graphics card as powerful as a GeForce 9600 GT or better. A Core 2 Duo running at about 2.5 GHz can supply 60 FPS while a triple- or quad-core CPU, such as the Phenom II or Core 2 Quad, could probably do the job at 2.0 GHz or faster.
These are not monster specifications when it comes to 1920x1200 gaming with high AA. And if you’re running an HTPC with a 720p display, you can handle 4x MSAA with only a Radeon HD 4650.
The fact that the game is so hardware-friendly is impressive and speaks to how well optimized the Burnout Paradise engine really is. Kudos to Criterion Games for not only making an extremely playable and fun game, but for making a title that is so easy to run on common hardware.
The only downside we can see to this title is that it looks as though the SSAO feature was never properly implemented. The dark halos on the telephone wires and the like are so distracting that they completely offset the benefits of SSAO in the first place. But the good news is that the game is still visually immersive, even without the feature enabled, especially since 8xMSAA is so accessible.
If you’re a racing fan with a PC and haven’t had a chance to buy this game for your console, you owe it to yourself to give the demo a download on your PC and try it out.