Burnout Paradise Review
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Burnout Paradise is the freshest racing experience in a long time. This complete re-invention of the series revitalizes the racing genre, immersing players in a true paradise.
- Remarkable “flow,” especially regarding the seamless online integration
- Incredibly detailed graphics with spectacular crashes
- Sheer amount of bang for your buck
- Paradise City is more accurately Paradise Ghost Town
- Showtime, while fun, is no replacement for the old Crash mode
Ever since its meager beginnings in the heart of Criterion Games, Burnout has always been about heart-throbbing speed followed by adrenaline-fueled crashes. That’s the basic formula, and Burnout Paradise certainly doesn’t deviate from it.
However, what this latest installment does do differently from past Burnouts - and in fact, from all other racers on the market - is give the player a completely open world in which to play. Criterion took a major risk when designing this game by eschewing the industry standard, and their decision has undoubtedly paid off.
Burnout Paradise is a prime example of ‘flow’ in games. There are nearly no menus to navigate, and the few that are present work seamlessly into the title. For example, the “Easy Drive” online menu is relegated entirely to the D-Pad, thus the player can continue driving while controlling it. Another aspect that helps the game flow lies in the complete absence of loading; there is essentially no loading to experience after the initial start-up screen. What truly creates flow though isn’t nifty ideas or technical tricks. Only through freeform gameplay, in which the player can create his or her own experience, can this concept of flow develop, and Burnout Paradise contains exactly that.
The entirety of Paradise City is open to you from the beginning of the game, no unlocking of areas necessary. You only begin with one beat-up car, which you must take to an auto repair to fix up. From there, you’ll most likely spend your first hour or so crashing through Paradise City’s hundreds of fences (which signify shortcuts), smashing through the many breakable billboards off of a plethora of insane jumps, and just generally becoming familiar with your surroundings at 150 miles an hour. If at any time you wish to participate in an event, just drive into an intersection, do a burnout (hold gas and break at the same time, R2 and L2 respectively), and get going.
There are three varying classes of cars, which span the 75 vehicles in Burnout Paradise: Stunt, Speed and Aggression. Stunt cars are the most maneuverable, perfect for drifting and jumping. Speed cars specialize in boosting; they can potentially go on forever if you’re able to chain together Burnouts, which can only be started with a full boost meter. Finally, Aggression vehicles aren’t the fastest or the swiftest, but if you need to take someone out, they’ll do the job just fine.
There are five differing types of events within Paradise: Race, Road Rage, Marked Man, Stunt Run, and Burning Route. Each event is tied to one of Paradise City’s 120 diverse intersections. Completing events often releases one of the 75 drivable cars into the city, which at random times on will whiz by you. When you see one (they’re not that hard to spot or hear when they show up), take it down to send it to one of five junkyards, where you’ll be able to pick it up to use as your own. Completing multiple events garners a higher class of license, which in turn allows for faster or better cars.
Races are the most straightforward event type, although they are still completely dissimilar from what you’re likely accustomed to. Getting from point A to point B is a lot different when there’s dozens of overlapping routes on which to travel. The street signs present on the top of your screen recommend the quickest standard route, which helps alleviate the burden on players unfamiliar with Paradise. Although shortcuts are often quicker, you’ll have to figure them out yourself, not a particularly easy task while racing down the roads of Paradise City. Burning Routes are similar to races, but there are no other competitors racing. This leaves you in an epic battle between your car and a ticking clock as you attempt to reach one of eight final destinations on the edges of Paradise City within the time limit. Unlike races, Burning Route events require you to use a specific car, and are therefore the only events that don’t reappear each time you obtain an upgraded license.
Road Rage and Marked Man events are fundamentally parallels of each other. In Road Rage, you’re given a set amount of “takedowns” to achieve and ... (continued on next page)