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Burnout Paradise Review

I have to admit, I was completely wrong about Burnout Paradise after playing the demo and posting the comment under the Burnout Paradise Demo Released news post here on I was worried about the open world idea that Criterion Games built into Burnout Paradise. I felt that it would be a pain and I didn’t want to drive around to get from race to race or other events. I was hoping that they would include an optional menu system similar to the recent Need for Speed games that let you skip the driving from point to point and go right to the next race. This is what I did in Need for Speed Most Wanted and Carbon and wanted to do the same in Burnout Paradise after playing the demo.

Well, I was wrong, and driving from event to event in Burnout Paradise’s Paradise City isn’t annoying like I thought it would be, in fact it is a lot of fun! One of the things different than the demo is that you have tons of points on the map to race from, and to start a race you just pull up to any traffic light on the map and hit “Gas” and “Brake” at the same time and you are instantly taken into the race or other events. Burnout Paradise has very minimal load time and even that doesn’t seem out of place, since during this loading the game is showing you the start and finish line on the map for the event. After showing you the map you are taken directly into the race where you can choose your route as you drive and crash your way to the finish line.

Choosing your path to the finish is part of the fun, since you can use any road or shortcut to get there. Burnout Paradise will try to help you by flashing a road sign at the top of the screen to the left or the right based on which way it feels you should go. Your cars blinker also flashes to indicate which way to turn, but if you miss the first turn you can always go to the next. The only problem with this that can cause frustration is that some times you can get lost or you may get on a highway and get stuck where you can’t find an off ramp or other means of exiting the freeway until after you have passed the goal on the map. This can be a pain sometimes, but I also found after playing the game for a few hours, that if you find yourself totally behind and you don’t think you are going to win the race you can just initiate “Showtime” mode and start crashing into people and this takes you automatically out of the race or event.

Some people have complained about Burnout Paradise not having a retry/restart option, but with the ability to get out of any race whenever you want using “Showtime” mode helps. Also, not being able to restart really doesn’t bother me, since after the race is over if you lose there is another race or event on the map a block or two away. You can start another event and head back across the map where you can try the previous event you lost after maybe winning another one. Burnout Paradise also doesn’t force you to do one event after another in a set order. They pretty much give you all the events from the start and you can choose which ones you want to do to get credit for completing them. Once you complete enough events you are given a license upgrade and all the events you previously beat are open for you to try again.

The open world environment of Burnout Paradise looks amazing as you fly by at blazing speed, but it also looks really good when you are standing still. I compared both the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 versions by trying the demo versions and flipping back and forth between them. I think the PlayStation 3 version might have a little better lighting and graphics detail, but the Xbox 360 version has custom soundtracks and Achievments. They both look amazing and I don’t think you will be disappointed with either version. I ended up buying the Xbox 360 version because Best Buy had a deal if you bought the game and the Xbox 360 Wireless Racing Wheel you got a $20 gift card. Also, my 4-year old son has an easier time reaching the left analog stick on the Xbox 360 with his small hands, so the Xbox 360 version is what I chose and I am not disappointed.

If you were wondering, the Xbox 360 Wireless Racing Wheel works really well with the game. You will feel the rumbling when you crash and the pulling of the wheel when bumping into people and going around corners. I haven’t tried the wheel with any other games yet, but it is supposed to be good with Forza Motorsport 2, Project Gotham Racing 4, Need for Speed Carbon, and others. Though, I have to admit that we have been playing the game with the standard controller more than the steering wheel. I think the biggest reason is because my son can’t reach the pedals and see over the steering wheel at the same time.

Speaking of steering, Burnout Paradise controls amazingly no matter if you are using the Xbox 360 controller or Wireless Racing Wheel. You will feel totally in-control or as much in control as you can be when you are barreling down a freeway at 200MPH. I never felt disconnected from what I was inputting even when I crashed. Crashing is to be expected and you will do a lot of it. The button layout also works really well and you have easy access to all the different options in the game. As mentioned above, pressing the left and right triggers at the same time takes you into any event if you are at a stop light and pressing the right and left buttons at the same time takes you into “Showtime” mode. The gas and break are mapped to the right and left buttons as expected and handbrake and boost are mapped to the “A” (green) and “X” (blue) buttons. Every button is easily accessible even for my 4-year old, but that doesn’t mean you still won’t crash a lot.

Crashing is a big part of Burnout Paradise and other Burnout games in the series, but some people will be disappointed to hear that the “Crash Mode” has been removed from Burnout Paradise and replaced with “Showtime”. So, don’t expected specific challenges that have you trying to figure out the puzzle on how to rack up as many points as possible in a certain intersection. Instead you will be able to activate “Showtime” at any time on any of the 250 miles of road in Paradise City and try to rack up big points while bouncing down the road smashing into cars, trucks, buses, billboards, road signs, and more. This mode is different than “Crash Mode” but still fun and if you really want to play “Crash Mode” then pull out Burnout Revenge and have fun.

All of this racing and crashing wouldn’t be the same without the great sounds of huge amounts of power under the hood of every car and the bending and crumpling of metal when you crash. The sound effects in Burnout Paradise sound great and fit perfectly with the amazing amounts of speed and destruction throughout the game. Plus, when you are not listening to the crashes or engines boosting you get treated to some good music and DJ Atomika from the SSX series of games talking in your ear giving you tips and tricks and other updates. I like most of the songs in the game, but some of them are just okay. I am guessing others may like the songs I don’t, so I think the game has a perfect balance of different types and styles of music to choose from. Plus, if you don’t like one of the songs that come up then just hit the right button to switch to the next one or if you have the Xbox 360 version setup a custom soundtrack of your favorite tunes and you will be all set.

Burnout Paradise’s offline mode is entertaining and will keep you busy for a long time collecting the 80 different cars and completing all the offline events and challenges, but if you still want more even after that then you can adventure online with up to seven other players. Getting online is seamless and all it takes to be online playing against or with your friends is to press the digital pad right a few times to pick the settings and boom you are in the online mode. You don’t have to go to a different menu or wait for it to add you to the online world, you just enter the online world right where you left the offline world. Then, once online you can race against your friends and also try to complete the 400 online challenges for the 2-, 3-, 4-, 5-, 6-, 7- and 8-player modes. Online mode is a lot of fun, since you can work together to complete these challenges and give each other advice, but then easily switch to race mode and compete against each other.

Final Verdict

Burnout Paradise is different than the previous Burnout games in a lot of ways, but also keeps a lot of the things we all loved about the previous games intact. Blazing speed? Check. Amazing crashes? Check. Huge amounts of fun? Triple check! I could go on for a lot longer about Burnout Paradise, since it has tons of options to choose from and things to do, but I don’t want to waste your time any longer. Just go buy the game already or at least rent it. If you are a racing game fan you owe it to yourself to experience the thrills of Burnout Paradise and if you don’t like racing games you may still enjoy this game for its open world experience and great graphics, sound, and fun factor.


9.5 out of 10

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Burnout Paradise Review

Related Information

Posted by: cnc137
Date: February 2, 2008
Publisher: Electronic Arts
Developer: Criterion Games
Release Date: 01/22/2008
Genre: Racing
Number of Players: 1-8
ESRB Rating: Everyone 10+
System Reviewed: Xbox 360

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Categories: Xbox 360 Reviews, PlayStation 3 Reviews, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, Reviews

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