Burnout Paradise: The best arcade racer out there
As 2008 rolled around, the world was blessed by the release of Burnout Paradise, an arcade racing game for the Xbox 360, Playstation 3 and Windows.
In this article I will substantiate why this is my favourite racing game of all time and attempt to convince (totally not indoctrinate) you of the fact that EA and Criterion Games smashed it out the park with this title back in 2008. We'll go over the gameplay, visuals, fun factor and more. Have you played Burnout Paradise or any Burnout game? Let me know in the comments.
Flame decals make you go faster, right?
Let me preface this by saying that the Burnout series has never really strived for overly realistic racing or the appeal of serious sim racers - this franchise aims to provide a rip-roaring, gritty experience for more casual players. Don't think, however, that this makes it a bad game by any means. These games are designed to give the player the chance to enact all the roadrage they wish, perform endless death-defying stunts and completely total their car as much as they want.
Burnout Paradise takes place in the fictional Paradise City, a mish-mash of New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco and is teeming with huge ramps (that are somehow completely legal in this lawless city), billboards waiting to be ploughed through at unrealistically high speeds, frantic street races, the list really does go on.
That's all well and good - but what's the gameplay like? Let's find out:
A typical 'Road Rage' event in Paradise City.
Above is pictured one of my favourite event types in Burnout Paradise - Road Rage. In this event, you're challenged with taking out as many enemy cars as possible. The method is your choice - a shunt in the rear that sends the car swerving into a wall, scraping them against a wall or even forcing them to drive straight into a pedestrian car. Don't be alarmed: there's absolutely no possibility of vehicular manslaughter as there aren't any street-going citizens - just cars on the road.
Other in-game challenges include regular street races (typically from one end of the city to another) where shortcuts and stunts work in your favour, 'Marked Man', which designates you as a target for several heavily-armoured muscle cars that try to take you out before you reach a certain POI on the map, and stunt runs that task you with ramping up as many points as you can by doing jumps, drifts, etc.
As you can see, Burnout Paradise can offer oodles of automotive chaos. My personal favourite feature - however - is how you obtain new cars; you start off with a "basic" American muscle car:
As you can clearly see, it's a complete write-off. No denying that. There are drive-through garages that will instantly repair your car and return it to perfect condition. Also dotted around the city are petrol stations that will fill your boost/nitro metre on the fly and, lastly, paintshops that will respray your car a random colour if you're not pleased with the default look.
After completing a certain amount of events, your licence will upgrade, ranging from a learner's permit all the way to an Elite licence. Upon completing an event, there is a random chance that a new car will be available for you to drive; there is a catch, though. You can only get this car if you take it out on the road, which sounds easy right? Well, you've got to find it first. After you're told that this car is roaming around the city, it will randomly appear near you or even whizz past you - it's then your job to chase and total it. After this, the hunk of junk will be sent to the Junkyard, where you can limp it to a garage for repair.
As for handling, there are several categories of car that are available in Burnout Paradise: anything from sportscars to SUVs to suped-up sedans. My favourite of which is the Nakamura Ikura GT, pictured below:
Clearly modelled after some sort of Subaru WRX, this car demonstrates how (much like GTA V) Burnout Paradise cleverly avoids depicting exactly some real-life car brands or models.
Not really much to say for the soundtrack found in Burnout Paradise; the classic titular song Paradise City by Guns N' Roses serenades you as you navigate the home menu, which I personally will never tire of. Apart from that, the radio station you're tuned into in-game plays all the typical mid-2000s EA game songs you'd expect - almost reminiscent of the Skate series.
Considering this game came out in 2008 for consoles like the Xbox 360, the graphics were never going to be mind-bogglingly great, but they still hold up... sort of. Occasionally you'll be graced by a gorgeous scene such as this:
A lovely sunset glazes Paradise City.
A quick glance at that and you might think to yourself "Bloody hell, more fake GTA 6 leaks!", but I think the graphics look pretty alright for almost a 14 year old game.
All in all...
So, then, is this game a must-play? Absolutely. I recommend getting the original and not the remaster though as it doesn't offer much new content and the 'remastered' graphics look pretty much the same - plus I think there's a certain charm (like with many things) to the original version.
All in all, this game is my favourite ever arcade racing game; the neatly-wrapped package of nostalgic mid-2000s graphics, a fantastic soundtrack that pulls you in with the Guns N' Roses classic every time, blazingly quick auto action and enthralling events make this game one of EA and Criterion Games' masterpieces. I urge you to give it a go ;)
Thanks for reading.