sgthalka's Burnout Paradise (PlayStation 3) review

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Navigation can be a pain, but Burnout is still an addictive rush.

Full disclosure -- I wasn’t a fan of Burnout Paradise when it originally was released. I tried to give it my best effort, but the open-city format proved to be too jarring at the time and so it sat on my shelf for three long years. I’m sure I wasn’t alone in this. Criterion’s decision to eliminate discrete racing tracks in favor of a GTA-style “open world” format quickly alienated a lot of racing fans who just couldn’t wrap their heads around the freedom the developers wanted to bring into their flagship racer.

Fast forward the clock to 2011, and I felt like I needed to give this game a second chance, so in I dove. It’s remarkable how well the game’s core driving mechanics and presentation still hold up. Cruising through Paradise City still looks gorgeous. It’s especially impressive how many different types of geography -- dense downtown, beachy seasides, rural backroads, mountainous overpasses -- Criterion managed to squeeze into the land mass without it sprawling way too large or losing the feeling of a unified city. It’s a large environment, to be sure, but all of it is purposely designed. You’re never in a dull spot of the map as each area has something interesting to drive through, around or past.

That said, after you’ve been playing the game for a week or two, repetition does set in. The city isn’t so monstrously large that you won’t become familiar with all its areas within a week of steady play. Add to that the limited variety of race options over the same terrain, and it’s easier to feel repetition fatigue from Paradise, compared to other racing games. 

It also calls into the question the whole notion of an open-city. While it’s interesting, in theory, to navigate through races yourself using shortcuts, backroads and alleys, in practice I can’t honestly say it’s “more fun” than a traditional racer on defined tracks. In fact, as you progress to faster and faster cars with your A license, you’ll be racing through the city so quickly, it becomes next to impossible to take your eyes off the road for half a second to glance at the minimap in the corner of the screen to see whether you’re going anywhere near where you’re supposed to. At this point, the normal racing events become much more challenging with tougher opponents, on top of the navigation issues. While I’m sure some people relish the challenge, the game quickly became tiresome for me at this point. Non-race events are fun as ever, and free driving at breakneck speeds throughout the city is still fun -- but trying to handle pure races becomes a real chore because of the open format.

The overall experience in Burnout Paradise is still fantastic, all map griping aside. While I can’t say I hope Criterion does another open-city format racer in the future, I’ll still always look forward to whatever racing experiment they come up with next.

Other reviews for Burnout Paradise (PlayStation 3)

    A Paradise City for Speed Junkies 0

    If you were just thinking of moving to Paradise City, you might want to rethink that. What with the constant vehicular carnage that spews across the streets and intersections of the city. Maybe we weren’t talking about the same Paradise City? I was of course referring to the setting of Criterion’s racing masterpiece, Burnout: Paradise. There really is not a whole lot of negative things to say about this iteration in the long running Burnout series. With a fantastic marriage of racing game and op...

    0 out of 0 found this review helpful.

    beeping down the street has a new meaning. 0

    This game came out for the PS3 and Xbox360 in Jan. of 08, and has just been released on PC this past Feb. It’s been constantly updated with new modes and vehicles, some free, some for a price, the support from the developer has been great. The Good – Intense arcade style racing gameplay. Graphics have a fast, silky smooth framerate. Car wrecks seem to be randomly generated and are some of the most spectacular of any game.The sense of speed is exhilarating, the satisfaction from wrecking other ...

    0 out of 0 found this review helpful.

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