Burnout Paradise, a Great Franchise Returns!

About 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 full Burnout Paradise experience. I’ve never seen an upset over a demo quite like this, and it definitely proves that they don’t work for every game. Such is the case with Burnout Paradise. Perhaps if the demo was delivered with a disclaimer and a bit of an explanation as to what had changed and what’s been stripped out of the demo, it would have been better received. Regardless, I’m fully stoked to pass on the word that Burnout Paradise is yet another fantastic game in the Burnout series!

Burnout Paradise

New & Improved

Burnout Paradise has taken the Burnout franchise in an entirely new direction, and just about every aspect of it works well. The most prominent change is the large open world environment. There’s no more huge list or ladder of events. Events take place at every intersection that has a set of stop-lights. And with the exception of a couple of the rural areas, you won’t have to travel very far to get to one. Each event has an associated colour, which shows up as a circle on your mini-map. So if you feel like blowing through all of the Road Rages events, it’s not overly difficult to find them. Although, a GPS/waypoint system would have been nice since you aren’t able to retry a failed event – setting a waypoint marker and heading back seems like the next best thing, but sadly neither made it into the game. Which makes navigating a little tedious at times. As much as I love exploring the city, I still miss the retry option and would have also liked the ability to abandon an event.

Through-out the city, there are shops that can help you out. Junk Yards house your vehicles, while gas stations recharge your boost, auto repair shops fix your busted ride, and paint shops give you a new random paint job (you can customize your vehicle to your liking in the Junk Yard as well). Gas stations and auto repairs can actually be used during events, which can keep you taking dudes down in a Road Rage for a ridiculously long time.

Vehicles have always been ranked by speed, boost, and strength. Additionally, there are 3 car classes in Paradise which give a bit more variety to the arsenal of vehicles at your disposal – speed, stunt and aggression. Speed class cars are the only ones that take some getting used to. As you would assume, they’re built for speed, so they’re typically smaller, lighter and the weakest of the bunch. The advantage they have comes with a slight disadvantage – you can only use your boost when it’s full. But once activated, you have infinite boost until your release the boost button or wreck. Once your boost meter empties, you get a Burnout, which acts as a multiplier and keeps you moving at ridiculously high speeds. Aggression class cars are the toughest of the bunch, but lack in areas like steering. Great for Road Rage and Marked Man events – it’s not hard to take down rival vehicles, and they barely budge when hit by others. Stunt class is basically the middle road, and the more traditional vehicles. I tend to use a stunt class car the most.

Sound & Visuals

Being the first true “next-gen” Burnout title (Burnout Revenge was a port of the Xbox/PS2 game), Paradise improves in every way you would expect it to. It looks fantastic, sounds great and the wrecks are completely over-the-top awesome! In some cases, after a tremendous wreck, your vehicle might land back on its wheels – and if it still has all four in tact, there’s a good chance you’re going to drive away and keep on racing. I laugh out loud nearly every time this happens as it’s like watching someone get their ass handed to them, only to get back up and keep on trucking. I do have a couple of beefs with the wrecks, though – there’s no more aftertouch takedowns, and some of the super slow-mo sequences are simply too slow and too long.

One thing I was surprised about, was the not-so-stellar soundtrack this time around. The Burnout games have traditionally had great soundtracks. I’ve actually been turned onto a couple of bands from prior games in the series. Not so much this time around. Avril Lavigne’s, “Girlfriend” made it into the game. Enough said. Needless to say, if you have an Xbox 360 and PS3, you’ll want to play it on the 360 for the custom soundtrack option.

Exploration, Events & Online

Yes, the city is jam-packed with events at every stop-light, but there’s so much more to do! I’ve spent hours just driving around, looking for gates (there’s 400 of them) and billboards (120) to smash through, and super jumps (50) to launch off. Of course, there’s Achievements for smashing all of them and hitting all of the super jumps, which keeps me on the look-out every time I play.

The typical events are back, with the exception of Crash which has been replaced by Showtime. Unfortunately, Showtime doesn’t compare to the tried-and-true Crash mode that I’ve come to know and love. The difference, is that Crash mode used to be a designated area, prepped and ready for you to wreak havoc on. Usually equipped with massive ramps to launch you into a bustling intersection. Showtime is initiated whenever you feel like fucking shit up. You slam on the left and right bumpers and watch your vehicle turn, then start to barrel-roll. Tapping the A button keeps you flipping through the air and flying into passers-by. It can be fun, but the crashbreaker from Burnout Revenge was the absolute best! Nothing beats jamming the B button as fast as you can until your vehicle explodes at a near atomic magnitude.

Marked Man, a new addition to Paradise, is a cat and mouse type mode where you have to out-run an onslaught of heavy cars and reach the finish line in one piece. I’ve really enjoyed these events once I got to know the city and where the different shops are located. It’s pretty awesome being able to repair your car from a critical state when you’re taking a beating.

