* Awarded Extreme Gamer's Best Racing Game of 2008
Criterion and EA Games have just released the latest installment of the Burnout series, Burnout Paradise. Along with many new cars and a new open environment, this new Burnout game is sure to be a metal bending window-smashing hit.
Burnout Paradise starts out with quite a bang. Not because there’s a huge car crash, or because there’s an incredible display of graphics. No, it’s all because the song Paradise City by Guns N' Roses plays to the background view of the city from a bridge. Like most Burnout games, Paradise starts you off with one car, and even though it’s the starter car I still used it for most of the beginning of the game. After selecting your car you have two choices, you can either cruise around the streets of Paradise, or you can pull up to a traffic light and start an event.
If you choose to “Freeburn”, in other words cruise around the streets of Paradise there’s no need to worry about running out of places to drive. With over 250 miles of open track (which, for us Canadians is 402 km) there’s plenty to see and much, much more to destroy. Paradise is filled with generic looking cars which crumble with ease when hit by your vehicle. Aside from having a big demolition derby there are many side objectives that lead to accomplishments. For an idea of these objectives, they consist of running through gates, smashing billboard signs, making huge jumps and power parking, which involves the driver using the e-brake to parallel park your car. With the amount of billboards and gates in Paradise you’ll be busy for quite some time. Also in Paradise there are four kinds of drive-thru. Gas stations, auto repair shops, paint shops and junkyards. All are pretty self-explanatory and only involve the driver going under and roof on the side of the road to complete a fill up of boost or a car repair.
Another mode involved in Freeburn is Road Rules. This is a neat feature, which will be sure to keep you busy for days on end. Each street throughout Paradise has two Road Rules that must be completed. The first is a Time Road Rule; this involves you driving from the beginning of a street to the end trying to beat a “lap time” set by another AI driver. The next Road Rule is Showtime and this is where Burnout games shine. When on any street in Paradise with the tap of both shoulder buttons you enter Showtime. Your car is launched sideways and begins rolling, the goal is to try and hit as many cars and road signs as possible. With each car hit you receive boost, which is used to ground break. Ground breaking let’s your car jump and roll even more to let the destruction continue. If you can beat both the Time and Showtime road rules you own that street.
So now it’s time to get to the fun part, the race events. At the beginning of the game you start with a learner’s permit, kind of like your G1 or beginners permit, and everyone remembers how embarrassing that was. The only way to upgrade is to complete races put at intersections throughout Paradise. There are five certain types of events. The first is races, just a normal race between you and 6 other opponents from point A to point B. Then you have Road Rage, all you have to do is smash up as many opponent cars as you can in the time limit. Marked Man is essentially the same concept but other drivers are trying to take you down before you cross the line. Stunt Run is where you have to complete stunts in order to score a certain score. And lastly there’s Burning Route, which is where you have to use a specific car and drive from point A to point B in a time frame.
As mentioned before you only start the game with one car, but as you progress through the game you will unlock cars after certain challenges or achievements are completed. With over 70 cars to unlock you’re sure to be racing for a while. There’s also Shut-Downs. Shut-Downs is when a car is “unlocked” after a race but not usable until you find it cruising around paradise. Once you see it cruising around you take it down and then that car becomes usable. This is a unique and fun feature makes it difficult to win cars compared to most racing games.
Burnout Paradise supports Xbox Live online gaming which consists of the obvious races that can be joined like most racing games. You can also enjoy the “Freeburn” mode that allows you to drive around town with seven other drivers engaging in races or just running into each other. A neat feature added on to Burnout Paradise is the ability to take a mug shot. When you defeat a racer online and you have the Xbox Vision Cam hooked up, a picture is taken of the opposing racer and is added to your collection.
As for the audio, at times it seems like they used the same two crash sounds over and over. If you pay enough attention the cars they sound like they have an infinite amount of gears, but that’s just me being too critical. The graphics are visually pleasing, from the amazing multiple car crashes to the boost flames coming out of the exhaust. You won’t be disappointed with the visuals or sound in Burnout Paradise, Criterion has come to impress.
If you’re in the market for a fun racing game that’ll keep you busy for quite some time, this is your game. Putting up the $60 to buy it instead of rent it is definitely worth it. There’s nothing negative I can really say about this game. They did take out the crash mode but this is more or less replaced with Showtime, which is a good excuse to cause some mayhem. Criterion and EA games have created a wonderful game which is a huge success; let’s hope they can match this with the next installment of Burnout.
Reviewed by Chris G. | 02.20.08