Burnout Paradise Review 07/06/2010

Get ready to crash into traffic, crash into walls, crash into buildings, crash, crash and crash again. There’s also some racing.

Burnout 3: Takedown was probably one of the best games on the PS2, and possibly one of the best arcade racers ever. The concept of smashing fellow drivers off the track in ludicrous explosive metal crunching fashion was not really original or unique, but it was executed so fantastically, looked unbelievable and ran so smoothly it was like nothing any PS2 owner had played before. The sensation of speed was mind blowing and the focus on big crashes was its unique selling point. Most gamers’ favourite aspect was “crash mode” where you speed to an intersection/junction and see just how much carnage can you cause. Getting your mates round and seeing who can cause the most destruction is what made Burnout the king of the arcade racer. All Burnout PSP games had very similar qualities, but now Burnout really gets to rev its engine with its seventh instalment on the PS3, where Burnout Paradise gives you the run of an entire city, with a fully simulated road and motorway/highway network with a racing event on every street. As is always the case when game sequels get expanded and studios decide to fiddle with already winning formulas, does bigger mean better and is change always good? For anyone that has not played a Burnout game before it is basically an arcade racer, where you will have to compete in lots of events that generally involve racing from start to finish, smashing all your opponents off the track and of course crashing. There are lots of cars to win and choose from, and they generally range from being road going tanks that are as tough as meat pie and will flatten all opponents, but can’t go round corners, to being lightning fast and agile but will disintegrate under a slight breeze. All have different uses in different events and all deliver a blistering sensation of speed. The key to Burnout, other than driving like a psychopath, is to fill up your boost meter and continuously nitrous your way to victory. This is done by doing everything you shouldn’t do on a road, such as driving the wrong way down the street, very nearly hitting other road users, drifting, smashing your opponents into walls and other cars, performing ludicrous mile long jumps and flips and generally causing as much road going mayhem as possible. This is not Gran Turismo.

What’s good?

It’s still a proper Burnout game. Although Criterion studios has decided to meddle with stuff that really didn’t need it (more on that in a bit) it has still made a proper mental Burnout game. Anyone who has played any burnout game before will be right at home straight away, only everything now looks shinier and more detailed. For those who have never played Burnout, expect to find really simple driving controls, with a very arcade feel to the cars, that delivers an eye melting sensation of speed and the most over the top chaotic carnage induced racing ever. You will have to smash, bash and crash your way to the win in every event, as there are no points for second place, and it is exhilarating to say the least. Smashing a competitor in to an oncoming concrete pillar, which will show you a cut scene of the car folding like an accordion in slow motion, then taking the chequered flag makes you feel an ecstasy that only the god of driving can experience. Where in contrast, cresting a slight hill at over 200 mph on the wrong side of the road, finding a bus on the other side, which you hit, and having to watch your poor smouldering car batter down the road in a multiple, crumpled, flipping heap and come to a rest as your competitors fly past you, will make you want to create a PS3 shaped hole in your wall. It is a rollercoaster ride of pure adrenaline to pure fury and Burnout never allows you to experience anything in the middle. If you like going fast, smashing opponents into walls and generally driving like a lunatic then Burnout will be a must.

It still has a huge emphasis on crashing. If you love the sound and look of metal twisting and contracting under the pressure of a high impact this will be practically pornography for you. In Burnout you will crash a lot, which is possibly the understatement of the year. You crash so much that often you will do races where 90% of the route has been covered in a wrecked crumpled heap rather than a race car. Do not despair, however, as crashing is what Burnout is about and whenever you do, it shows you a slow motion cut scene of your impact, which all slip seamlessly into the action, never really get boring and make even the lamest of impacts look awesome. There is not a point in the game where you won’t be going “ooooooo” or “aaaaaah” when colliding with a sheer brick wall at top speed and watching your poor car get crumpled to half its length. An addition to the game now is you can start a “show time” crash sequence whenever you want, literally on any street any time, by pressing L2 and R2, and your car will flip into a crash sequence where you have to use X and the directional buttons to guide your wreck down a street causing as much carnage as you can. It is ridiculous as you watch a burning wreck bounce endlessly down a street, but will certainly please those of you who are purely in it for the crashing, destruction and violence.

