Video Game Review – Burnout: Paradise (PS3)

The Cover art from the PS3 version of Burnout Paradise
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So, I’ve previously reviewed Need for Speed: ProStreet and Carbon. Both were pretty decent racing racing games, putting aside the very significant and major flaws I pointed out in my reviews of both games. Well, in my review of ProStreet, I said I’d give GRID a try. As you can tell from the title of the review, I haven’t. What I have tried is Criterion’s more arcade style, open world street racing game Burnout: Paradise. I’ve basically made it through career mode (I’ve gotten my Burnout License), so it’s time to give my thoughts on the game.

The Premise:

No particularly story in this game. You complete various racing events in the fictitious city of Paradise City. As you complete racing events, you upgrade your license. As you upgrade your license you unlock additional cars, as well as unlocking cars by taking them out (by which I mean force them into a wreck) while driving around the city.

The Good:

The Burnout games have generally been known for solid racing, and enjoyable crashes, and this game is no exception. It’s refreshing to see a game (particularly after the last few Need for Speed games) which doesn’t penalize you for crashing particularly (at least not as heavily as those games did). Further, considering the spectacular cut-scenes you get when you crash, I might say it rewards you for crashing in the course of a race.

Also, there is an excellent variety of events around the city for you to race – from demolition derby-esque events which have you trying to take down a certain number of opposing cars, to chase events which have you running from a bunch of other cars to reach a certain point without getting taken down, to your more standard race types, plus a stunt mode that has you hitting jumps, drifting through turns, and so on. All of these allow you to change up your game experience more than Need For Speed’s Sprint, Lap, Drag, and Drift race types.

The Bad:

If you’ve played the first few Tony Hawk games, then you’re familiar with the concept of trick lines. If you aren’t familiar with the concept, I’ll explain. A trick line is when you have a series of items (be they ramps or other things) that you can trick off in sequence to get a good score. You can trick off other items to get the score you need, but the trick line is the ideal way to get the score you need to meet or exceed, if not the only only. It’s artificial, and if it’s required to hit the trick line to progress then I’m not a big fan of it, particularly in playground/sandbox games like Burnout and Tony Hawk. This game uses Trick Lines for the stunt events.

The Ugly:

The problem with racing games in an open-world environment is that, really, it’s difficult to tell where you need to go. You can follow the crowd of other racers, which will get you there, but can also put you in a position where however you win, it won’t necessarily be by much. On the other hand, you can go off the route the rest of the racers are taking, and see if you can get there by a shorter means. However, you either have to have a lot of knowledge of the city, or you have to keep checking your mini-map.  As much as it breaks the immersion of the game, having a giant green arrow on top of your car pointing your towards your objective (plus the mini-map, and maybe a few other indicators) have their place.

The Verdict:

This is the only racing game that I can reasonably say that I’ve “beaten” in that I’ve completed the career mode – though I did not 100% Complete it.  That says a lot for this game. Enough that I recommend purchasing it (either as a physical copy, or from the PSN store.)