Wednesday, March 5, 2024

Burnout: Paradise review. The Art of the Car Crash

By Tyler Barber

It's too bad most gamers don't use their console's USB camera, because my favorite extra in Burnout Paradise, Mugshots, doesn't get the mileage it deserves: your camera will take snapshots of your victorious moments while racing against your friends, or feral strangers, online. But the main draw here isn't flicking-off someone online, but the seamless integration of the single and multiplayer modes. With a tap of the d-pad you'll instantly hook up to race against, or just mess around with your online friends. Not just a great way to race either, there's plenty of stat keeping on each street that updates who's ahead of who for everything in Paradise City. In order to get all those people online, however, it takes a arcade approach to racing that may have some sim-gearheads wanting a bit more.

While the most talked about feature in Paradise may be the online stuff, offline there's still plenty of racer to go around. Each intersection acts as a starting point to one of several game modes. Of which, Marked Man, and Road Rage are definitely my favorite, and are noticeably absent from the online racing. Marked man is a one man race where your opponents aren't gunning for first place, but are trying to total your ride before you cross the finish line. In Road Rage there's no finish line, and your goal is to takedown a certain number of cars before times run out. These modes had me the most hype, jumping out of my seat with holy-shit phrases cheering the amount of destruction each crash rendered. And glorious these crashes are. Each crash looks straight out of a Hollywood action flick.

Racing across the open-city can be overwhelming at first. I lost several races where I was in the first-place position, but veering off the main path sent me into no-man's-land. Even in the losses though, Paradise's open world is forgiving enough that you'll almost never feel too slighted for losing a race. Mainly, I wish there was a quick retry option on the Burning Route races where you earn advanced models of each vehicle. Burning Route races are held at very specific locations, and trudging back all the way to the start when you lost near the finish is a chore.

Another side-step is the gimmicky Showtime mode that replaces the popular Crash Mode of previous Burnouts. Before you actually felt like you caused this massive domino-like-collision, whereas now you hop along the road like a fish-out-of-water aiming for oncoming traffic. With luck, we'll get to download the classic Crash Mode in the near future.

Burnout Paradise does an excellent job at ushering the arcade racer into the realm of next-gen gameplay. The forward-thinking online integration alone could have a ripple effect on other genres' multiplayer plans. Even if you're not into racing games much, give Burnout Paradise a try, if just for the crashes. My biggest challenge with Burnout Paradise, though, is prying my friends from their Call of Duty 4 multiplayer addiction to join me online.

Final Grade: A-


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