Known for its high speed races and brutally realistic crashes, the Burnout series has become a staple for any racing game fans out there. The genre was revolutionized with the 2008 installment, Burnout Paradise, which was the seventh game in the series. For the first time in series, Burnout included a totally open world design where players can play in any way that they want.
Burnout does not feature and structured or overlying story arc in it. The premise of the game is that you are a new driver in the fictional Paradise City. You start out with a Class D license and to be recognized as a real driver of Paradise City you must work your way up by winning numerous different races and challenge types to prove you really have what it takes to call yourself a true driver. The game is set in a totally open world where every intersection contains a different challenge. To enter you simply hold the accelerator and the brake at the same time. The game includes the generic race as well as events such as road rage, marked man, and stunt run. In marked man you must take out a set number of competing cars within a time period. Marked man forces you to drive from one point to another without being taken out by the cars chasing you and stunt run is a timed run where you must get a certain point score by hitting jumps, spinning, etc. There are hundreds of challenges to partake in and each level of license requires you to win a certain amount to upgrade. When you upgrade some of the races reset so that they can be done again for more points later.
There are eight different ending destinations where every race will end; one at every direction on the compass (ie: N , NE,SE, etc.). Races can range from a sprint down a straight run to a 5 mile long race through crazy uphill mountain curves and narrow roads. The thing that I really loved about the races was they are not limited or confined to one path. In racing games that feature open world design, there are usually routes sectioned off for the race, but not in Burnout. There is a GPS that directs you to your destination but you can take any route you want. Depending on your driving preferences and strengths, as well as the car you are using, the path the GPS gives may not be the fastest route. There are a few railroad tracks and highways that span the length of the island that can be used as express routes in races. I also loved that the AI did not necessarily all take the same route. There were times where the competitors split into three or four groups all on different routes. It makes it really hard to judge where you really are in comparison to the others, which makes it that much more fun. Some of my closest races somehow ended up with me coming from the complete opposite direction as the AI and crossing the finish line mere milliseconds before them.
You cannot talk about a racing game without discussing the most important part, the cars. There are 75 cars that can be used in the game; all of which are unlocked as you win races instead of using a currency system. Some cars are simply given to you after you move up a level on the license. Most of them though are cars that appear somewhere on the map and then you must find them and take them out to add them to your collection. There are numerous different cars including some designed for speed, some designed to be brutes and take damage, and then some that fall somewhere in the middle. There are vans, trucks and motorcycles as well. Each vehicle has a designated “burning route” somewhere on the road that is a challenge for that car only. Basically it is a time trial where you must make it from point A to point B within the given time. These burning routes also count towards your next license which is nice. With the addition of extra packs on the Burnout store, you can unlock toy cars which are mini versions of real cars as well as legendary cars such as the DeLorean from back to the future or KITT from Knight Rider. All of the cars handle differently and it comes down to your preferences as to which car is the best as there is no clear superior. And most importantly, the crash mode from the past games remains, except in this game it is known as ‘Showtime’ where you make the car crash/explode on command.
The transition from single play to multiplayer on this game is one of the most seamless transitions I have seen in a game. You simply press a button on the d-pad (I use an Xbox360 controller) and you can join an online game. You can join ‘freeburn’ matches where you simply drive around with other players as well as racing and freeburn challenge modes where the game gives you challenges and you must complete them as a group. The only thing that I did not really like about the online is that it seems that the community is slowly shrinking, which is no fault of the game as it is a few years old already.
This game is one of the most beautiful racing games that I have played. The design is makes you feel like you are in a real city, not one subtly designed for racing as some other games have done. All of the cars are extremely detailed and the crash mechanics are unlike anything that I have ever seen in a game. Even the NPC cars are pretty detailed and there is a nice collection of different cars randomly driving around the city. Also in this game is full day/night cycle that takes about 45 minutes to go through at default but you can change that you whatever you want it to be. The layout of the world also encouraged and rewarded exploration. Besides the races being found at every intersection in the game, there are billboards to jump through, shortcuts to find and super jumps to hit all over the map. Some of them really take some searching to find as well. There are also some hidden gems such as the stock car dirt track hidden in the woods as well as tucked away airfield that is full of crazy jumps making it a skate park for cars.
I have really enjoyed playing this game the last few days. I still have a few races to win before I have finished everything, but I have put close to 15 hours into it already and still have a few cars to unlock. I love the open design of the game and how it really promotes exploration. The game somehow manages to be crazy and over the top at some points with the jumps, etc yet it still retains a sense of being a serious racing game that is challenging and poses the very real risk of crashing. Plus it has an awesome rock soundtrack with Guns N’ Roses’ “Paradise City” being the title track.I highly recommend this to any racers out there and if you have not played any of the games in this genre, then I suggest you change that with this game. I purchased the game on Gamefly but you can find it on any major retailer/ site such as Steam and Origin.