EA Games Burnout Paradise
- The open-ended world offers up a lot of possibilities; the crashes, a series hallmark, are just as impressive as they were in past instalments; the sensation of speed is ridiculous, you better have nerves of steel if you want to survive this ride; the transition to online play is transparent and seamless, which is a really nice touch
- Just like in real life, navigating through the huge city can be intimidating; the learning curve is far steeper this time around that you will spend some time getting acclimated to the game; an instantaneous "restart" option would have definitely come in handy
It won't wow you with a high degree of realism like Gran Turismo will but for pure racing action, it is one of the best titles ever produced. Give it a chance and you might find yourself having the most fun you've ever had in a virtual car.
Price$ 99.95 (AUD)
Sometimes, game reviewers get so caught up in reviewing games as products that they forget why people play games in the first place -- for fun. Even where our final review score is based on "fun factor", we must take into consideration specific consumer needs such as graphics, sound, online features and most importantly, value. Over the years we've been reviewing games and only encountered a handful of titles that delivers on all fronts while simultaneously providing an intrinsically fun experience.
But it's obvious that Burnout Paradise deserves to be recognised as a game that truly has it all. It more than lives up to the high expectations that surround the Burnout franchise and it stands as one of the most entertaining titles that we have ever played.
Where the grass is green
Burnout developer Criterion Games has been mashing up cars at breakneck speeds for years but instead of simply adding a "new-gen" sheen to the tried and true formula, they forged a bold path and started completely from scratch. Gone are the confined races, cluttered menus and online lobbies, replaced by a huge city, on-the-fly racing, opened-ended objectives and an online mode that is seamlessly integrated into the overall experience.
Of course, Criterion wisely held onto the one element that has always been Burnout's trademark: insanely fast racing and phenomenal car crashes. But Paradise's true strength is that this familiar concept has now been intertwined with a near flawless game experience. From the moment you hit the streets of Paradise City, there is almost no loading screens or menus to contend with. The game employs a true sandbox principle that truly allows you to play the game as you wish. The entire city, from the downtown metropolis to the distant countryside, is at your disposal and each area is loaded with enough events to keep you busy for a looooong time.
The main event(s)
The main modes that you'll encounter consist of Races, Road Rage events (get X number of takedowns), Stunt Runs (achieve a specific stunt score), Marked Man challenges (reach a goal with rivals out for your hide) and Burning Routes; that's enough content to fill out a standard racing title but Paradise is far from standard. Now, each of the approximately 75 vehicles available in the game has its own special Burning Route. There's a seemingly endless number of ramps and stunt runs littered throughout the city and it's especially gratifying to take your pristine ride for an extended flight.
You can also engage in on-the-fly takedown challenges which unlock new cars. Oh, you can also trigger Crash mode any time you cause a pile-up and you can also run around the city smashing billboards and discovering shortcut gates. And of course, sometimes, it's just fun to rocket around the city with no particular destination in mind. It's very possible to spend hours causing mayhem without ever triggering a single race.
This is especially true now thanks to the new open-ended world. The Burnout series has always featured designated tracks with set paths. Sure, using shortcuts were encouraged but there was only one general direction in which you could go. Paradise is different: like Midnight Club, the racing is completely open-ended. You're given a starting point and it's up to you to decide how to get to the finish line. The detailed map, an on-screen compass and a nifty little turn signal indicator come in handy for guiding the way, but they're meant more as navigational aids.
There is a bit of a learning curve as you get acclimated to the system but after about 10 races, you will get the hang of it; needless to say, Paradise will definitely keep you on your toes. Of course, you can just follow the pack if you get lost but once you learn your way around, you'll be able to forge your own path with reckless abandon.
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