These past couple weeks have brought some major disappointments. It’s actually to the point now where I’m dreading anything new coming along that I’ve been anticipating as it’s likely to be crap. Let’s do a quick re-cap – XBL Video Marketplace is released in Canada with garbage line-up and ridiculously high prices. Xbox Originals launches with great line-up, but ridiculously high prices. iTunes TV comes to Canada with garbage line-up, reasonable prices but nothing worth purchasing. Unreal Tournament 3 is released for PlayStation 3, but has no split-screen play what-so-ever. And finally, Burnout Paradise demo is released, and it’s utter crap.

Deanna and I sunk many, many hours into the past 2 Burnout titles, and were both looking forward to Burnout Paradise very much. After breakfast, we sat down to check out the demo and I nearly ended up throwing the controller at my glorious new TV. Why, oh why do developers insist on taking a franchise that has consistently done well and completely changing the formula until it’s no long even recognizable? Say goodbye to your 90%+ average, Criterion. If this demo is any indication of what’s in store for the final game (and it mostly like is since the game ships in just over a month), Burnout Paradise suuucks!

What? Where Did They Go Wrong?

When I think back to when I was playing Burnout Revenge and Burnout Takedown, and ask myself why I enjoyed them and what the experience was like. I think of absolutely chaos, extremely fast and over-the-top racing. Mind blowing crashes and massive explosions. Jumping from one event to the next with only a brief intermission breaking up the madness. Non-stop action.

In the Burnout Paradise demo, after being forced through an opening cinematic and instructional intro sequence, you’re finally given a car from the junk yard and told where you can go to find an autobody to repair it, or a paintshop to change the colour. Once you start driving away, you’re told that you’ll have to repair your vehicle after you wreck it – am I not going to wreck it 18 times in a race? Speaking of races, that was the first thing I looked for. You know, an event to try. It seems they’ve adapted Burnout to the free-roaming open world concept instead of having an event menu, so you literally have to drive around to find shit to do. After 5 minutes, I found an autobody and a paint shop, which you drive through and your car is magically and instantly fixed up. At this point I was yelling at my TV and really wanting to smash some cars up. I pulled up the map to see if there was an event I could jump to, and sure enough a little race icon was present. I selected it, which did nothing. No jump to event option. No way to set a waypoint marker. It was merely a zoomed version of the mini-map that appeared on screen. So I had to drive around and find it myself. And that’s where I gave up.

I’m Not Alone

Before sitting down to rant, I jumped on the GameSpot forum to see what others thought of the demo. I snickered as I read the top topic, “demo is crap”, followed by, “Burnout meets Test Drive Unlimited?” It seems I’m not the only one that has been totally let down by this sequel. But after reading some of the topics, I’ve learned of many other changes and annoying factors. Like when you finally come across an event, but fail to complete it. There’s no quick option to restart the event. Instead, you have to find it again on your map, then drive all the way back to it and try again. And then there’s the awesome challenge mode, “Power Parking”. I can only imagine how truly awesome that challenge would be.

I was really looking forward to another edge of your seat, crazy intense, shit blowing up all over the place Burnout game. What a let down.

32 Comments

Wow a morning rant, this must have really sucked! I’ll have to check this out for myself at lunch!

You are so dead on about why the last burnout games were awesome – if they lost that.. thats a damn shame!

Couldn’t agree more on this.

I *loved* Burnout Revenge and played it to death when I first got my 360. It was one of those launch titles which made the console and Xbox Live something that really had me excited. To this date, except for FlatOut: Carnage, it’s one of the only racing games that I truly love playing.

Crashing on the last corner of a five lap race and losing your lead to the guy you’ve been holding off the entire time by inches? Loved it.

But an open world? Gees, they couldn’t move further away from the original concept and remove even more of the original love I had for the game.

Whoever decided to move to the ‘open world’ concept needs to be fired. It ruined Need for Speed and it has now seemingly ruined Burnout.

That’s a sad, sad story right there. I was looking forward to the new Burnout game now that I have an Xbox 360 since I’ve really enjoyed the last couple games on my Xbox, but from what you’ve said here, that interest is now passed. I don’t understand why game companies insist on changing everything when it was working fine before.

