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Old 02-05-2008, 02:34 AM   #1401
Joe Redifer
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Join Date: Dec 2002
Location: Denver, Colorado
Posts: 20,149
Burnout Paradise
Playstation 3

Typical EA box art, emphasizing black on white.

Burnout is a great racing series which emphasizes chaos and damage, two things I approve of. The first two Burnout games were pretty good. Then came Burnout 3: Takedown with it's restructured and rethought gameplay in addition to it's amazing crash mode. It was the best Burnout yet! Then came Burnout Revenge which was a slight improvement on part 3, except they broke the crash mode. Now comes Burnout Paradise where you are in an open city (like the above-reviewed Test Drive Unlimited, though the city is much smaller) and can choose from 120+ events at your leisure. EA brags about no loading ever! But how does this game truly stack up to the other Burnouts?

"Freeburn" is the mode where you just cruise around aimlessly. Lots and lots to discover!

Graphics: 8/10
The graphics are really smooth and run at a constant 60fps without any hiccups or frame droppage at all (reports are that the Xbox 360 version drops a frame once in a blue moon). The car wreck scenes are really awesome, but I noticed that there are no humans at all in Paradise City. None. The cars all drive themselves. That makes me sad as I'd really like to see people flying through the windshield, get decapitated and other fun stuff which we only get to see in real life. I'd also like to be able to run over homeless people on the sidewalk. The game's native resolution is 720p and cruising around looks noticeably better than Burnout Revenge running in 480p on an original Xbox. Lots of repetitive tiles are used in places for texture. It can also be very difficult to see anything in the distance, especially turns.

You are forced to watch every single wreck in super slow motion which can seem like an eternity.

Sound: 8/10
A step forward AND backwards for the Burnout series! First of all, we can now play the game in DTS (on the PS3, but not on the 360) which compresses sound less than Dolby Digital. Unfortunately this game has absolutely no discrete subwoofer at all (UPDATE: Subwoofer has been added to the game). Burnout 3 and Revenge had discrete subwoofer and it really made racing, boosting and especially crashing sound amazingly powerful. In other words, there is no ".1" in the 5.1 sound here. Again we are blessed with the world famous "EA TRAX" here, and as always most of the songs they select for us are incredibly bad. Bands like Jane's Addiction, Guns N Roses, Alice in Chains, Seether, Maxeen, N.E.R.D., Jimmy Eat World, etc round out this stale roster. There are two songs from the old 3DO Road Rash, though. A few select tracks from older Burnout games are also provided. Unfortunately the PS3 version does not support custom soundtracks which is a HUGE sin in a game like this. Also I really hope DJ Atomica dies, as there is no way to turn him completely off. He's always there with a smarmy comment about how he only salutes the best and you're not worth it or some lame shit like that. I bet he'd like to be punched in the face with my fist.

Catch some awesome air by jumping off of the tops of buildings. Your suspension will survive.

Gameplay: 9/10
This game is, like, soooo totally fun to the max. It offers some relaxing fun in "Freeburn" mode, just cruising around town and finding gates and billboards to smash, jumps to perform, etc, all at no consequence. To start an event, you pull up to an intersection and press both gas and brake simultaneously (that is if you have at least one finger on each hand). Each intersection offers a different event such as Race (self explanatory), Stunt Mode (do tricks to meet the point quota), Marked Man (make it from point A to point B without totaling your car as other cars try to make you sad), Road Rage (take out as many opponents as you can and make them sad) and Burning Route (make it from point A to point B before time runs out, but only in a specific vehicle). There is also a gimpy "Showtime" mode which attempts to replace the old Crash mode. You can do it at any time just by pressing L1 and R1 simultaneously. Your goal is to cause as much damage as possible, but the only reason to ever do this is to beat your old high score on a particular road. Not particularly fun, especially since you bounce around for 90 minutes like a rubber ball in slow motion, so it doesn't even look as cool as the old crash mode (which could almost qualify as a puzzle game).

Here's "Showtime" for ya. You can probably go around the entire city on one Showtime event.
It can last minutes upon minutes, maybe even hours if you can keep your boost up. Ug.

There are a few problems with Burnout Paradise. In order to say "OMG no loading!1! looook!!", EA has intentionally sacrificed gameplay. If you lose a race, you cannot select an option to retry it (UPDATE: Burnout Paradise now allows you to restart any event. Simple press RIGHT on the d-pad and select "Restart Event". This completely remedies this old complaint). Instead you must drive all the way back to the beginning where the race starts which takes about 20-160 times longer than any loading screen ever would. If you fail a Burning Route by 2 seconds, you want to retry it right away when the route is fresh in your mind, not worry about driving all the way back to the beginning. Another thing which I don't particularly care for is being forced to find my own route during races. Looking at the map and/or compass takes my eyes off the race and causes me to crash. The map is far away from the main action, and unless you have a small screen you must look away from what you are doing in order to study it. Also you cannot warp anywhere on the map, even if you've been where you want to go a million times. You must drive EVERYWHERE! You can't even warp to your junk yards to switch your car. If you pull up to a Burning Route, it is likely that you have the wrong car. It does not offer to let you switch your car right there on the spot like Test Drive Unlimited does. All races should offer this as it becomes a major pain to drive to a junk yard just to get a car for one event that you want to complete. Online mode is fun with friends (and free on the PS3), but there isn't a split screen mode and apparently lots of people are complaining about that over on EA's forums. Oh, and there IS some loading when you start an event, but EA tries to disguise it.

The Road Rage events are pretty easy and really fun if you're on a narrow road.

Wrap up:
Not as good as the previous 2 real Burnouts (the PSP version doesn't count), but still a good game and definitely recommended. The open world concept is done much better in Test Drive Unlimited, and I wish the developers had taken a look at that game for ideas before releasing this. Still, driving around wherever I choose whenever I choose is great fun and adds to the game. Now if only they'd release a patch that enabled custom soundtracks.

UPDATE: EA and Criterion also offer a plethora of free content via download. This upgrades the game in many ways by adding nightime modes, motorcycles, new modes of gamepla, etc. They also offer a few pay-to-download upgrades like the Big Surf Island which adds more area to the map to drive in as well as new events to complete. Burnout Paradise also seems to have the most trophies available for any PS3 game ever, with nearly 100 to earn, if not more.
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