Open city to explore, but that's the problem.
As usual there really isn't a story to speak of in Burnout Paradise, but you don't really need one anyway. This game is about driving blazingly fast and crashing cars.
Graphics are brilliant and the whole city is perfectly seamless experience with no loading anywhere except between missions, where loading times are not a problem anyway. Frame rate stays fast and solid all the time. Car models are detailed and colorful. Some serious effort has been made in damage modeling. It's just… real. Same great performance applies to audio side as well. Effects of a crash really sound like one and the blowing air in your ears when driving 200 mph is something worthy to see and hear. This is truly a next generation Burnout.
Gameplay is open-ended and free as was said earlier. You can start a race in every traffic light by pressing the both triggers at the same time. There is no warping system so if you fail you need to drive manually back to the starting point just like in real life. Races don't have a pre-designated path to drive through and you can take as much short cuts as you wish. This gives the player lots of freedom, but here also lies the problem of Burnout Paradise: there's too much freedom.
Instead of just enjoying the amazingly fast speed and crashing of your opponents, you always need to check the little map on the bottom right to see where you are going. This means that you really need to know your way around the city and this learning process alone takes a lot of time to master. If you don't pay attention to your map you end up driving the wrong way and if you pay too much attention to it you will crash. This constant map reading takes the fun of speed away from Burnout Paradise.
Online multiplayer works well: you either invite other players in your Paradise City to perform stunts and challenges or join to someone else's game. Every challenge you complete or car you gain in the multiplayer stays with you as you come back to play offline again. It's very easy to jump in and out of a game, but because of the open world it's not so easy to see whose best.
Burnout Paradise plays well, looks and sounds amazing and has a functional multiplayer component in it. Still the concept of an open-ended Burnout experience is not for everybody. For me Burnout Revenge is still the best Burnout ever made.