Tuesday, 21 September 2010

Burnout Paradise Review

Could be considered an old game now, but still worth reviewing :)

EAs’ Burnout is back, after its long line of car crunching hits across 3 other platforms it is finally on the console giants of the PS3 and XBox 360.  Burnout Paradise was one of the main announcements at E3 before it was launched and was a hot topic long after its release.  However, even with all the hype, is it still the game we’ve grown to love over the years, or has it been revamped beyond recognition.
Burnout Paradise really has been designed with simplicity clearly being a goal, other than the initial starting menu; there are no other menus you need to navigate to access all of the games content. You’re dropped straight into the massive Paradise City, and fitting in with the no menus approach; you simply drive up to a set up traffic lights and begin the event. There are only a few but solid driving event types, they’re: point to point races, head to head and 8 car races, marked man where you must attempt to reach the target location while other drivers try and take you down, and of course the classic take down events where you must try and cause the set amount of other racers crash.  Other events are Stunt Runs, where you must perform jumps spins etc and earn points in a time limit, you can continue past the set time if you keep a combo going.  Then, each car has its own race, which is a time trail, winning this will unlock an upgraded version of the car completed in. Another event you can do is called Show Time, which isn’t needed to be done for anything. The other events add to your licence wins and help you upgrade your licence, Show Time however doesn’t. Show Time can be started at anytime on any road in Paradise City, in this your car bounces around, hitting other vehicles gains more momentum and points, hitting busses give multipliers and a big boost. Each road has a preset record for Show Time and they each have a time to travel along record, completing a Show Time and driving along and getting a score which beats the set record will update the roads record. These can be applied to online play, and are compared to your friends. Overall there are 120 mission objectives to compete, this number doesn’t include all the road time trails and all the Show Times which can be done for ever road in Paradise City.  

There are no licensed cars for play, but there are many approximations to the real things they’re impersonating. There are 75 basic vehicles, but that is including the better versions of the cars you can win via the time trials. Each of the cars are rated out of 10 in Speed, Boost and strength, which give you a quick summary of that the car is like. Along with the individual stats of each car, they are all in one of 3 classes, these classes being: Speed, which consist mainly of weak cars, these cars you can only use the boost when the bar is full. Aggression, these are heavy cars which can take a lot of punishment before giving up, boost is earned through aggressive driving and can be used anytime.  Stunt, these are the mid range cars, good strength and good speed and boost, but don’t excel in any specific area; they earn boost through doing as their name suggests stuns, these are also the best suited for barrel rolls etc. At the start of the game the car stats don’t play a big role, but as time goes on and you reach your second or third license having the right car with the right stats is critical.
You can tap the D-Pad at anytime during the game to bring up the multiplayer options; this is the only real menu you’ll really need to use while playing. The game still continues on as normal as this menu is a side popup menu, you may see this as a good or bad point. This menu other than for online options also allows you to choose music from your HDD if played on the PS3 to be played while in the game. This menus’ main use though is that you can choose to go online, either with random people, or invite friends to come with you in a private game. There are 50 different challenges which you and other people can partake in, some being competitive, others needing a group effort to complete. The challenges will also differ depending on how many people you’re playing with at the time. Online play can be with 2 players or up to a max of 8 players tearing up the streets of Paradise City. You can also create custom races, and save them for use later on. The whole online multiplayer aspect of the game has been seamlessly fitted into the function of the game. With the transaction from offline to online being just a distorting of the screen, there are no loading screens anywhere in the game apart from when launched, which ties in perfectly with the no menu approach taken. 
As in all Burnout games this one is no different in that speed is a crucial aspect of game play, and as in the other games, it feels and looks great.  The sense of acceleration and movement is amazing as always, enhanced by the abundance of roadside objects, and as you have to manoeuvre the moving maze of cars. You must build up your boost meter from avoiding traffic, driving the wrong way down roads, and performing stuns anywhere possible. Unleashing the boost earned will give you an incredibly increase in speed, which will require a lot of skill to master in the faster cars.  Each car reacts differently, with steering differing from car to car etc,  but you’ll get the hang of each after a couple of miles.  Jumps are everywhere, as ramps or just as buildings in Paradise City, no where seems without areas to explore. The open world of Paradise City is completely different to the previous games; this open world can be good, but also bad. It can be extremely fun to explore all over the map, finding jumps and billboards. All this exploration will also review faster routes round the map which will be great use in races, but all these little short cuts can make Paradise City, a mess to drive though, and one wrong turn can send you 200mph in the wrong direction. Which leads on to that to stop a race or any other even if it is clear to you that you can’t win, you simply stop for car for a few seconds and the race ends.   

The graphics of Burnout Paradise are stunning, looking slightly better on the Play Station 3, in a rare case of it having been initially made on the platform and then ported over to the 360.  As in all racing games frame rate is of upmost importance, for when you have 8 cars trying to smash each other up travelling down a highway is amazing how this game never skips, it always runs smooth. There are still a few cases of scene pop in but you’ll only notice if you’re looking close enough for it. Even if you do notice some, when you consider the size, depth and speed of the game it is forgiving. The cars look and handle as close to the real things are you can get in a video game of this type, though they’re not at Grand Turismo 5 level.  In its place instead of having super high rendered cars they decided to put far more effort into the environment of Paradise City.  This makes the whole experience of Burnout Paradise far more immersive than if they had poured more time and effort into the cars which for the most part you only see the back of.  The cars however are beautiful in how the look when driving and when you inevitably crash and wreck the car. The experience is so realistic for that of a video game, the crashes look magnificent as do that of the surroundings but they’re not over done. The way the sheet metal crumbles and windscreens shatter is so akin to how you would picture it happening in real life, with debris scattering everywhere; all of this in keeping with a perfect physics engine which make it hard to get mad when you crash as you’ll be admiring each and every impact. There is the ever present small problem of that there are no pedestrians or drivers anywhere in the game, this doesn’t affect how the game plays but would have been a nice touch. The reason there are no pedestrians etc in the game is because if there were the games’ rating of 3+ would have had to have been raised, causing a reduction in the amount of games which could be sold.  
Overall Burnout Paradise is a well rounded game, flawless graphics mixed with hours of play time, means it’ll be a long time before you’re looking for another driving game. Countless hours will be spent on the single player, completing all the events and unlocking all the cars. Online is also valuable, not as much time will be spent as on the single player mode, but racing against your friends and wrecking strangers online won’t get boring any time soon.
Burnout Paradise
Perfect graphics, addictive online and offline modes, nothing can be said to improve this game. 


  1. I don't really play racing games, but I might as well start. This review really got me pumpin', bro, thanks!

  2. One of the best racing games for me, right under Forza 3