I remember when Goldeneye came out for the N64 and it was an amazing game for its time. Then the next 007 game came out, not by RARE but by EA I believe, and they got progressively worse from there. Quite often I find myself in a game of multiplayer Goldeneye with my cousins just for old time’s sake.

wow, that really blows that they went and fucked up such a great franchise. i sunk so many hours into burnout revenge, who can’t love going a million miles an hour and smashing the hell out of everything in sight.

i was really looking forward to playing this, i have actually been trying to beat all my current titles just so i had an open schedule for this… guess i can take my time on assassins creed.

when will the devs learn not to go and change shit. i can only imagine how frustrating this game is going to be… i think i’ll save myself another broken controller. EA FTW! <– extreme sarcasm

Wow! Cant believe this reaction. Haven’t played the demo yet but I didn’t think it was possible to blow such a good thing! Makes you wonder who they have doing the play tests! Or is this being released early due to publisher pressure?

When I saw the titled I thought "OH NO!!!!" But after reading, I’m actually really eager to get home and try this out. I’m VERY interested in the open-world Burnout. I know it’s not like past ones, but I’m ok with that. I guess we’ll see when I get home and try it out 😉

@Andrew: I think the reason I was so upset over all this change is because I was fully expecting to jump right in and be taking down cars right away. Instead, it’s this slow paced open-world with a terrible navigation system.

@Jamie: You’re right, the open world crap did take a lot out of the NFS series as well. Underground was awesome, I played it through twice. I never completely finished Underground 2 after spending so much time driving around looking for shit instead of just doing the events. At least in Most Wanted and Carbon they added the ability to do all the events from the map.

@Patrick: I never had an N64, but I still hear people like yourself talking about how great Goldeneye was.

@Jason Kriegs: Yeah, you may very well like it. I didn’t know anything about Paradise going in, so I was utterly disappointed to find it hardly resembling the Burnout I know and love.

I didn’t even know that Paradise was out on demo for the 360. Thanks for the preliminary review.

Sucks to hear they took that arcade feel out and added a whole bunch of free roam nonsense in.

BLEH

Having never really tried a Burnout game before, I gotta say it’s not that bad. I does seem to have some big faults, but crashing into crap and doing donuts is surprisingly fun. I’ll probably still buy it [long after it comes out] anyway.

Balls to the wall excitement is really want I’m after in a Burnout game. The way that this new gameplay style has been plugged to us has been: ‘a seemingless, integrated gaming environment’. But from what you’re saying this doesn’t seem to be the case.

I hope that the game turns out alright on the final release. Criterion haven’t put a foot wrong with this series yet. So it would definetly be a pity if they did.

the open-ness is made worse because you have to hunt around for events..

however.. man I laughed so hard the first time I mellllted into a wall at fullspeed.. haha it was great!

I don’t know, I tend to think this might be a revitalization of the Burnout Franchise. The more recent editions were getting stale, so they needed to change something up.

Besides, the new "features" aren’t as bad as you make them sound. The garage was a block down the street, and a damaged car has no effect on your driving, only increases your chance of a complete Wreckage on an accident. If you do crash, you instantly reset with a brand new car. It’s still the same fast paced Burnout we’re used to.

Aww!

Personally, I couldn’t stand the non-stop seizure that was Burnout Revern. I played it at my friends house and was put off from the franchise completely. Not sure why exactly but I have nothing against fast paced racing games but burnout was ridicuous!

I much prefer this more refined (and damn sweet lookin’) installment of the Burnout series. I also like how silky smooth the whole game runs, especially in online play.

One thing I have against the demo is there are no way NEAR enough jumps in it. Most of them seem to be in kinda .. out of the way places which make it hard to build up any good amount of speed before hitting on. I guess if it’s still like that in the full game I’ll be slightly put off, but for now, this has actually drawn me to liking the franchise.

Its a shame you don’t like it, I can understand where you’re coming from – I feel kinda the same about RO2. You can tell it’s gunna be all simplified and slower paced, unlike the sheer MMO that is the current version.

Dave.

