Best in the Series
When first playing Burnout Paradise it may seem like the developer, Criterion Games, decided to abandon the old Burnout formula and attempt to take the series into uncharted waters by giving the player an entire city to race, and more likely crash, through. Then after the first few hours it becomes clear that that change was probably for the better. Paradise City will be fairly difficult to navigate at first, but as soon as you learn where the finish lines are located and the fastest routes to get to them the game becomes extremely fun. Even searching for the collectibles (i.e. jumps, gates, and billboards) have been made more enjoyable due to the fact that many require you to preform some kind jump or other maneuver in order to get to them. It is equally exciting when you can string multiple jumps, billboards, and gate-smashes together.
Starting out in Paradise City is pretty simple, you get a low-level car and a learner's permit and are told to accumulate enough wins to get to the next license. To unlock more powerful cars, you must win events and then takedown the cars as they cruise the streets of Paradise. You only have to get a couple wins to get your first license, but as you progress through the game it takes more and more wins to graduate to the next license as each event becomes increasingly more difficult. There are fives types of events scattered around the city, all of which can be completed in any order and (if won) are added to your license. One of the first events you will probably want to try is a race, but unlike Burnout games of the past you aren't given a specific track to race through. Instead you are told to race to one of the eight points on the map that are designated as "finish lines". The route you take to the finish is totally up to you, though I will say that following the other cars isn't always the best option.
Another racing-type event is Marked Man, in which you must get to one of the finish lines before your vehicle is destroyed by a group of pursuing sports cars. Just like races, you must find the fastest way to the given finish line to win. The last 'get from A to B' event is a Burning Route, which is this game's version of a time trial. Each time you get a new car it unlocks a Burning Route for that vehicle, where you must get from start to finish in a given amount of time. If you win you are rewarded with a sometimes better version of that car. I say "sometimes" because I have found that in some cases the original is better. One of the more challenging events is Stunt Run, where you must score a set number of points before time runs out. Points are awarded for drifts, jumps, boosting, spins, and barrel rolls while multipliers are given for airtime, smashing through billboards, and most of the stunts previously mentioned.
The last of the five events, and by far my most favorite, is Road Rage. Road Rage events are similar to those in Burnouts of the past, but there are a few key differences. For one thing it can become very easy to get an incredible amount of takedowns if you can manage to repair your car before it gets totaled. Another difference is that because you have an entire city at your disposal, it is wise that you plan routes to take so you can do maximum damage. Getting 50-60 takedowns an event is quite possible with just a little planning.
Now that I've talked about the ways to get awesome cars, what better way to show off your awesomeness then to smash your beautiful car into someone else's beautiful car online! The online portion of Burnout Paradise is one of the more thrilling experiences I've had over the internet. Of course you have your ranked and unranked races, but there's also Freeburn Online, where you and up to seven other people can roam around the city and crash into each other, set up races, and complete online challenges. Teamwork is a big factor when trying to complete challenges since it requires the cooperation of everyone playing, so having a headset is a plus. One interesting feature is the way camera support is used in the game. Not only is the camera used for your license photo, but every time you win a race or are taken down by another player it takes a snapshot for everyone else to see. As of this post I thankfully have not received any pictures of someones 'privates', and hopefully it stays that way.
As I'm sure everyone knows, everything has its good and bad. Sadly Burnout Paradise has a few problems that should be discussed. First whenever you are in an off-line event and you lose, there isn't any kind of retry feature which means that if you want to try the same event again you must drive all the way back to the start. This can become quite frustrating when you try to get your Burnout Elite license since you have to win every event in the city. Another problem I've had is with the camera being set too low behind some cars. In smaller cars the camera is set so low you sometimes can't see if there is a car in front of you. It is really more of an annoyance than anything else. At times the online play can be annoying as well. As I said earlier a headset is a big plus because some challenges require communication between players. I've been in a few games where our party could not complete a challenge because one player couldn't hear us or just didn't care. Also if someone quits during a challenge it is canceled, which can also be frustrating since certain objectives require a certain number of players.
All in all Burnout Paradise is an incredibly fun and exciting racing game, though a few problems could sadly turn some people away. Even though they aren't huge problems, they may become enough of a hindrance that a select few might want to put the controller down and try something else.