Take me down to the Paradise City
There exist racing games that like to give you fancy cars to purchase, like BMW's and Ferrari's. There exist racing games that have car shops, where you can pay for car tune-ups and part changes. There exist racing games that involve you racing around a simple oval race track. Burnout Paradise is a racing game that does none of those things. Burnout Paradise is a racing game about racing- plain and simple. That means high speed thrills, crazy courses, and lots and lots of crashing.
That's what the series is known for, and Paradise carries the standards high. The tight controls that have made the series such a stand out franchise are back, along with the high speed thrills and over-the-top crashes. This all makes the simple act of racing, and crashing, just as fun as it has always been. Takedowns are still seriously satisfying when you pull them off, making the normal races and Road Rages continue on as the game's premiere events. The new events are also interesting, with Marked Man, Stunt Run, and Showtime all being nice distractions from the otherwise repetitive staples. At the same time, they aren't really as fun as the normal races or the Road Rages, so you probably won't ever want to do a lot of them in a row. But they do add some needed variety.
At a glance, it all seems to be standard Burnout stuff. But the real change comes in the open world setup. You can ride around Paradise City as you see fit, and when you're ready to start an event, you kind of roll up to a stoplight, rev your engine, and you're off. Initially it kind of feels like a glorified alternative to the menus of old- instead of scrolling through a list of events, you have to ride around a city to find the event you want. But once you start to get your teeth into the game, you start to notice how much detail is crammed into the city. You start seeing all manners of shortcuts, or realize that one route is better than another, or you stumble across some place that would be awesome for racking up points in a Stunt Run. Then the point of the open ended nature becomes clear. As you learn the ins and outs of the city, you start to become more clever in the paths you take, which becomes a ton of fun. This does lead to a somewhat high learning curve though. Not that the perfect controls take getting used to, but truly learning the city is somewhat of a chore that is almost necessary on the game's tougher races. Otherwise you'll be stuck constantly pausing to look at the map during a race, which kills the flow of the game, as well as takes your eyes off the road- driving hazard number one.
Despite these few gripes, the open ended world does a lot more good than bad, and ultimately takes the Burnout series one step further. Burnout Paradise took huge risks with the existing formula, and ones that I was initially skeptical about. The fact that they paid off beautifully makes Burnout Paradise not only an incredibly fun racing game, but one that is a must play for fans of the genre.
For additional information on my review style and scoring system, click here.