I can see what you mean but would have liked the exact same game again.

It was starting to get a little bit repetitive, fun but still repetitive. I’m glad they changed it up at first I was like you wondering what had happened to the real burnout but after 10 minutes of stunting around you’ll notice that its better then ever.

Its very sandbox so you get out of it what you put in.

I do agree that the new quick restart option is terrible though.

I went back and gave it another shot this morning. Given that I wrote this rant after my very brief initial experience, I figured I owed it that much, anyway.

Unfortunately, the game didn’t do much to sway my judgement. I went through all of the events and found myself extremely frustrated with each of them.

With races and events in previous Burnout games, the course is very clear. Roads that you don’t need to take are blocked off so you can go 300 MPH from start to finish without having to worry about taking a wrong turn. In Paradise, it’s the complete opposite. You have to constantly glance up at the compass and off to the map on the side to make sure you’re going the right way. There’s the street sign indicators as well, but how annoying is that? Just one more thing to distract you from racing.

While the concept of the Stunt challenge is great, I scored like 4,000 of the required 50,000 my first run. And this is where the lack of quick retry option comes into play. I ended up at the other end of the map and had to drive all the way back to try it again.

They kind of screwed up the whole "seamless" exploration and events by turning your car around each time you start an event. I found myself quite disoriented when this happened.

Anyway, there’s people out there that are going to love this game. Most of them probably haven’t played a Burnout game before, and that’s why they can enjoy it. It looks like I’m taking a pass on Paradise, unless they fix some of the glaring issues.

I actually enjoyed the open-world aspect. The sense of speed is still there, i don’t have to go to a race to have fun, i can just drive around. If friends are online i can easily start up a race with them without going through countless menus. What really impressed me was the sense of speed with such a rust bucket. I can only imagine what it will be like with the top cars in the game.

So far the only thing i would like to see changed is in-game music. In the demo the only time there was music was during the actual races. I didn’t try to use a custom soundtrack but i hope there is music in place when the game launches. Also, i miss being able to check cars (when you’re in the right lane)…that would have been a blast in this i think.

Overall, very happy with the game. If i wanted to play Takedown or Revenge (both great games) i would just pop those in. Eagerly awaiting this release, sucks that you didn’t like it.

My initial play-through left me pretty much with the same opinion, even though I have never owned a previous Burnout game (nor played one for more than 10 minutes). However, being obsessed with destruction as I am, I played it far longer than I would have just to watch my car beautifully explode in several different ways.

Eventually I got bored with that (sort of) but but that point had actually learned a bit of the map and wanted to try out some of the events. The events again left me with somewhat of a stale taste in my mouth, the "Stunts" mode I ended up with a similarly low score of something like 4,000 points to the 50,000 required. However after trying all these events over you begin to catch the knack required and at a certain point the events "click."

Another thing that I think the demo fails to illustrate well is that there are events EVERYWHERE in the game. You don’t notice them much as most of them are disabled in the demo, but basically every single stoplight in the game is an event of some sort.

I definitely agree that the lack of a "restart event" option is sorely lacking, but I absolutely love the open sandbox environment and really see this as the only big down-side, the rest being more of sharp learning curve.

And as for the "stunts" mode… the key is to know how to add multipliers to your score (big air, smashing billboards, corkscrews, etc) and knowing how to chain stuff together. It is simple to chain as you cruise from one ramp-rich area to another simply by tapping the turbo button and keeping an eye on the little count-down clock (which tells you when a combo chain is about to be broken). After a few tries I’ve gotten combo scores of close to 200,000 points without too much effort.

And as others have mentioned… this game is gorgeous and the crashed and wrecks are a sight to be seen.

[…] Not everyone agrees with the franchise change to an open-world environment… Matt Brett sums it up with: Burnout Paradise, A Great Franchise Ruined […]

Personally, I have never really played a Burnout game before. I once played a Burnout Revenge demo and some other Burnout demo, while they were fun I would never buy one. However, I really like this game.

Other buy games for the single player experience, some buy them for the multiplayer experience, I am the later. My friend and me just go crusin around the city like it was GTA and we had a blast. Also, I prefer open city worlds compared to tight closed tracks.

