Burnout Paradise User Review
I came to Burnout Paradise fresh, so to speak, as I hadn't played Burnout before. I was a Gran Turismo kind of gamer, and other than my love for F1 and British touring Car Championship racing, Gran Turismo had my back with regard to video game racing.
Then I downloaded a demo for this game called Burnout Paradise. WOW! Was I in for a treat. The demo soaked up dozens of hours of my time. It's actually true that this demo alone got more playtime than Gran Turismo 5 Prolog. So of course, when Burnout Paradise launched I was there on day one for a copy. To give you an idea of how good the demo was, my wife who was a relative newbie to video games (she'd only played JRPGs and Madden (Franchise mode)), loved the demo so much that she played it about as much as I did and even downloaded the Japanese Demo to gain access to the Nakamura Ikusa. Not long (days) after getting the first copy of the game, we literally had to go an purchase a second PS3 and a second copy of Burnout Paradise (and PSEye) just for her. Fortunately there was a tax rebate to use. I hope you get an idea of how remarkable Burnout Paradise, and the demo are.
The graphics of Burnout Paradise are simply excellent. The game runs at 60 frames per second, and it's just silky smooth the entire time. The game is often beautiful to behold, and the framerate has a lot to do with that. Certain elements of the game include slow-motion replays, and they are just incredible to watch. Sound is excellent too, engine noise, tire screech, the sounds of crashing and other cars on the street all add to the atmosphere as does the radio that plays constantly. The music supplied with the game is good, but as I mention later you can add your own custom music. DJ Atomica is back, and he guides you through the game and throws in a few jokes along the way. The controls are very responsive, you'll soon be blasting down the streets, weaving in and out of traffic, drifting around corners at top speed and hitting split ramps with precision.
The first time you start you set up your license and are guided through the process of taking a picture (if you have a PSEye attached) for your license. If you have no camera you can choose an avatar for the license. Then you are flung into the world of Burnout Paradise, and Paradise City. You start with a car called a Cavalry. This is a slower, strong and relatively nimble car that will serve you well throughout the game. It's actually possible to complete the game using the Cavalry alone, but there are 80+ other cars at your disposal, so why restrict yourself?
Paradise City is an open world driving environment, there are hundreds of miles of road to drive on, and plenty of off road short cuts. You can drive around the city, going anywhere you please as soon as you start your car for the first time. It’s possible to drive on tops of some buildings, even jumping from roof to roof. There's a lot to do in Paradise City. You can view the city via an overhead map that displays the entire road network of Paradise city and the surrounding county. The streets of Paradise range from the beach, through downtown streets, and then on out into the hills and mountains beyond. Nearly every intersection on the map has an event marker, there are five types of event, Race, Stunt runs, Road Rage, Marked Man and Burning Routes. For every event you beat, you take a step forward on your quest to upgrade your license all the way to Criterion Elite status. But it's a long journey, there are over 140 events to be beaten on the way to achieving that goal.
Race events are self explanatory, you race AI driven opponents to a point in the city, you beat the event when you win the race. You can use whatever shortcuts you want to win the race, and you can take out your opponents along the way. There's nothing better than slamming the 1st place racer into a wall and taking the win at the last moment.
Stunt Run events require you to use the ramps and other objects/obstacles in the city to pull of a series of jumps smashes, barrel rolls and drifting all of which earn points. There is a target for the points, and a time limit to achieve that total. You can earn multipliers for making spectacular jumps off super jumps, or for performing barrel rolls, smashing billboards or managing to throw your car into a flat spin as you take a jump. Stunt events have a set total as your goal, and you build points and multipliers by keeping your run of stunts going. There is a timer on screen so that you know whether your chain of stunts is still intact, or about to be broken. If the chain is broken, your points are calculated based on the current multiplier, and you start the next chain of stunts. If you are in the middle of a chain of stunts when the event timer runs out, the event continues until that chain of stunts is broken. So you can rack up huge scores once you get the hang of it.
