When I was little, my cousin and I would play the Rush games a ton on the N64. We didn’t play it for the racing as much as we played it for the stunt course. When we got sick of that, we would play the races with the sole purpose of ramming all of the other drivers off the road. I can vividly remember pushing a car into a palm tree and thinking, “Why the hell isn’t there a racing game that encourages all of this?” A few years later, I rented Burnout 2 for my Gamecube and my deep love for the Burnout series began.As soon as I heard the words “open world” mentioned with Burnout Paradise, I exploped with joy. This sounded like the arcade racing game that I had waited my whole life for. I ate up every screenshot and gameplay video I could find. then, the dreaded demo came out. This demo tried as hard as it could to kill all of my excitement for this game. It only had three races. That makes the game world feel very, very empty, despite how large and full it looks. I just had to keep telling myself, “A race at every corner, a race at every corner…” Finally, January 22 came and it was the day of reckoning for Burnout Paradise. While not without its flaws, it is the racing experience I have wanted for a long time.
While a lot of people seem to have a problem with the game dropping you into the world, I love it. There are few games that, at the start, give you a giant world and say, “Go nuts. Have fun.” No sections of the city are arbitrarily closed off. The world you start in is the same as the world you end in. This could be seen as a negative, but I think as you learn all of the streets and short cuts, the world feels like it changes. When you finally start recognizing things it feels different and you feel like you’ve accomplished something.
The races themselves are just what you would expect from Burnout: fast and brutal. I’ve seen the complaint that there is no retry button for when you lose a race. This is only really a problem for me with burning routes. They are specific to each car so they only start in one place. If I lose a road rage, I just find a new road rage near by and I’m rocking out again.
Races aren’t even close to all there is to do in Paradise City. There are gates and billboards that need smashing, jumps that need jumping, secret areas to find and new cars to unlock. As I drove around, a hierarchy of needs developed. At the bottom were the races. They are stationary and clearly marked on the map, they can wait. Next up were the gates, boards and jumps. While still always in the same place, they aren’t on the map. Considering that all together there are over 600 of them, I would hit them when I saw them. Finally, at the top, was chasing down rogue cars. Probably my favorite part of the game was chasing, smashing and stealing a new car.
One of the bigger changes is the revamp of crash mode. I was never a huge fan of crash mode in the old games. It was a cool idea, but I generally got bored with it pretty quickly. In BP, this is replaced with a completely new mode where you run into things as long as you can and keep yourself going with your burnout meter. It’s fun, but also gets pretty old pretty fast. I’ll do it to snag the achievements involved with it, but beyond that, I doubt I’ll play it that much.
The multiplayer, while amazingly set up, is where most of my problems lie. Road rafe and marked man (arguably the best modes) don’t exist in multiplayer. They could show up later as DLC, but that’s fairly bullshit. The co-op challenge side of the multiplayer is a great idea. There are 350 challenges, which is incredibly inflated number since it’s mostly the same thing over and over, but with a different number of players. the worst part, though, is when you’re doing an 8 person challenge and almost everyone has completed the objective. Then some asshole leaves. The game doesn’t give you credit for the same challenge with 7 people. It just drops the challenge. I can’t textually express how annoying this is.
The camera functionality in BP has been a much applauded feature. It’s definitely a cool little gimmick that makes me want to pick up my own. Most people I played with didn’t have it so I only have a few mugshots. I did observe an interesting phenomenon though. A girl with a headset and a camera was playing. The game very quickly turned into “crash into the girl and hope to catch a titty” for most of the other players. This isn’t really all that surprising considering the Xbox Live population.
I’m having a blast working my way through all of Paradise City and I hope more people on my friend list start picking it up. I can see myself popping it in and doing a few races here and there for a long time. If they come out with more multiplayer modes via DLC, it would make it even longer lasting. It’s not for everyone, but it feels like it was made with me in mind. Pick it up, message me and I’ll take you down. Happy crashing everyone.