However, I can see why your disappointed with the game. You have grown to love the traditional Burnout style of gameplay and then it suddenly switches. But I have spent more time with demo then any other Burnout game and I am quite enjoying myself.

This game is shaping up to be either a love it or hate it game. But there is one thing nobody can deny, it just looks so pretty. Each crash looks detailed and realistic.

I downloaded it and played it yesterday, and I have to disagree with you. It’s a demo after all… I expected the opening cinematic. I expected getting the sucky car to drive around in… They’re not going to give you access to all of the races and all of the features… Bottom line, they’re not going to give you the full game experience in a demo, and to think otherwise is crazy…

I loved Takedown and Revenge. And I think I am going to love this as well. It might help that I love NFS: Carbon (and this game seems like it borrows heavily from elements of it).

Give it a chance. Don’t pin your final thoughts on this until it comes out.

Totally disagree with you, Matt!

I’ve spent many hours playing Burnout Takedown. I didn’t like Burnout Revenge since it seemed to me the same as Takedown with better graphics and stupid speed.

Paradise is, imho, a step forward, mixing the worlds of Need For Speed (Most Wanted) and Burnout.

Nowadays is not conceivable to make a driving game (driving, not racing) that is not sandboxed, open world…

Well, just an opinion…

hey matt,

was interested to see what you had to say about paradise..

unfortunately it all seemed negative!

i had a blast rummaging, crashing, jumpin’ around the new city.. many a laughs where had at the damage and stupidity of my driving..

However i did have the same misconceptions about the whole ‘retry’ thang.. (‘What!? i have to drive all the freaking way back there!?’) … but was informed by peeps that the world would be more dynamic (start an event anywhere etc) than having to plod back and retry certain events.

fyi – from the horses mouth

http://www.criteriongames.com/burnout/paradise/de

hope you have a rad hol!

@Ben & Seth: It’s good to hear that the demo doesn’t represent the full game at all, according to Criterion. But wait, why would they release a demo that doesn’t represent the full game at all?

Their response to community criticism is cocky and arrogant and has done nothing but made this taste of Burnout Paradise all the more bitter. They basically say "fuck you" to you and I, and whoever else didn’t love the demo – after all, it is "THE best demo released all year", and clearly we (the people buying the game that will inevitably decide its fate) don’t know shit.

I can understand that they would be a little bummed and frustrated with the response, since it seemed to be of the love/hate variety. But what did they expect? Oh right, they expect us to all listen to their podcast and we should know that the demo doesn’t represent the full game, at all.

Whatever, fuck those guys. Burnout Paradise will pass me by and I’ll wave to it with my middle finger.

I agree that the Alex Ward letter was snobby, rude, insulting, and otherwise a jackassed move to make.

I didn’t like the demo, but I plan to purchase the game. Every stoplight had an event, so I don’t care much about retrying. I’ve never really played the Burnout series, so I’m not coming into this game with any pre-formed notions about how a Burnout game "should" be.

This looks fun.

[…] also totally agree with what Matt Brett has to say on this matter in his post ‘Burnout Paridise, a great franchise ruined‘.  Whilst gamers brand-new to the franchise will love it, it is fundamentally different to […]

I never really liked the prior versions of Burnout. I always wanted an open driving experience. Burnout Paridise is exactly what I have been waiting for.

Jeff

The problem you’re having is that you’re playing what you think this game should be rather than what it is. There isn’t a retry option because every single time you fail an event, there is another start point not 100 feet away from you, which gets you moving about the city, which is the game’s highlight and entire focus.

The navigation problems you’re having while racing are also a non-issue. Aside from the fact that proceeding from event to event as you go allows you to develop a mental map of the city, which route you take is almost always inconsequential against the laughably inept AI, which literally slows down to wait for you. If you don’t crash repeatedly, you will win almost every time.

This game isn’t Burnout Revenge, and it’s time to let go and stop trying to cram a square peg into a round hole.

[…] two months ago, I was hating on Burnout Paradise something fierce. And with good reason! A demo was released that poorly represented the incredible game that is the […]

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