Burnout Paradise Reader Review
Burnout represents the epitome of arcade racers, pure speed and pure excitement. Paradise is a game that EA have unintentionally split the fan base with. It�s an open world racer similar to that of Test Drive Unlimited but with much better production values and overall sheen. Burnout Paradise is a very different game but remains familiar to everyone who�s played the game before.
It�s daunting at first with lots to learn but it doesn�t take long to grasp the basics. Hitting the break and accelerator at the same time takes time to master but becomes an annoyance when failed repeatedly. The main criticism is the lack of restart option, at first this just adds to the freedom but late into the game it can be incredibly frustrating.
The open world feels just like it did in Crackdown and Grand Theft Auto which is great for Paradise, the city ranks up there with the best. Instead of Orbs or Hidden Packages, there are private property gates to plough through which open up shortcuts and whole new areas. The player won�t be getting "gotta-catch-them-all" Syndrome with them but its fun to hunt them down in bursts. There are also Burnout Billboards to smash through as well as a number of Super Jumps around the map which culminates a massive collection of extras to hunt down when the player doesn�t feel like racing.
It�s not just racing though, whilst obviously a major part there�s other classic Burnout modes. Marked Man is a superb and thrilling experience every time as is Road Rage. In a great move, once the required amount of takedowns has been reached the game still continues until you�re totalled. Stunt Run utilises all the surrounding jumps to tally up a required total before the time runs out. The problem is that sometimes you can be driving around the whole time and never find anything, searching the area before starting is a necessity.
The map itself is huge with basically two main areas, urban and rural. The urban areas are fine but the rural, mountain area is too small. There are only a few roads and traversing them becomes a pain particulary if you fail to win a race and then have to find a way down. A greater expansion of this area, perhaps an element of countryside for a calm drive would have given the game a necessary but optional change of pace.
There�s a massive variety of cars in the game with three main classes, speed, stunt and aggression. Each as you can guess has their advantages and disadvantages and uses the burnout metre in various different ways. They all look great as well with a variety of classic and concept designs making each car stand out. Which brings me onto the graphics which are suitably superb; considering that most open world games have reduced graphical quality this is a fantastic achievement. The level of detail on the city is outstanding and on the cars it�s more than acceptable, the cars in play notwithstanding. The lighting does have some issues; the light gleaming off the road merges with the sun causing crashes and probably a broken controller. Perhaps a sun visor peripheral is needed.
Burnout games usually have a good soundtrack and Paradise is no different. Apart from the disappointing (baffling?) inclusion of Avril Lavigne�s there�s a good selection of great tunes to. It seems as though EA have added some "trax" on top of the original list (Pigeon Detectives) but the player barely notices as they play. As for the voce guiding you through the game DJ Atomika unlike the unbearable DJ Stryker of Burnout 3 fame is a far more bearable chap and doesn�t make listening to him a chore.
To add to the aforementioned graphical achievement is the online play where absolutely nothing is lost. The map is still completely open, players can be on opposite sides of the map and the quality won�t drop at all. All together there are 350 challenges ranging from ridiculously easy to fiendishly hard. More than enough to keep an online crowd happy even without the races. These races use the eight compass points as starting points, checkpoints and finishing lines making for some maddening races. It does seem mildly restricted however and I believe a system whereby any junction can become a racing point would be much better but perhaps that should be left for the inevitable sequel.
One would imagine that the sequel would be essentially the same but where should Criterion go with the franchise? It would take balls to attempt to add story to the franchise adding purpose to the races rather than wanting to get the next license or new cars. It does leave the conundrum of how one character would survive so many violent crashes but a bit of suspended belief never hurt anyone. It�s something that would be great because story doesn�t tend to work for this genre but if anyone could do it, it would be Criterion.
Burnout Paradise does more than enough to satisfy pure Burnout fans and is a great achievement for the team. The first big title of 2008 certainly hasn�t disappointed, it may have some flaws but this is a very solid game worthy of the old beer tokens.
8 / 10