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)
Crash in to me>/h2>
And yet, while the events and side objectives will keep you busy, it's the crashes that clearly steal the show. The Burnout series has always been home to spectacularly visceral fender benders and while they were impressive in the past, it's nothing compared to how severely you can wreck a car in Paradise.
While playing the game, we were constantly amazed by the care and attention to detail that Criterion put into the crashes. Vehicles deform and break apart realistically and best of all, the pile-ups do not affect the frame rates. The collisions are almost always jaw dropping and they easily trump what other racing games have done in the past. While there is no dedicated Crash mode, you can trigger a crash sequence by pressing the shoulder buttons.
Touch up paint
Of course, sometimes, you want to try and keep your car in tip-top shape and that's where the new repair mechanic comes into play. There are drive-through auto repair shops positioned around the city that can save you if your car is close to being totalled; this is especially handy during Road Rage events where a quick trip through a repair shop will restore your beat-up ride to a pristine condition. There are also gas stations that will instantaneously fill up your boost meter and once you find one, it is permanently added to your world map. Smart Burnout players will commit the locations to memory and use them for an extra edge, especially in the game's amazing online mode.
Speaking of which, Paradise features a fully integrated multiplayer component that never takes you away from the action. It's seamless and painless: By tapping the directional pad, you can jump online at any time during play. With the press of a button, the city switches over to online mode and you can set up races and other events against your buddies. While we weren't able to take full advantage of it, it definitely has a ton of potential.
Bumper to bumper
Now, before we get ahead of ourselves, we will admit that Paradise isn't perfect. For all its strengths, there are a few small quibbles that mar an otherwise showroom shine. First, Paradise isn't as easy to navigate as past Burnout titles; there is definitely a learning curve in place. The absence of menus is also two-way street. It makes everything cleaner but it can be intimidating for gamers who need a little handholding to get accustomed to everything the game has to offer. The saving grace is that there is an excellent tutorial that introduces new concepts as they occur. We also noticed an over-abundance of in-game ads on the billboards and shops, which was distracting. One more thing: we found ourselves constantly pining for an instantaneous "restart race" option as we usually wanted to jump right back into the same event after we'd failed it.
And yet, despite these minor imperfections, there is no doubting that Burnout Paradise offers once of the most intense racing experiences around. 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.
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