broken_pixel's Burnout Paradise (PlayStation 3) review

Burnoult Paradise : a true paradise

Since it was first released Burnout has been an arcade racer. A crazy arcade racer, full with adrenalin, crashes and fast paced action. You see, there are two types of racer, the arcade race like Burnout, Forza and Grand Turismo. And there is the free - roaming racers, like Need for Speed and Midnight Club. Both stay in their own territory, and both remained popular. But now Burnout has made the jump to free roaming(and Need for Speed has made the jump to Arcade racing, funny eh). And, my god is it good.

Burnout doesn’t really have a story, but the premise is, you are a driver that arrives Paradise City and you have to work your way up the ranks by getting different classes of Drivers Licence. You start off with a learners permit then get a D ranking and you carry on working your way up to Criterion Elite (S ranking). You get higher rankings by completing races. The more races you win, the higher ranking you get. Simple.

The controls are very basic. R2 is accelerate, the left analogue stick is used to steer (the SIXAXIS can also be used to steer, but that’s not the best option), square is used to hand break (or ‘E - Break’ as they call it in game), X is to use boost, triangle is to change views, L1 is rear view, L2 is break/reverse, next EA Trax song, right and left on the D-Pad is used to open/close Easy Drive menu, R2 and L2 held together at a intersection starts a event and holding R1 and L1 activates show time mode.

The games biggest feature is Paradise City itself. Burnout has always stuck to arcade racing, but Criterion Games have outdone themselves on their switch to open world. There is 250 miles of open world, which might not sound like much, but when you sit down a play the game you see the sheer scale of the city. And every time you go round you will discover something new. You go down a road, a hour later you might go down the same road and see a shortcut you didn’t see last time. And with that size, you can fit a lot of things into it. There are 120 events to choose from, 250 miles of open road, 75 different cars, 50 super jumps, 120 billboards, 400 smash gates and five different event category. There is a downside to all this open world-ness, which could have been avoided. If you fail a event, that’s it, you have to go back to where the event started, which could mean you might have to go all the way across Paradise City for it. But then the finishing point is normally near a junction, so it evens it out really.

Five events might sound puny, but if you divide 120 by 5 you get 40. That’s 40 events in each category. And you will never have to look around for these events, as there is one at every junction. The five events are :

Another new feature is Showtime mode, which has replaced Crash mode. You need to win 4 events before you can activate it for the first time. To enter Showtime mode you press R1 and L1 at any time. When you enter showtime your car flips onto its side start bouncing on the ground and you try and hit cars. When you hit a car you get points, the bigger the car the more points you get. You also get boost, the more boost you get the longer you will go on for. To bounce, you press X, when you bounce you use up boost.

Graphically, Burnout Paradise is amazing. One of the first thing you see when you start up Burnout Paradise is the city, and it is just incredible how that Criterion can keep the graphics up to that standard, with the size of the city and all that’s going on. All the locations looks top notch, and the cars great too. But you see the full power on the crashes. You see the glass smashing, every little shard. You see the bonnet crumple and buckle. And you even see the wheels pop off. Ok, so the cars themselves don’t look as good as Forza, but when you consider that Criterion had to deal with the city, and all the other car, it’s pretty damn impressive. One thing Burnout is famed for is its speed, and this is one of the fastest yet. And what impresses me is how Criterion have managed to keep the framerate steady at that incredible speed. The game runs at 60fps, which is makes the game looks better. Ok so there isn’t day/night cycles or any weather, but that’s nothing to discredit it for, it’s just nit picking.

The sound is also great. The engine effects sound so realistic, and so the crashes. When you break, you hear the shriek of the break discs closing down on the speeding wheels. It all sounds great. Now as this game is Published by EA, it was inevitable that you would see EA Trax. And the list of songs for Paradise isn’t the best ever. Of course there is ‘Paradise City’ by Guns N’ Roses, and that’s the highlight of the sound track. You have some other good things like ‘My Curse’ by Killswitch Engage and erm…well that’s all I can think of. You also get some recycled stuff from old Burnout games. And then you get Avril Lavigne’s ‘Girlfriend’, which is great for cruising around or in a high adrenalin races, or not, why the heck would you pick that…anyway enough of that. And lastly we come to Crash FM, Paradise City’s radio station, hosted by DJ Atomica. Who happens to be very annoying. Ok, to be fair, Crash FM is there to help you, and you do learn a few things from it. But Atomica has the most annoying voice ever.

Ok, so the online is so simple it’s brilliant. There are no lobbies, no loading times and no stress. All you do is press the right arrow on the d-pad to open the Easy Drive menu. And your still driving around at this point, there is no stopping unless you do it. And the menu only takes up a small section of the bottom left corner of the screen. So, you press the right arrow again to see which of your friends. You can pick a friend, press the right arrow again to send them a invite for a freeburn (what they call ‘playing online’). You can freeburn with up to seven other people, doing over 300 challenges. Well, sort of, there are a selective amount of challenges of the amount of people playing, if no one is playing, you can enter someone game by pressing the right arrow again. It is really fun competing with people, ding stunts with them, racing them, or just simply taking them down and have a little battle with them. But the whole Easy drive menu thing is amazing, and is one of the innovations of the year already.

Burnout Paradise is excellent. It offers stellar Gameplay and Gameplay. A massive world to play about with, a very inactive online system, loads of stunts to do…the list goes on and on. Criterion have just done their very best to make this experience worthwhile and they have, they make you believe that they have been doing open world for years now. So, get out of your chair, walk down to the shop, and buy this game. Make Paradise City your oyster, it’s worth every penny.

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