The Burnout series has been around quite a while, with a legacy spanning a number of console generations. This points toward a solid pedigree and a returning fan base. For many Burnout Paradise was the best of the series, an open world racing game chock full of stunts, jumps, races and sexy cars, not forgetting the spectacular crashes crumpling som of the shiniest crashes to grace the PS3 or Xbox360.
It was something of a pleasant surprise that the HD rework was announced a mere few weeks before release, building hype and expectation amongst the people that wanted to be taken back to Paradise City.
They will not be disappointed.
The game hasn’t aged a day in the last decade, the eye burning speed is still there and the city is full of options to explore which is great. This where the HD title comes into question, you see, I remember the game looking spectacular at the time and without having played it in probably eight or nine years it looks pretty much as I remember it. This is probably a nod to the developers, but unless I get to put them side by side, I guess it feels pretty much like the same game. Which isn’t a bad thing, because the game is good and stands head and shoulders above other open world racers that try to reinvent the genre today. Doesn’t say much for my Rose-tinted memory though.
Controls are slick and responsive, while the different vehicles all handle differently enough and having all the DLC included there is a buffet of rides to try. There is plenty to do both online and offline and the asynchronous alerts as time records are set and broken add to the screen noise, but make you feel like you are part of a bigger experience.
The other very worthy thing to mention again is the inclusion of all the old DLC, Big Surf Island and a swathe of DLC vehicles are available from the start. As somebody that stopped playing before the DLC bug hit, I’m happy to explore more and over the moon to cruise around in some of the more wacky options, although liking the Knight Rider variant hasn’t helped me appreciate the speed vs corners argument.
My only gripe is the same issue that I documented back in the day – I get lost in open world racers.
Whereas Burnout2 had tight and classic arcade style tracks, having free roam to take your own course loosely translates as ‘go the wrong way’. This ultimately loses me more races than my driving, its fair to say the street names that appear overhead flash to show you the best route, but in the Burnout world were a hundredth of a second is the difference between wrecking your car on a low wall or not – then taking time to look at the directions above can be somewhat too distracting.
One of the main draw cards for Burnout games has been the Crash junctions, introduced to me back in Burnout2 and to be honest never bettered since then. Paradise offers up a bigger, crazier Crash Junction – again the open world is too blame, but its too easy to keep your wreck bouncing around racking up massive scores. In the old days it was down to finite timing, clipping a car in just the right way to cause a spiralling pile up. That said, even with rose tinted memories, Paradise diversions such as the Crash Junctions and even just hooning around can swallow up hours without (you), the player making any real in-game progression.
For the record, hooning around isn’t a bad thing in Paradise City. It’s a natural occurrence when screeching around city streets in a preposterous vehicle, smashing gates to short cuts and failing huge super jumps.
In summary, Burnout Paradise is a classic game that is perfect for killing time on a rainy day. It may not be on the list to obsessively complete, but returning to Paradise City certainly gives modern arcade racers a run for their money.
No silly narrative, no loot boxes, no customisation. Just balls to wall, pedal to the metal, smash me up in hail of sparks fun.