Road Rage events are brutal races through the city streets where you have a set time in which to take down a certain number of opposing cars. Of course they'll be trying to take you down too, so be aggressive, but watch out. This particular event is a lot of fun when you are stressed out by rush hour in the real world. This event features lots of crashes, so a quick word about those. In Burnout Paradise, crashes are spectacular, the physics and deformation is actually very realistic. However parents need not worry, there are no drivers in the cars to get injured and no pedestrians to mow down.
Marked Man events have you racing against 4 chase cars. These hunters will try to take you down before you reach your objective. This event isn't timed, but your car will only survive a few take downs or crashes. You have to reach the finish lin before the nu nters finish you off.
As you complete events, the number of events beaten grows and your license gains in level, from D-class, to C-Class, then C, A and Elite. As your number of event wins grows you also unlock new cars. Many of the cars that are unlocked appear on the streets of Paradise city for you to take down. once you find that car, and take it down, it will appear in your garage for you to use.
Burning Route events are special timed runs. For each car you unlock there is a Burning Route. When you beat each car's Burning Route you unlock a special tuned-up version of the ordinary car.
Now, as if that wasn't enough, each car has a boost gauge that functions just like a Nitrous boost in a real car. You charge up your boost, and then when you use it, you get a huge burst of speed. Each car features one of three kinds of boost, Stunt, Speed and Aggression. You build your stunt boost best by pulling off jumps and other stunts, the Speed boost gathers over time, but builds more quickly when you drive against the grain of traffic. Aggression boost is gained by driving aggressively and slamming other cars out of your way.
On top of that there are ramps, split raps, super jumps, bill boards and smash gates throughout the city, so there is a near limitless number of things to do in Paradise city. There are special cars awarded once you smash all the billboards, jump all the Super jumps and smash all the smash gates. Each street has a time to beat, you unlock another special car for beating all the best times on the cities streets. Finally there is Showtime mode. This is a mode where you can crash your car and cause as much damage as you can, hitting buses gains you a multiplier, and you can build quite huge scores if you can keep your chain of mayhem going. As with the road times, there are specific Showtime scores for each road in the city that can be beaten. Once you beat them all you gain a special car. The special cars that are unlocked are 'carbon' versions of other cars in the game. They are typically faster or stronger than the original, and have carbon fiber bodies. Slick.
Enough yet? No? OK, you can go online and play against up to 7 other players in online events including open Freeburn which places you and friends in the Paradise city map free to explore. There are freeburn team challenge events for 2-8 players. You can out do each other's road times or showtime scores, or you can simply slam each other into walls. Of course, no online racer would be complete without racing, and Burnout Paradise does not disappoint. You can race against up to 7 others in online races. There are leader boards for each online race event, road times, showtime events and other statistics, so you can compare your performance against your friends.
Personally I recommend completing as much of the off-line portion of the game as you can before going online. Your knowledge of the city map is invaluable in the online events, and you build that best by beating the events off-line.
Still not enough? OK, well, the first time you go online, your game will be patched up (or if you bought the more recent ultimate pack you will already have most of the additional content). Criterion added Trophy support, custom sound track support, dynamic weather, time of day day/night lighting effects, extra cars, extra online game modes, and motorcycles. There is paid downloadable content that gives you access to even more cars and game modes, including a Cops and Robbers mode that is superficially similar to NFS Hot Pursuit. The biggest DLC piece is the Island. This expands the map, adds new events, new cars and team challenges.
Criterion deserves huge kudos and appreciate for the amount of support that they game Burnout Paradise. The game was originally released before Trophy support or custom sound were available in the PS3's firmware, yet Criterion patched both features into the game. Of course there were bug fixes and other improvements with the newer patches too. The game that you buy and play today is vastly superior to the game as it was originally released.
There is so much to do in Burnout Paradise you can literally spend hundreds of hours playing it and still not have done it all. I can't recommend the game highly enough, the value for money and quality of the game itself places Burnout Paradise in the top tier of PS3 games, of any genre.
Try the demo out. If you like that demo even a little bit, buying the full game is worth your money, you will love it. Don't rent it, buy it.
This user review does not reflect the views of the PSX Extreme Staff.