A Paradise City for Speed Junkies
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 open world game, you would be hard pressed to top this title. Oh alright, I guess you can still move to your Paradise City.
I usually try to start out a review by telling you all the bad parts of a game first, you know start at the bottom and work your way up kind of mentality. However with Burnout: Paradise, I really am trying to think of something negative to say about it. After thinking long and hard, the best I can come up with is that it can be frustrating. I know, pathetic. Well it’s something. Yes the difficulty can get a bit high and if you don’t have those last second twitch reflexes, you will crash and burn every time. There will be a lot of restarting of events until you memorize the best route to take to get to the goal and even then a fluke shot form an opponent and it’s all over. But really, if a racing game wasn’t hard, it would hardly be a good racing game now would it?
Now that we got that out of the way, let’s discuss what really makes this title stand out. Burnout: Paradise takes place in Paradise City. A lot of racing games have had a central hub where you initiate the action, but none have ever come close to this. As soon as you boot up the game it just drops you right into the city. You are free to drive around and do whatever you want. But how do you race? Well here is the genius. As you’re driving around exploring the city, you need only approach an intersection and bam, a racing event. That’s right, just about every intersection in the game is an event. So all you have to do is press L2 and R2 together at an intersection and the event starts right then and there. It truly is a remarkable gameplay mechanic.
These intersections are not just for racing mind you. There is a whole host of things to do in the city aside from racing. There are Stunt runs, where your objective is to be as reckless as possible to rack up as many points as you can. Marked Man, one of my personal favorites where you are trying to get from point A to point B all the while you have renegade cars trying to smash you up. Road Rage, where the tables have turned and you are trying to smash up as many cars as you can. On top of that you will have a Burning Route for each car where if you successfully beat the time you unlock a better version of that car. In addition to all of that there is a whole bunch of stuff to explore in the city including 50 cinematic jumps, 120 billboards to crash through, 400+ short cuts to find and even more! Yes they certainly give you your money’s worth here!
Now that I have (or should have) blown you away, let’s get down to the basics. The team at Criterion may not be Polyphony Digital, but they do have one thing in common. They both understand that in order for a racing game to even have a chance at being good, it has to have a steady and deep draw distance and it has to look good while it’s doing it. So thankfully, you can blaze your way through Paradise and be able to see that wall you are about to go flying into with just enough time to swerve out of the way and avoid it. All the while you might find yourself getting distracted by how beautiful the city is and not notice the second wall. Good visuals check check!
At this point I don’t know what else to say. There’s something like 75 different cars, over 100 different events, plus they have added motorcycles in a free DLC update. This title really stands out as the best racing game I have played in a long time. I may say that having not played Gran Turismo 5, but I also say that having played most of the Ridge Racers, Motorstorm, Motorstorm Pacific Rift, Blur, Crusin’, Gran Turismo 2-4, yeah well you get the idea. So if I tell you that this game is for real, I might know what I’m talking about!