Criterion's classic racing series is back with an enhanced version of its latest installment. However, does Burnout Paradise hold up over a decade after its initial release? Of course it does, so put the pedal to the metal and let's race!
When I think of incredible racing games, I almost exclusively think of the Burnout series. The fast-paced arcade-style mayhem that Criterion created has never been outmatched yet, for some reason, Burnout has taken a back seat for the past ten years. Sure, we got a few awesome Need for Speed games from them and a goofy downloadable game in the form of Burnout Crash but nothing has topped the open-world Burnout Paradise. There's something about driving through the massive Paradise City that's so immediately gratifying that whenever I play it, I frequently forget that there are actual events to take on. While actually racing, the feeling of gaining boost while driving on the wrong side of the road and performing takedowns as you catch up to your opponents is so exhilarating. The controls are perfect, the sense of speed is astounding, and even wiping out will make you say "hell yeah!"
Of course, Burnout Paradise's graphics and sound were phenomenal ten years ago and thankfully, they still are. I'm not much of a graphics expert but I can clearly see that the visuals of Burnout Paradise Remastered are definitely improved. Everything is detailed and gorgeous and the most impressive aspect is that you go so darn fast yet the environments never pop in which adds a layer of immersion as if the city was actually alive. The audio is equally satisfying with spot-on effects as your engine revs and you inevitably crash into an oncoming vehicle. Another noteworthy aspect that carried over from the original game is the soundtrack. There are 90 tracks from artists such as LCD Soundsystem (yes!), Depeche Mode, Twisted Sister, Junkie XL, and, of course, Guns N' Roses.
As you race around the city while completing various events such as Race, Road Rage, Stunt Run, Marked Man, and Burning Route, you'll also break collectible signs, perform special super jumps, master Road Rules, and even takedown specific vehicles in order to unlock them. If that isn't enough, you can take the race online via the free-roaming Freeburn Online or more structured events. Believe it or not, Burnout Paradise Remastered also includes all of the DLC such as the Bikes Pack, Party Pack, Legendary Cars, Boost Specials, Toy Cars, Cops and Robbers, and last but not least, Big Surf Island. Considering you can spend hours having fun simply driving through the city by yourself, all of this content will certainly provide weeks of adrenaline-fueled racing entertainment.
Although there definitely isn't much negative to say about Burnout Paradise, there are a couple aspects that have always annoyed me. The first is that when you start playing, you'll rarely be certain when to turn to make it to the next checkpoint or finish line. Of course, you'll eventually become comfortable with the layout of the city and this won't be an issue then but at the start, it can be frustrating to accidentally turn early and end up driving in the wrong direction. I wish there was an option to toggle guide arrows for those just starting out. Finally, I love playing racing games via local multiplayer but the only mode that allows you to do so requires players to take turns. Don't get me wrong, it's great that the option exists but it's nowhere near as enjoyable as playing simultaneously.
Even if you already own and perhaps mastered Burnout Paradise, this Remastered version is worth getting just to experience the near-perfect racing thrills all over again on your current generation console. Thanks, EA for doing something very cool by releasing this.
- + Thrilling and varied arcade racing gameplay that's super-tight and just... wow!
- + Awesome graphics, sound, and music
- + Incredible amount of content
- - Wrong turns can be very frustrating before you're comfortable with the city's layout
- - No simultaneous local multiplayer