I felt sort of like a chump for making a beeline for Burnout Paradise at EA's media event today. Here I am, surrounded by games that won't come out for months, and I make a beeline for a game that I've already sunk like 150 hours of playtime into. But make no mistake, this wasn't some nostalgia trip. EA was showing off the next free downloadable update for the game. Formerly codenamed Davis, this update is now better known as Burnout Bikes, and it will add motorcycles and plenty of things to do while riding them.
This is, of course, the first time that motorcycles have entered the Burnout world. While bikes don't have any sort of boost meter, that's OK because they're wicked fast, especially if you lean forward and tuck. Leaning back will, naturally, let you pop wheelies. When you crash a bike, the rider almost immediately disappears, which is the only way to keep the game's E10+ rating intact. Burnout's never been about grisly human violence, so this doesn't seem out of line at all. The bikes bang up a bit, but don't fly apart like their four-wheeled counterparts when you crash.
Having played the game a lot, the bikes felt different, but not too crazy. They're controllable and seem to fit right in. There will be some new single-player stuff to do on bikes, as well as additional timed challenges to perform online on bikes.
This update will also bring the moon to Paradise City by way of a new day/night cycle. There will be multiple settings for the cycle. You can set it to match up with the actual time in your area or set it up on an accelerated cycle, which goes through 24 hours in 24 minutes. At different times of day, the traffic patterns will change, and things will generally thin out at night, giving you fewer on-road obstacles to worry about. Time Road Rules, which track how fast you can get from one end of a road to another, have been broken up into daytime records and nighttime records to prevent the daytime scores from becoming totally irrelevant.
It seems like a sound update and, hey, you can't beat the price. In addition to showing this, EA also announced that the game is coming to the PlayStation Network this Fall. That means the game will be totally downloadable for $29.99. This will be the same experience that players with a disc have, and it will incorporate all the free updates that have been released so far. It sounds like the download will be under 2GB.
As a guy who plays a lot of games both for work-related purposes and because, you know, I like them, I tend to move on from one game to the next pretty quickly. Burnout Paradise was already a game that stuck with me quite a bit the way it was initially released, and these free updates have kept me thinking about Burnout all year. Expect more news on Burnout Paradise--specifically the first public showing of the PC release--to come out of Leipzig later this month.