Been playing it most of the day. Lots of improvements, but a few things got broken along the way. For example, I think the overall soundtrack isn't as good as that of B3 or even B2. Also, you can't just jump into a single player Road Rage or Traffic Attack from the main menu, which is a horrible oversight since those are by far the most fun parts of the game. Traffic Attack really is a wonderful source of stress relief. How about a free run, no time limit version of it, Crit and EA?
You still can't steer the camera manually while trying to get Aftertouches or during crash mode. That's a big blunder. Also, the cars don't bounce around as much, meaning you have to hit a particular point in many crash venues precisely to get anything good to happen. Crash multipliers and bonus icons are gone, so the overall damage totals are much lower. On the other hand, you can pull off multiple Crashbreakers now, depending on how much damage you cause. Cars have different "levels" of Crashbreaker, too.
Crash venues can be replayed without going back to the front end, much like before, but they somehow didn't bother to include that restart feature at the end of race events. Maybe I don't want to have to sit thru 3 more load times and go all the way back to the front end just to retry that race. Ever consider that, Criterion? Also, in Grand Prix events, you can't restart an individual race; you have to restart ALL the races. Burnout 3 let players restart any race in the GP. It was there; why'd you take it out?
Cosmetically, the game looks better than ever. The cars are so stinkin hot, I'd consider molesting them if I found them in my driveway. The courses look better, have tons of shortcuts and bonus areas, big jumps, and even jumping over cliffs to cut off the opposition. And you can LAND ON the opposition now, too, which is a pretty cool feeling.
Sound effects are much improved, aside from my aforementioned blah feeling regarding much of the soundtrack. I'll say it again: I cannot race to techno, house, or rave music. I race to ROCK. And what's this deal with only being able to turn off certain soundtrack tunes AFTER having played the game for so many hours? This was true in B3 as well. I know you paid for the license to the song and you want to MAKE me listen to it, EA, but that's your problem. Don't twist my arm.
Anyway, the sounds are a lot better. Tons more whooshing and booming and banging. Triggering the boost is like firing a shotgun, both in sight and sound. A loud clap blasts out of the speakers, the screen shakes, and everything in front of you panics. There's a reason that, on the car selection screen, rather than saying "select your car," it says "choose your weapon." :)
There are enough improvements and disappointments so far to keep it tied with Burnout 3 to me in terms of greatness. It's certainly good, better than everything else out there besides its own predecessors, so don't pass it up just cuz I'm nit-picking. More to come...