There is an unbelievable amount to do. Firstly there is all the different sorts of races. You have your standard racing of course, which is a check point to check point race the route of which is up to you, and the awesome “Road Rage” remains, where you drive anywhere you want but you have to take down a certain number of competitors within the time limit or before you wreck. But now you have “marked man” events where you have to get from one part of the city to the other, as in the races, but you will have several very tough enemy cars trying to take you down before you make it, and stunt drive events, where you have to rack up a certain amount of points by driving like a maniac within a time limit. Points are awarded for jumps, mid air spins or flips, drifting and of course, crashing. Finally there is “burning routes” which are basically time trials you can only do with a specific car, but if you win, you get an upgraded version of the car delivered to your junkyard. These events are scattered all over the city and are literally on every corner, 120 events in all, so there is so many it would be impossible to get bored. Then there is 75 cars to be had in this game and all of them have to be won. You get a few delivered to you but most have to be found driving around the city and you have to take them down to get them. It’s not worth searching for them, trust me, just keep racing and driving and eventually one will drive past you. All cars, once repaired can have their paint jobs customised to an extent as well. It constantly tries to get you to alternate your vehicles as well, as the events are so varied it is not worth holding onto a favourite car for too long as the fast and agile ones are pretty useless in road rage and marked man events, whereas the giant vans and trucks are too sluggish and heavy to race with. It gives you a lot to do and demands you vary your skills so if you want to take this all the way to completion there is a lot to keep you busy.

The sensation of speed is mind blowing. Anyone played the excellent “Need for Speed: Shift”? Well, the sensation of speed in that game is pretty scary in a realistic sort of way, but Burnout craps all over it for the sheer thrill of blasting down a dual carriage way at a warp speed only the Starship Enterprise would comprehend. It is ridiculous! When you start to get the cars with maxed out boost and speed stats the blistering velocity becomes so stupid that it borders on uncontrollable. If you see some headlights of some poor bastard normal road user on the horizon, too late, you are going to hit it. Reaction times have to be reduced to nano seconds to go more than twenty feet without crashing, drifting can only be done in mile wide turns, jumps can launch you out of the game and generally it takes the laws of physics and simply throws them away. Its terrifying, but few games out there offer a speed thrill of these proportions.

The soundtrack is awesome. Obviously this is a matter of opinion, but if you like lots of hard fast rock, speed metal and punk, then you will be quite pleased. Highlights included the “Sugarcult” and their excellent “dead living”, “Alice in chains”, “Seether”, “N.E.R.D.” and the legendary and highly appropriate “Guns and Roses”, “Paradise City”. It does have a few questionable tracks such as the interminable “Avril Lavigne” and “Girlfriend” (oh god it’s so bloody awful!), but generally you wont be disappointed. I like the fact that not only does it suit the game and action perfectly, but it doesn’t try to incorporate varying types of music for all types. Its rock and metal and that’s it. If you don’t like it, don’t play it.

What’s bad?

They have practically got rid of crash mode. My biggest issue with Burnout Paradise is that fact that crash mode has now gone. Hitting R2 and L2 to start a crash sequence whenever you want (now called “show time”) probably seemed like a good idea but I much preferred the setting of them in Burnout 3: Takedown. It just seems so pointless now, as there is no real reward and no particular moment to best hit the crash breaker. Plus watching your wreck bounce down the street is just stupid, compared to trying to hit crash breakers and points multipliers. If this was your favourite event in previous Burnout games, which is highly likely, then be prepared to be disappointed.

I didn’t like the marked man or stunt run events either. These two events are ok, and offer a little variety, but they have basically taken away the most fun things about Burnout for them. Marked man doesn’t involve you hitting anyone at all, just fleeing for your life and trying not to crash. You can try and takedown the enemy vehicles but they are like wheeled granite, i.e. ludicrously tough to take down and they will simply spawn back instantly when you do and you get nothing for it. The stunt run events are pretty pointless as well and you nearly always have to resort to jumps, as these make the biggest point multipliers. There are only a few decent locations for jumps in the city so every time you do a stunt run event you always have to end up going to one of a few places, and do the same thing. Plus doing a spin in midair or flip is impossibly difficult and the time is very limited. These two events don’t necessarily bring down the experience but you will very quickly start avoiding them and heading for the race and road rage events instead.

