Burnout Paradise PlayStation 3 & Xbox 360
Published by: EA
Developed by: Criterion Games
Release Date: Out Now
Whilst Burnout Paradise isn’t the first ‘next-generation’ entry in the Burnout series, it’s the most eagerly awaited. The reason for this is partly due to this being the first Burnout game to appear on the PlayStation 3 (Burnout Revenge was released prior to the arrival of the PlayStation 3) but mostly it’s because it’s been common knowledge for a long time that Burnout Paradise was going to be quite a different experience from previous Burnout titles. Burnout Paradise is the first title in the series to have an open-world environment allowing you to drive around and fully explore the game world. At its heart is a very familiar Burnout experience but there are some rather significant differences here too.
By far the biggest difference in Burnout Paradise is the open-world environment. You won’t simply choose events from a menu anymore. You’ll drive around Paradise City and activate events by pressing down on both triggers when notified to do so. The medal system has been thrown out and now the idea is to upgrade your licence from a Learner’s Permit to a Burnout Elite Driver’s License by winning events. To begin with you don’t have a choice of cars (there’s only one available but you’ll unlock 75 throughout the course of the game). You're given a rather beat-up car that you’ll fix by simply driving through a garage. You are free to drive around the city (all 250 virtual miles of it) and do as you please. There are a multitude of events to take part in. You’ll notice strategically placed ramps enabling you to perform some amazing jumps. There are 120 Burnout Billboards just waiting to be smashed. There are many shortcuts to be discovered. In fact it’s possible to spend hours just driving around the city and familiarising yourself with it. It’s important to emphasise that the experience is a flowing, continuous one at all times. You can even jump into an online game, virtually seamlessly, with just a touch of the directional pad.
There are many events to tackle in Burnout Paradise and you’ll be kept busy for months. The online portion of the game alone offers around 300 challenges (which can be tackled alone or with up to seven other players) that will take a long time to complete. Events you’ll find in the single-player game include: Marked Man (you have to get to a destination whilst avoiding your enemies), Stunt Run (a mode where you have to amass as big a stunt combo as you can within the given time), Road Rage (you're required to get a certain amount of takedowns within the time limit) and Races. There are even Burning Route challenges that if completed, will enable you to win additional cars.
As impressive as Burnout Paradise is, there are some aspects of the game that are rather off-putting. Races can be somewhat irritating for the simple reason that getting to the finish line is real trial and error stuff. There aren’t any checkpoints and you are essentially on your own in finding the quickest route to the finish line. There will be times when you will make a complete mess of it by taking a wrong turn (it’s easier to do than you might think) and you’ll want to redo the race. The problem is that you can’t simply redo the race. After all, this is an open-world environment with no fixed events as such. All you can do is find another event and attempt to do better. Of course this is a problem that can be negated by becoming accustomed to the layout of the map. There is no Crash Mode in Burnout Paradise and this is going to disappoint a fair few fans of the series. The replacement, dubbed Showtime, allows you to chain together bizarre looking crashes any time you wish but it’s just not the same.
Burnout Paradise looks great on both the Xbox 360 and the PlayStation 3. In fact, both versions are pretty much identical. The car models look great and as you’d expect from a Burnout title, the damage modelling is very impressive. Paradise City looks rather good. It’s also rather large and impressively you won’t experience any loading times whilst driving around. Probably the most impressive aspect of the game, at least from a technical standpoint, is its frame rate which flies along at an ultra smooth 60fps on both systems. The sensation of speed is breathtaking (even when you’re not using the boost). The one disappointment I had with the game, in terms of its presentation, was the lack of camera angles. The game provides two and neither feel satisfactory. I was disappointed to find there is no in-car view. The chase view is too low to the ground for my liking too. More camera views definitely need to be included next time around.
Whilst Burnout Paradise won’t give deaf gamers any major problems, it’s not as good as it could be for deaf gamers. When you first load the game you’re given an introduction that is verbal only. However, the information in this introduction isn’t crucially important. A few game basics are mentioned and it will comment on how you could have used a real picture for your driving licence if you had a camera connected to your PlayStation 3 or Xbox 360 (assuming you don’t have one plugged in at the time of course). You’ll notice text tutorial messages scrolling across the bottom of the screen which is useful. Rather disappointingly however, the introductions to the event types are verbal only. We don't have access to the game manual so it’s impossible to comment on whether or not the event types are detailed there. The option to enable subtitles should have been included. Of course once you’re au fait with the event types and the basics of the game, the omissions won’t really be much of a problem.
There was a time when January was virtually a dead month when it came to game releases. Nowadays things have changed and in January 2008 we have blockbuster titles such as Burnout Paradise to look forward to. There is no denying that the game is both equally impressive and very different from the previous Burnout titles. The core Burnout experience remains but it’s possible that the changes that have been made in Burnout Paradise will slightly disappoint just as many fans of the series as it will really impress those who didn’t take to the previous Burnout games. Whatever your take on Burnout Paradise there’s no denying that it’s a highly polished game on both the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 and it deserves a place in any driving game fans collection. Let’s hope that the next Burnout title is more kind to deaf gamers however.