Review

Burnout Paradise Review (Xbox360)

The hotly anticipated update from Criterion delivers the goods, although not packaged as you might expect. In place of directed set pieces is a roaming open world of a game that asks a lot more of the player than simply putting the pedal to the metal. Those that stick with it are rewarded handsomely as this turns out to be one of the most substantial (not to mention enjoyable) Burnout games to date.

Before Paradise arrived on the scene Burnout was q pretty straight forward series of high-speed racing games. Burnout and Burnout 2: Point of Impact drew critical acclaim and quickly established a large fan base. Burnout 3: Takedown built on this success and turned the series into a household name. Although just as acclaimed, Burnout 4: Revenge, was unable to garner such commercial success and led to some shoring up of the franchise with the regressive releases of Burnout Dominator and Legends.


Monster cars! Drift in motion

A lot then rides on the shoulders of Paradise, something that is obviously understood by Criterion who has spared no amount of effort with a complete re-envisioning of their core ideas. They have essentially taken the raw seed of risk-reward and planted it in the heart of a living beating city. This changes the play mechanics substantially, although this retains its Burnout credentials and quickly wins over both fans and newcomers alike.

Within this open city environment they provide the following series of events:
∑† Race: Races against at least 1 other car from your current position to a given a location on the map. First one there wins.
∑† Road Rage: Achieve your target number of takedowns before the time runs out to win.
∑† Marked Man: Much akin to the old pursuit mode. You must reach your designated destination before your car is wrecked by the pummelling attacks of a slew of blacked out† SUVs.
∑† Stunt Run: Achieve your target score, combining jumps and spins, to win the mode.
†∑† Burning Route: Reach your destination in a specific car within the time limit to win.

As you can see from this list there is a real mix of old and new in Burnout Paradise. Some old favourites have returned untouched, while other less well known modes have been reworked to breath new life into them. But all these different challenges take on new shape and significance when placed in an open city rather than the old closed tracks. While you are racing around you always need half an eye on the map and to keep a good look out for short-cuts. When you work out the ideal route and leave the other cars to rush off in the wrong direction, only to pip them all to the finish line, it is nothing short of exhilarating.


Car vs Truck - Truck wins! Classic rides and downtown living!

Of course this fun all comes at a bit of a cost. Firstly the racing experience has to be found by the player, there is no longer a simple list of races to work through. You must explore Paradise City to locate each of the events. Secondly there is no split-screen multiplayer mode, although this is compensated for by the awesome online features (we will get into in a moment), the lack of local multiplayer means this is no longer the ideal party game. Finally, there is no simple war to restart a race other than to drive back to the start manually. But hey this is real life now, so what did you expect.

The online mode is one of the strongest features of Paradise. Not only is there a varied and challenging array of online events and tasks, but you can seamlessly move between on and off line play at the touch of your D-Pad. This is some of the best online integration we have seen on the 360, and that is saying something.

Graphically, things have taken a real boost since the release of Revenge on the 360. Not only has the game mechanic been rebuilt from the ground up, so has the graphics engine. The new crumple system turns what used to be metal twisting collisions into bone crunching death traps depicted in gory detail for your delight and delectation. It is so good see how the car crumples around the objects it hits; you are often tempt to crash just to watch the animations again.

The rest of the world gets a similar amount of attention to detail and really does invite you to explore every inch. The cars themselves, particular when fresh out of the repair shop, look absolutely stunning. Itís not long before they re-acquire their beat up look, but for a few moments you look on in awe as the sun and surroundings reflect off your bonnet. Sound-work that accompanies these moments is as crisp and clean as you could ask for. Even the sometimes grating prattle of the in house DJ seems to have taken a turn for the better. Of maybe we have finally got used to young DJ Atomica.


Time for a Pick-Me-Up! Bright city lights - like a moth to the flame.

Overall, this is a success because the parts come together to make a cohesive whole experience that is just so much fun to play. Not only can you spend hours tooling around Paradise City but there are over 200 events in which to compete. This should easily keep veterans and newcomers entertained well into the summer months. Combine this with the great online features and you have got a pack that is great value.

Favorite Game Moment
Finally getting my Burnout takedown rampage on a high corner up in the mountains. The next minute breaking through a shortcut and charging back down to the city streets. Not only breath taking but also so much raw adrenaline soaked fun. Extreme driving to the max.

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