As each stop-light has an event for you, each road has a set of “road rules” A Showtime and time record. Hitting up on the d-pad will shows the records you hold as you drive around, and also which of your friends have dominated each road. I haven’t really gotten into this end of the game yet, as I’m still focusing on getting my Burnout license.

Same goes for the multiplayer – I know it’s very much integrated into the game, but I haven’t spent any time with it at this point. Hitting right on the d-pad pulls up the multiplayer game modes and instant access to your friends. So you can roll and wreck with your buddies or jump into some public matches.

I Stand Corrected

For the most part, I like the direction Paradise has taken the Burnout series. I’ve put over 15 hours into it already, and have lots left to do. So it seems as though I’ll be playing this game for some time to come.

I was convinced to pick-up Paradise after watching the GameSpot video review. It just happened to be Alex Navarro‘s last review, but he was in the exact position I was going into Paradise – loved previous Burnout games, skeptical about the open world, and hated the demo. But then turns around to give the game a 9 out of 10. After that, I bought it without hesitation and have not regretted it.

Rating: 4/5

Burnout Paradise

18 Responses to “Burnout Paradise, a Great Franchise Returns!”

  1. So would you consider Paradise to be a good game to play with friends (not over Xbox Live)?

    I really enjoyed the previous Burnout games, but never really played them by myself. I always had a great time taking turns with my friends and making a drinking game out of it. 😛

    I want to get Paradise and do the same thing, but like you said, the demo was horrible and completely turned me off from the game. So I'm still unsure if this game would be a good game to play among friends.

    • Funny you'd ask that. I played Burnout 3 and Revenge with my wife, handing the controller back-and-forth. While you could still do this with Paradise, it wouldn't work quite as well. You always have to drive to an event, and if there's a certain type of event you want to do, you have to first find the closest one on the map, then drive to it.

  2. "….and would have also liked the ability to abandon an event."

    You actually can abandon an event. Just keep your stationary during an event for a couple of seconds and it exits the event.

    • What I normally do is go into Showtime mode and just let it run out of boost.

      I recall a race exiting after I started going the opposite way, and I'm pretty sure I tried just sitting there once or twice. I'll have to give that another go.

      • Sometimes it takes a little bit longer (usually if there is an opponent still within rendering distance) but if you stop completely and don't hold the brake it will end the event after a god 3-5 seconds.

        Annoyingly it also sometimes ends an event when you go in reverse… especially annoying for Marked Man events where you quickly reverse to catch a shortcut you missed to avoid the take-down cars.

  3. After what you said about the demo I had to have a go of it, it was the first time I had touched Burnout and wasn't impressed in the slightest.

    I will trust your judgement Matt and have a go at the game, I will try to go in to it with an open mind.

    • Since you haven't played a Burnout game before, there's a good chance you'll enjoy even more than those who have. The demo really was a poor representation of the game. Try and pretend it never existed. 😉

  4. hey Matt,

    i picked it up the other day and I agree with your review. Definitely a step forward in the series.

    why are takedowns soo satisfying?? 🙂

  5. I spent 3 Hours yesterday just driving around finding all 120 events! It's a really cool city and I have had great fun playing it.

    The seemless intergration with the online world is very cool and I'm really glad I picked it up.

    • I did that one night too, Dave. There was one I couldn't find, after driving around for about and hour or so I finally gave up. The next day I found it at a toll on the freeway.

  6. I was with you on the demo and due to your comments and some other video I had seen on the game, I went and picked it up tonight. Haven't gotten on it yet but look forward to it.

  7. wow, i'm surprised you ended up liking the game much more than you had anticipated. i was able to check it out the other day and although i feel the game is decent, it really pisses me off.

    i hate that the game is so heavily free roam based. while i do enjoy driving around and finding jumps and billboards, i hate that if i fail a race, i have to drive back to the event to re-try it. i loved how in revenge you could just hit "start, restart race". another irritating thing is you can't "traffic check" or hit cars going the same direction as you.

    i'll admit that it adds a level of difficulty to the game but come on, burnout is supposed to be like that, this isn't NFS.

    • I'm so glad they got rid of traffic checking. Yes, Burnout is over-the-top, ridiculous racing – but rear-ending cars and causing them to fly hundreds of feet in front of you is just retarded. Not having that ability definitely makes it more difficult, which to me keeps it exciting.

  8. I was in the same boat as you, I really didn't like the demo, it turned me off the game. However, having a Gamefly subscription, I succumbed to online hype and rented the game. Next thing I know, I'm hooked and worked my way up to a Burnout License.

    I'm also one of those that never played the previous games in the series. Although I did buy Takedown when it became available on Xbox Originals on Marketplace and played it a lot before Paradise came out. I love Takedown a lot, but Paradise added a new flavor to the series, and I think they did a good job.

  9. Yeah, I bought Burnout Paradise on the day and released and played it everyday for two weeks. I got my Elite license as well as three carbon cars (400 breakables, 120 billboards, and 40 super jumps). This game is a blast. The Vision camera adds tones of excitement to the races.