This game doesn’t work as well with free roam. I really do think Burnout belongs on tracks, as Paradise City is not quite as great as it seems. Firstly it’s surprisingly small, as when viewed on the map it looks huge but you can blast from one side to the other in around a minute and a half. Secondly, there is only a few finishing points in the whole city so every race will end in one of a few places basically making you take the same roads every single time, often the widest and straightest, thus it gets really repetitive. Thirdly, as the route to the finish line is entirely up to you, you will spend the majority of the time flicking between your map and racing which just gets irritating, and if you make one wrong turn, especially in the faster cars or when doing a burning route, you’re going to lose. Again, it probably seemed like a good idea in production but I think it worked much better on tracks.

There’s no split screen racing for you and your mate. Not a lot else to say about it I’m afraid, but if you want to race your pal you will have to do it online and on a different TV. Considering it was possible in all other console titles, and games like Motorstorm have four player split screen, it is disappointing.

Who in the hell thought DJ Atomica was a good idea? There is a guy who comes over the radio from time to time when your generally driving around called DJ Atomica, on Crash FM. Yes, that is possibly the most wanky name ever and he coincidently is the most wanky human being ever. He just has such an annoying, cocky, and arrogant voice, constantly condescends you whenever you lose and generally acts like a tosser. He keeps going on about “wild” parties he goes to and “crazy” crashes hes done and just irritates and annoys whenever he decides to pipe up. It doesn’t spoil the game, but the same thought of “shut your face, moron” will go through your mind every time he spreads his moronic bullshit on the air waves. This total prat should be shot.


Burnout Paradise keeps the ideals of all its predecessors, by delivering a totally chaotic, super fast, crashing and smashing arcade racer. There’s loads of events to keep you busy, loads of cars, the race and road rage events are huge fun, offer big thrills and the sensation of speed is unlike anything you will have played before. If you want to race cars, smash opponents off the track and crash, a hell of a lot, then Burnout Paradise is for you. Unfortunately though, if you have played all previous Burnout games, and thus have a basis for comparison, there is a bit to dislike. Mainly the hugely enjoyable crash mode has been replaced with “show time” which isn’t nearly as good, and a few other additional events, such as “stunt run” are utterly pointless. Plus the free roam of the city isn’t that great and much pausing to look at the map will break the racing up too often which will irritate. It still does most things you will expect, so saying “you will be disappointed” is a bit harsh, but it isn’t as good as Burnout 3: Takedown. The closest competition is “Midnight Club: LA” and “Motorstorm”. They are similar to Burnout but Midnight Club focuses more on customising and Motorstorm is an off roader. Midnight Club is a hard game to like, to difficult, too frustrating, too joyless, so definitely choose Burnout over Rockstar’s racer. But it marginally has to play second fiddle to Motorstorm. There’s not a lot in it but Motorstorm offers just as hectic racing with mighty crashes, but the tracks are really well designed as are the different vehicles and it is just generally a little more fun. Plus it has four player split screen. So if your after this sort of arcade racer Motorstorm is probably worth a visit first. Burnout offers a massively more intense sensation of speed, but to be fair strapping yourself to a Saturn V NASA space rocket doesn’t offer the same sensation of speed as Burnout. Personally I think the best racer on the PS3 so far is Need for Speed: Shift, but it is a lot more grown up and serious than Burnout, and to be fair, you can do far worse than pick up Burnout Paradise for your joy of crashing………I mean racing.CA.


Is it user-friendly/easy to get into? – 9.0

It’s a very simple game but just executed very well. Nothing here will be a surprise. Incredibly easy to get straight online as well.

Is the story any good? – 0.0

There isn’t one.

How does it look? – 9.0

It doesn’t quite have the level of detail of some more modern racers, or games in general, but it runs incredibly smoothly and never stops or pauses or loads or anything. The slow motion crashes are awesome to behold as well.

How does it sound? – 8.0

If you like fast, hard and heavy rock bands, that suits smashing through traffic and blasting down motorways/highways perfectly, then you will love it. This is ruined from time to time by the verbal dog crap “DJ Atomica” comes up with though.

Is it good to play? – 8.0

It is a crash Nirvana, so prepared to crash a thousand times a race. The sensation of speed is mind blowing, as is the satisfaction of battering someone into a concrete wall and it is generally petrol driven adrenaline pumping stuff. It’s just such a shame that crash mode is no more and several new events, such as “stunt run” are pretty lame. Veteran Burnout gamers will be a little let down.

When will I get bored? – 8.5

A huge free roam city with vast road network and a race on every corner. Yes, there is a hell of a lot to do for the single player and you can take your racing online just as easily. Pretty disappointing to not have split screen though and you will tire of its repetitiveness.


Review created by C. Armstrong.

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