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PLATFORM: Xbox 360, PS3
ESRB RATING: E
DEVELOPER: Criterion Games
“Burnout in the big city!”
Burnout Paradise takes the series in a whole new direction. Instead of picking set races or challenges you’re thrown into a wide open world that’s completely accessible from the very start. You can go anywhere and explore anything, and that’s actually half of the fun. There’s a ton of hidden areas and shortcuts to find.
In fact, it’s a little overwhelming at first. At almost every intersection is another event to start up. You’ll find races, time trials, and even the best new mode- Marked Man, where you’re the poor sucker trying to get to a checkpoint before these big, heavy cars try to knock you off the road. All around the place are a ton of gates to crash through and billboards to break by hitting jumps, and the world is pretty massive. The exploration is most of the fun, though.
The controls are a tiny bit different from the last titles. Now we have a e-brake that you can hit with the X button, that’ll spin you around nicely. You’ll need it for quick turns around the city. A quick hit of both bumpers will send you into Showtime, the pseudo-Crash mode for this game (more on that later).
The best part of the whole game is the way the world feels. Races feel like real street races, and you’re able to take any path to get there that you want, or just crash everyone out of the race. After a few races you’ll hear (over the in-game radio) about cars driving around the city. Take those special cars down and the crashed cars will be towed back to the Junk Yard and added to your collection. It’s a clever way to make adding new cars to your inventory fun, as the feeling you get when you see one and chase him around the city is exhilarating. You’ll see him speed right by you and genuinely want to take that motherfucker down. There’s going to be a lot of screaming and yelling at the screen if you take a turn wrong or hit some traffic….
Another way to add cars to your garage is to do Burning Laps. Each car has a location where you can start a specific race for it. If you get to the end in a certain amount of time you’ll get an upgraded version of the car. This is great if you’re fond of one particular car and would like to use a more souped-up version of it.
The cars add a lot to the style of the game. There are three different types of cars you can drive- Stunt cars, Speed cars, and Aggression cars. All of them do exactly what their labels say. The Speed ones will remind you of the first Burnout… you’ll only be able to hit the boost when your meter is full, and you’ll chain them together the same way in the older games. Stunt cars are of course good for jumps and tricks and speeding around avoiding people, and Aggression cars are heavy, able to knock other cars around (traffic check!) and will gain boost when you smash up other cars. These different types allow people to play the game their own way, and it works beautifully.
Multiplayer’s just as fun, and adds a lot to the feel of chasing someone around the city. The game cleverly uses the Xbox vision camera to snap pics of people when you knock them out, and while most people seem to have their camera aimed at a couch, once in a while you’ll get a great shot of someone screaming. They get added to your collection as a trophy of sorts.
Even when you’re in your single player mode, you’ll be competing against your friends online. Every single street in the game has two records you can break. One’s a time trial where you test how fast you can drive down the street, and the other is the new Showtime mode. Showtime’s a helluva lot of fun. Hitting both bumpers sends you into a skid, and then end over end. You’ll control your car as it smashes into all the traffic in your path. Hitting the A button will cause your car to leap up in the air, and you’ll control it for maximum damage. You can go on and on as long as you keep hitting things.
Once you’ve beaten both records, you’ll “own” that road. A notice will be sent to your friends if you beat their record, which causes quite a bit of back and forth as you’ll try to get the best time or score. It’s pretty great, a nice way to have people competing for a high score.
In short- controls great, a whole lot to do, and fun as hell. What’s not to like?
Well, a couple of things. First off, there’s no Crash mode. It was the best part of the previous games, and it’s sad to see it missing here, but it’s not a deal-killer. There’s also no more Aftertouch, so if you crash during a race, you’ll have to catch up to your opponents the old-fashioned way.
People might also hate that there’s no quick way of restarting a failed race, and you’ll be forced to head all the way back to the beginning to do it over again. Thankfully, there’s so much to do there (with the Time Trials and Showtime modes) that you’ll never be bored.
The biggest fault one can find with the game is that it doesn’t have an offline multiplayer mode. I’m not sure why, but maybe the systems can’t handle two cars on one screen in a huge city. It is a shame, but the online more than makes up for it.
So, yes, it’s not absolutely perfect, but it’s damn close.
The graphics are absolutely beautiful… just wait till you see the crashes. The angle and speed that you have as you head into the crash contribute to how your car gets wrecked, and each one looks different. Seeing the wheels pop off and your hood crumple as glass and pieces of metal fly everywhere just never gets old. Never. The fact that you can sometimes drive away from a crash makes things that much sweeter… you won’t believe some of the accidents you survive.
The series has always been known for the sense of speed it gives you, and this one’s no exception. When you get your car up to the top speeds you really feel like you’re a tiny mistake away from losing control of your vehicle, and many times you will. It’s exciting and will literally leave you at the edge of your seat as you try and see and upcoming vehicles or turns.
But the best part about this game? No loading times. None. The game takes a while to start up but once you’re in the game everything starts within seconds. That’s right, races start up almost instantly, and jumping online is a couple of button presses away. You’ll connect to an online match right away and be playing against opponents in the same spot you were driving in single player. It’s incredibly easy and intuitive, and makes the place feel much more like a real world. Also helpful is how there are easily identifiable landmarks all over Paradise City, so you can tell where you are just by the look of things.
The soundtrack is the best “EA Trax” one yet, but that’s almost like saying that this is the best fart you’ve ever smelled. It’s not exactly good praise, and indeed, you’ll soon get tired of it. Except for Soundgarden’s Rusty Cage. That song is perfect.
Even the good tracks here aren’t ones that are made for racing. Twisted Sister’s “I Wanna Rock” may be a classic song, but it’s better for blasting rebelliously against your parents in your bedroom than using it for cruising music. But yeah, half of the soundtrack is garbage. Whoever out there that’s paying money to all these goddamn emo bands better stop it, cause these whiny bitches have infested this game. The last thing I want to hear when I’m in a road race is some effeminate bitch complaining about his girlfriend. Fuck you, emo.
Thankfully you can just rip stuff to your hard drive, of course. Do that now to prepare…
The narrator/radio jockey DJ Atomika (he gives you updates on things going around the city, in such a cool, hip style!) is still irritating, but nowhere near as bad as in the demo. You can turn him off if you want, but it’s actually pretty interesting how he’ll be used later on… people can submit their own questions to EA and have them answered “live on the air”, so to speak. It’s a pretty cool idea and it’s just a shame that he’s such a tool.
Let’s just put it this way. I’ve played Burnout Paradise for 17 hours and have unlocked 32% of the game. I see myself playing this one for a long, long time.
With a ton of things to do in the single player game and 400 online challenges, you’ll be at this one a while. There are also races you can compete in, but unfortunately they’re just straight-up races. No knockout challenges or Marked Man modes, which would have been awesome (can you imagine?) Still a ton of fun, and just crashing into your friends and chasing around the city has a great feel to it.
Huge replay value.
Absolutely amazing arcade racer, the perfect natural progression for the series. I’m confused by people who don’t like the open-world aspect of this one- if you want the old feel, just pick up Burnout Revenge for the 360! I pretty much guarantee you that it’ll take you months to ever get golds in every single race and event… there are hundreds. But for those of you looking for the next revelation in racing games, this is a must-buy. If you do get it, look me up (“Creature Corner”)…. I’m always looking for more online rivals.