Burnout Paradise Review (360)
Criterion Games brings Burnout to the next generation with a fun, though slightly repetitive arcade racing title
With Burnout series, the arcade racing genre has been going strong for many years and gaining many new fans along the way. The next closest thing that comes to mind is Flatout, and that series can be fun, in an over-the-top kind of way, but the shaky racing mechanics and repetitive tracks often drag it down. The series is about arcade racing from start to the finish line, with the selling point of emphasizing as many frantic, multi-car crashes as possible. It is pure arcade fun with great sense of speed and satisfaction of slamming your opponents into walls to watch them fly many feet in the air as you drive away. With Burnout Paradise, the fans of the series and new players alike can finally experience this definitive arcade game in its next-generation form, and it’s well worth checking out.
In Paradise, you are given a free city to roam in, something along the lines of recent Need for Speed games. You start out with a low-stats car, and as you win races you will unlock better cars – there is no car modification in Paradise, the most you can do is change the paint by visiting your garage or one of the paint shops. Paradise is purely a performance-based game, meaning there is no money system in place and the only way to progress and win better cars is to race and win. All cars are fairly imaginative; however it’s disappointing that there are no licensed cars at all in the game. The inspiration can be clearly seen, though, so if you forget everything for a second, many cars will appear as licensed and well-designed. Each car has 3 stats: Speed, Boost and Strength. They are self-explanatory. The more Speed levels you have, the faster your car will go, the more boost you have – the longer you’ll be able to keep your nitro going; the strength allows you to take and give more damage before crashing. A certain balance of these 3 stats will put your cars into one of three categories – Race cars, Stunt cars and Demolition cars. Race cars usually have a good speed/boost rating and their nitro has a special tweak to it – you must wait a certain time before your boost is ready, but once you activate it and don’t let go, it will continuously refill and can get you going fast past the opposition. Stunt cars have a good boost/strength rating, and are the best choice for performing stunts off rooftops. The nitro for stunt cars refills as you do jumps and takedowns, and has an incremental multiplier if you can keep your stunts linking up. The Demolition cars usually have a high strength stat, and are best used for Marked Man event types.
Speaking of events, there are tons of them. However, they also present one of the game’s worst flaws – grinding. Yes, you read correctly, Burnout Paradise is one of the few racing games where you actually feel like you are grinding through races just to get your next car or license upgrade. The big reason why the game feels so repetitive at times (even more so than circuit racing games) is because all races can be repeated for progress points (used to upgrade your license) at each level. So, you do about 5-10 races for your lower level driving license, you get your upgrade, and now you have to do 15-20 races for the next level. The issue is, all the races you’ve done for your first 5-10 are now refreshed, so you can race them again and they will now count towards the new 15-20 that you need to do. It’s tedious and kind of goes against the whole idea of exploration if you can grind the same 10-20 races around your garage, never really venturing out. That’s not to say there aren’t many other reasons to explore.
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