systemlink's Big Surf Island (Xbox 360) review

A little over-priced, but still great fun.


The brand new island just off the Eastern coast of the old map is finally here. An early surprise is that it's only £9.99 on the PSN ($12.99 or 1000 MS Points), I was expecting at least £15. I mean look at how much they've been charging for some of the DLC cars!

Thankfully the new island is fully integrated into the existing Burnout map with no loading screens, which is an impressive feat given the already considerable size. The island itself is about the size of the Downtown area, but has a mix of business district skysrapers, beaches, waterfronts, building sites (with some insane jumps and hoop sections), winding drift roads, and a mountainous dirt track.

Your first few minutes will be spent pelting around at full speed, smashing gates and billboards again like the first time you slotted in the original disc back in January 2008. All your old habits will come flying back, particularly the one where you pass a smash gate and pull the speed-killing U-turn to go back only to discover you’ve already got it.

If you’ve not stopped playing Burnout for ages you’ll right be at home here, but it might just be me but the Road Rage seems to be tougher than usual. You'll need to use the old Carson Inferno van to stand a proper chance. Not only does the AI not want to be taken down at all, but the time limits are tighter than before and no extra time is added for racking up the points.

There are nine new cars on offer with one from the start, the Carson Dust Storm buggy, which is built more for stunts than racing and drifting. Barrel roll fans will be in their element with loads of jumps allowing for multiple roll attempts. Think of the island as that jump in the old quarry cranked up to 11.

So what is there to do on the new island? Pretty much the same as on the mainland really. In a few explosive hours you shouldn’t have any problems tearing through the 15 events, 75 Smashes, 45 Billboards, 12 Showtime Road Rules, 12 Timed Road Rules and 15 cloud bothering Mega-Jumps (no longer merely the ‘Super Jumps’ of old).

The 15 events consist of the usual suspects of Race, Marked Man, Stunt Run, Burning Lap and Road Rage. There are no simple A-B races, instead they all use multiple checkpoints.

Once you’ve done all that you’ll (if you didn’t straight away) get online for the Freeburn Challenges. Obviously they’re typically brilliant fun as we all expected, involving barrel rolls, sky high meet-ups and even drifting to the top of a huge spiral car-park in unison. But here’s the bind, there are only ten of these challenges.

The bikes do work on the island but there aren’t any events dedicated to them online or offline except for day / night Timed Road Rules for each of the 12 streets, which is a big letdown as they’re probably the best part of all the DLC released so far. But don’t bet against there being a future update with some events added, and maybe even a couple of dirt-bikes. Come on Criterion, remember when you used to spoil us all? Before the daft prices for extra cars and a police flavoured Marked Man mode, and pass-the-pad multiplayer (hint: we wanted split-screen racing and Road Rage modes).

You’ll unlock some of the nine extra cars by finishing the events and collecting Billboards and so on. Some of these include some new Toy cars, which if you’ve not bought any beforehand should help you decide whether to bother or not. After getting 100% on the island’s licence, all the events, clocking up 300 miles and even nailing full marks on Power Parking I was still missing one. After a bit of internet rummaging it turns out that you only need to finish all 500 online challenges. It better fly and have gatling guns for headlights.

While there’s no doubt this is great fun, it’s all over disappointingly quickly and that initially reasonable price tag starts to look a little overpriced. However, apart from a few overpriced extras, Criterion has offered some great updates for free, so fingers crossed, they’ll at least have more Freeburn events in the pipeline. Hopefully for a reasonable price more in the region of £0.00.

So what next for developers Criterion? Well, they’ve been signed up to develop the next game in the Need For Speed series. This could rejuvenate the now lacklustre name, but will that be at the cost of no more work being done on Burnout titles for a while? Wouldn’t we all just prefer a new Burnout game instead of Need for Speed anyway? Let it go EA.

By Brendan Griffiths - Systemlink Blog
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Other reviews for Big Surf Island (Xbox 360)

    A great island 'vacation' 0

    Did you like Burnout Paradise for the crazy jumps, billboard smashing and rad as hell crashes?  If the answer to any of those is yes, than Big Surf Island is made for you.  Billed as a 'vacation', it's essentially more gates to smash, more billboards to throw your self at, roads to rule, cars to unlock, and most spectacularly, the most ludicrous jumps in the game.  If jumping onto a jump to jump part of bridge sounds exciting to you, then you'll love it.  For $12.99, its essentially 5 or more ho...

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