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