“The game is a literal playground of pace, damage and awesomeness.”
Burnout Paradise was undoubtedly one of the best driving games of the previous generation. One of the later games in the epic franchise constructed by Criterion Games and EA, Paradise combined an open-world, destruction-based driving experience with the latest mechanics and processing power of its time. Now, a fresh remaster of the game, with 4K capable visuals and fine-tuned workings, has arrived on current gen systems; 10 years after the game’s original release. Offering players the complete original package with a new, glossy coat of paint, fans of the Burnout series are unanimously keen to dive back into its unique, over-the-top, destructive universe once again. The big question, however, as with any modern remaster, is does the experience still hold up?
For those of you who are new to the Burnout model, the driving game franchise is entirely based around speed and destruction. From classic street races to takedown-focused challenges, the games fall somewhere between Need For Speed and Destruction Derby, with a little added sugar and spice to sweeten the deal. Paradise was one of the most popular titles in the franchise at the time of its original release in 2008. Boasting a hefty, bright, challenge-based open world with a multitude or vehicles to race and wreck, Burnout Paradise offered players a game where the city was their playground and driving was allowed to be exciting, intense and fun. Graciously, this free-feeling, exciting intent has not slipped from the developers’ minds. Add to this an awesome soundtrack borne of rock, metal and pop punk hits, led of course by Guns ‘n’ Roses’ Paradise City, and Burnout Paradise is essentially the Tony Hawks’ equivalent of driving games.
Starting out with a basic wreck of a stunt car, you are dropped straight into the freedom of Burnout Paradise from the moment the opening cutscene ends. You are given some light, tutorial-style introduction to the workings of the world, but one of the game’s real delights is that it’s exciting mode of play is kept intentionally simple yet effective. The control scheme is super easy to pick up, with acceleration, brakes and boost being pretty much all you need. Every event you can enter is incredibly easy to get to grips with too. Races take place in a simple A to B structure using the in-game map, whilst modes such as Road Rage literally revolve around destroying a set number of cars in a given time. Despite these simple premises and goals, the experience in intense, exciting and enticing. The various game modes are consistently changing and never get old. The game is a literal playground of pace, damage and awesomeness.
The open world model of Burnout Paradise also rewards exploration. Various stunt jumps to complete work towards in-game challenges, whilst finding shortcuts around the map can give you the edge in races. The inclusion of the Big Surf Island DLC map extension adds to the breadth of the game world significantly too, and gives you plenty of additional challenges to enjoy. Naturally, your successes are rewarded with ever more impressive vehicles to enjoy. From cars, to bikes, to monster trucks, there is plenty of content to fight to unlock. Each type of car drives differently, being tailored towards a different activity in the game. The big trucks, for example, naturally promote your destructive prowess, whilst sports cars and bikes give you that speed and stunting edge. No matter what you drive, however, it is never difficult to get used to a car, with the game pushing the experience for all types of players rather than ramping up difficulty in that area.
In addition to single player gameplay in Burnout Paradise’s lovely open world, open online play allows you to test your skills and grit against other players. If, however, you are more of a couch competition kind of player, one of the game’s very best features is its local party mode. A variety of stunt, time trial and destruction-based challenges allow up to 8 players to compete for points and insane driving game glory. In the past, Burnout Paradise’s party mode has been one of my favourite local multiplayer games to play with family and friends, and thankfully this experience really does hold up. The new lick of paint adds something to the experience too, which leads onto my next point…
Whilst Burnout Paradise Remastered looks impressive with its fancy new graphics and traditional, visually enticing bright and colourful appearance, the gameplay is largely unchanged from the original. For the most part this is fine, as the simple and effective mode of play, as I have mentioned, is very strong. The game’s biggest problem however persists into this new and “improved” remaster; the camera. The one, big, frustrating problem with Burnout Paradise has always been the behaviour of the camera when you are trying to move in any direction other than forwards. Beyond this, trying to look around and successfully manouver at the same time becomes a frustrating and painful experience. It is unfortunate, then, that this single, significant issue could not be fixed for the updated, remastered game.
This brings me to my final conclusion; why buy Burnout Paradise Remastered? It’s a great game, true, and it looks shinier now, of course. But really, given that the original is only ten years old and available on both PC and last gen consoles, not a lot has changed to justify the stunningly high asking price that EA have attached to this version. Logic dictates that players should shoot for the slightly older, significantly cheaper original version of the game than spend 3 times as much, or more, on the remaster as it stands. That being said, should the price come down and future updates fix some now ten-year-old issues, Burnout Paradise Remastered could be well worth your time and attention in the near future.