Greetings fellow time travellers and welcome to a new weekly article from me, Phil Dean, where I cast your minds back a few years and revisit some of our gaming greats from that scary realm called ‘The Past’. For the past 12 months, the term ‘Next Gen’ has been harshly carved into our brains by the media, game developers, retail outlets and advertising, and it’s been difficult since mid 2013 to escape the prospect of this new age generation of our favourite past time. The hype for this new wave of next generation gaming took the world by storm and we all bought it into it, with each console being difficult to pick up and every Tom, Dick and Susan (can’t be sexist now can we) was foaming at the mouth writing their lists of big releases we just couldn’t wait for. After a rough few years the next step in gaming evolution was here in glorious fashion … but we all know that was bollocks. Sure there have been some great releases within this past year but none the less it’s been a rather disappointing crappy year for us folk, broken games, endless delays and potential GOTY contenders not even making game of the week. 2014 was the first year I stopped purchasing games on day of release, and not only have I saved myself a lot of money, but I’ve saved myself rather a lot of wasted hours on games that haven’t lived up to the hype. So with that, I began cracking out my older consoles and playing games almost a decade old that are far more superior to anything released on our consoles today, so here’s Flashback Friday, a brief review of yesteryear’s games that are not only better than what’s currently available, but are at least a tenth of the price. After today’s pilot, each week I will throw at least 2 gems from my collection into your face like an egotistical maniac who claims to own the finest games in history, this is of course not the case as I did foolishly buy The Simpsons Skateboarding and I still have Dark Void somewhere. Every article will be a delightful digital romp through the nostalgic fields of the past where we realise that the new generation of gaming isn’t quite here yet but cheaper alternatives are; I’ll be like the Martin Lewis of gaming journalism.
Paradise City > The entire USA
It’s fair to say that I am one of the worst gamers when it comes to racing sims, so I have tried my upmost hardest to restrain myself from giving them a whirl. I always thought Gran Turismo and F1 were too serious for me, Wipeout tended to dry my eyeballs out and Mario Kart was too frustrating, however the Burnout franchise left a delicious aftertaste in my mouth. Such racing titles that involve disobeying corners, crashing into your opponents and taking shortcuts have been branded with my own sub genre entitled ‘Dirty Drivers’, and only racing games that asked you to completely disregard rules intrigued me, but I never thought any of them would become one of my all time favourite games. Being a huge fan of Burnout Revenge for the PS2, I thought I’d give Burnout Paradise a crack and here I am 7 years later still playing it on a regular basis and it still doesn’t feel dated or underwhelming. Hyped up as the first open world racing title, Burnout Paradise took Criterion’s brutal racing ethics and design and moved it into a HUGE and fully interactive city which saw you compete in over 100 racing events. Previewers were excited for the game’s release but took it with a pinch of salt regarding its replayability and longevity, but they soon ate their words after its release to find a game that so many doubted be one of the greatest racing games ever made, which still stands tall nowadays. In 2008 it looked fantastic, the game’s AI actually improved as you progressed, dozens of vehicles were at your disposal and it even came with a pretty remarkable online mode, all of which still apply to firing up the game in 2015. It is by no means the biggest in game map, just look at Ubisoft’s The Crew, but Paradise City was the perfect sized map for the game, and it was large enough to provide variety but small enough for you to learn each route that you barely used the mini-map after a while. Everything about Burnout Paradise was staggering, even much so that the good guys and gals at Criterion released free patches and updates to the game, including adding a day/night cycle and adding motorbikes to the roster, all because we asked for them, if only other developers did that the world would be a better place.
Now going back to The Crew, this is the only game that’s come close to Burnout Paradise’s calibre, (Criterion did reboot Need For Speed: Most Wanted, but that was an already established franchise so we’ll ignore that one for now) and it is a bloody good effort, but even for a game made 6 years later, The Crew just doesn’t feel as polished or as impacting as Paradise. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a pretty awesome game that I enjoy because of its similarities to Burnout and its mind blowing how big it is, but it’s just not in the same league. Smashing into vehicles isn’t satisfying, I’m only confined to half a dozen cars and it seems as the majority of the country’s population has migrated as it’s far too quiet. Where are all the moronic civilians that indicate properly into the adjacent street just as I viciously come cruising through? Where is the smug nemesis that I try and ram off the road only to cream myself into a skyscraper? Where is the true feeling of accomplishment when I finish an event? They are all nowhere to be found in The Crew, but they’re what make Burnout Paradise so action packed and exciting to play and watch. What makes The Crew a terrific achievement is its large scale, having to drive from one city to the next, cruise through one state to the other and taking in the amazing landscapes and avoiding the police, all of that is brilliant, but why did Ubisoft have to be so boring about it? In Paradise City I had specialist cars to track down and destroy, jumps to clear, billboards to fly into and shortcut gates to smash through, all of which may be fewer than the side missions and trials in The Crew, but they’re delivered in such a satisfying package that Burnout Paradise is a game that will never get old.
If you’re looking for that ‘next gen’ racer than The Crew, Forza 5 and Sony’s Driveclub are excellent achievements, though not all perfect, they certainly look great and play well, accommodating to players of all ability and age. Yet if you want my honest opinion for not only what I regard as the greatest and most stimulating racing game ever made, then Burnout Paradise cannot be recommended enough. It’s exciting, full to the brim of content (free extra content too) and you can pick it up for under a tenner, need I say more? But don’t take only my word for it, here are a few similar cheap alternatives from friends who also share my Burnout stiffy –
- Dirt 3
- Destruction Derby
- Need For Speed: Most Wanted (2012)
If you agree or disagree with my views & opinions or have a suggestion for anything I can look at, please drop a message below and together we can save the lives of some innocent games being traded in before their time.