Hey guys, thanks for clicking in. A bit about why I’m blogging: I rant on a lot of things. And weirdly, I usually don't understand why people would like games i find bad, and why they hate games i find amazing. Opinions. But rather than just trying to “win” every argument with "EVERYONE HAS THEIR OPINIONS RESPECT MINE AND FUCK YOU", I would like to look into the WHY of things. I want to understand why people think so, and I want people to also try to understand my perspective. So here I am, sitting in my room, blogging about video games.
Read me Rant on: Burnout Paradise
Burnout Paradise has some of the best car handling I’ve played in a game. I’ll give you that. But the racing part, is what I thought was abysmal. I played up to 20 or so A-ranked matches until I came to the conclusion that I’ve had enough. You know what? Even GTA4 is a better racing game than this.
Pretty ballsy statement but you know what’s another ballsy move? Not having a map GPS. And that is the sole reason why Burnout Paradise just isn’t that great. I’ll admit. I do suck at this game. I sigh at my own suckage. Most of the races I’ve won were probably out of luck. But not having a map GPS led to a foundational problem about it being a racing game.
Criterion made a decision not to have a map GPS. Those things when you drive around the mini-map kinda highlights for you the “shortest” route? Ya that one in GTA. And for those who don’t really know how the racing works in the game, you are given the same start and finish locations and you have to basically trek through the open-world city faster than the other racers.
I haven’t read/watched any design documents on the making, so I wouldn’t know for sure but I’ll just go head in and assume WHY Criterion made that decision: They want the players to learn the city, the streets, and be familiar with all the shortcuts you would f… fuck it. It’s a damn bad decision. No one, absolutely no one, can remember all the routes and streets. I can RECOGNIZE some landmarks but honestly we're not on some sight-seeing tour; it's a gawddamn race. It’s only natural I want to get to the finishline as fast as possible. And no, I’m not going to remember your video game streets, especially when they don’t look all that different. Often I go through shortcuts only to find I went off-track. So much for a “shortcut”. Throughout the 10 or so hours I’ve put in the game I find myself constantly having to pop up my map to see where my destination is, and what route I should take. You can see how this immediately breaks the speedy flow of a racing game.
Criterion made another weird decision by not including a GPS that works, and giving you a shitty GPS. It’s on the top of the screen, it shows the direction of the finishline, and the street names. Okay I can see Criterion is trying really hard to encourage players to drive their own way as long as they get there. Point is, I can’t without having to pause at every intersection. When you are at the intersection, street names pop out left and right of the street you are on, and flash to indicate you should turn left or right. So there is some form of a GPS in the game. (Aha suck on that hater.)
It’s not really a problem until you get faster cars at higher tier races – the “GPS” is useless. You see, when you’re at high speed and nitroing with all this motion blur on, your brain tends to focus on the road ahead of you. Not only cuz the ring of motion blur tricks your mind into doing that, but also because you know you the consequence if you crash into something. And you often do. I don’t think I’ve ever hated slow-motion in a game this much.
Now comes the problem of the interface/HUD. It is not effective. Look:
There are FOUR areas of focus.
1. You look at the road ahead and the oncoming cars, if you crash, you’re screwed. Or you may find a shortcut if you are lucky to make it through.
2. You look at the “GPS” to see when you really need to turn
3. You look at your nitro bar and see if you are actually recharging it when going on an opposite lane. You can use your peripheral vision, but still.
4. You look at the mini-map because you know the “GPS” in 2 doesn’t really work.
Oh don’t forget you’re going 200miles per hour all the while doing that.
In most track racing games, you look to one. You look to the front. That’s it. The route is fixed and it’s the matter of how to make a good fruitful turn, not where to go.
In real-life driving, normally under safe situations you look to two. What is in front, what is in the back. We have voiced GPS’s to minimize having to look to even more places.
In other open-world racing games, you look to two. What is ahead, and what the route your GPS tells you to follow on the minimap is.
You never lose focus or panic too much. You really shouldn’t. This game is giving me sweaty hands. My eyeballs move like I’m in REM sleep or something. I look to the bottom right to get a sense of where I should turn. I look to the top to see if this is the right intersection to turn, if I were to trust the game. I look to the bottom left to see if my nitro meter is ACTUALLY charging cuz running against traffic is kinda risky, you know, like in real-life…
Then I fucking crash.
I stare at the slow-motion replay with the anger and frustration gushing out from my heart. I feel the flames burning. I wanna wreck something real bad. And I know it’s not my in-game car that I just did.
Am I too careless? Or is the human brain not supposed to take in all this clutter? I believe in the latter. The HUD isn’t effectively communicating stuff to the player. As I said before, GTA4 racing (albeit horrible handling), communicates the route clearly so you can focus on the road. Open-world racing? Criterion I don’t think you’re doing it right. A GPS with a fast re-route function is the best option. It won’t distract players from looking for shortcuts, as long as the GPS knows how to get to the point. It even gives players more time to focus on the road. No fancy ass street signs and compasses and shit that’s actually counter-intuitive.
Burnout Paradise has great handling and it’s amazing to drive the cars. It may be a good driving game, but it sure hell is not a good racing game. Now you see why I didn’t like this game.
How about you Giantbomb, or the Paradise lovers, justify your love.