It’s strange that the best racing game to come out of Electronic Arts in the last decade is also the last really good racing game that they released. After a string of middling racing games in the name of Need for Speed, EA has remastered one of the best in their catalogue. Burnout Paradise came out on Xbox 360 and Playstation 3 exactly 10 years ago in 2008. Which was when Criterion was bought by Electronic Arts and the team behind Need for Speed’s greatest competitor was made to work on the Need for Speed franchise, letting everyone’s favourite Burnout game languish. Finally, years later, your prayers have been answered; it’s a new Burnout game, and it’s the best of the series, completely remastered. Which oddly, seems like it was destined for this generation of consoles.
- Developers: Criterion Games, Stellar Entertainment Software
- Publisher: Electronic Arts
- Price: ₹2,999 for PlayStation 4 and Xbox One only on Amazon
What’s it about?
While Gran Turismo and Forza Motorsport have always been a simulation and stiff-upper-lip serious racing for gear heads, Need for Speed and Forza Horizon sit somewhere in the middle, with arcade-like racing and a little bit of simulation. The Burnout series have firmly been on the other end of the spectrum, giving you arcade-style racing, but taking it up one notch higher, and rewarding you for aggression. Crashing into other vehicles, driving on the wrong side of the road, doing impossible stunts and generally creating havoc has always been the main crux of Burnout Paradise.
Paradise City is the first Burnout game that brought the series into an open-world scenario. Inspired by the Guns and Roses song of the same name, which also plays pretty much a lot on the title screen and in the game, Paradise City is also an ironic name for the setting of a violent racing game like Burnout. There’s no story to speak of; you just start in a trash heap of a car and then you participate in several race events to get yourself better and better rides. That’s all there is to it, and that’s all we need — some good, old-fashioned crash, boom and bang.
How does it play?
Ask anyone about Burnout and the first thing they’ll mention are the crashes. While wrecking cars at 120mph into walls and oncoming traffic are generally unpleasant experiences in real life, the Burnout series crashes are legendary, and with every subsequent title release, the crashes have got more and more detailed. From simple blocks and polygons to Burnout Paradise’s crushing, rending metal. As you see parts fly off the car, if you’re a trained mechanic, you can probably name some of them. An entire physics engine is devoted to making cars crash right. All of it in painful slow motion. So much so that it could be termed as crash metal porn.
Burnout Paradise’s open world is a buffet of ‘car’nage. It’s a thrill to just drive as fast as you can; in fact, the game encourages you to keep that momentum going — rewarding you with points as well as refuelling your boost as you dodge oncoming traffic at high speeds. You can stop at any traffic light and jump into a variety of race styles. From Road Rage, where you go all out and take down other cars in spectacular crashes, to special Stunt events and Showtime, which is a ‘Crash’-like mode. Except that it’s not ‘Crash’ — which is a really fun puzzle-like game, where you have to create the biggest pileup — which was the hallmark of previous games, and is sadly still missing from Burnout Paradise. Damage is also handled differently in the game, letting you drive through repair shops to fully repair your car, which deteriorates over time. I forgot how annoying it was to roam around looking for repair or refuelling stations for boost.
On current generation consoles, it’s like Burnout Paradise has come home. The game looks incredible in higher resolutions and runs at a buttery smooth 60fps. The game does look a bit dated when it comes to the menus and other quality-of-life enhancements we expect from games today. One small example is the right thumbstick camera control. Which in games today can be used to pan the camera around slightly to peek right or left. In Paradise, it swoops the camera suddenly to show you the rear view. It takes a while to get used to this. The crashes, though, benefit from the upped graphical fidelity, as some of the impacts are pure art. If you even nudge an enemy car the wrong way, it will flip over and deteriorate into pieces, or wrap convincingly around a pillar or into the divider.
There’s a staggering amount of cars and content in the game. From the get-go itself, if you look through your garage, you can spot the Burnout Paradise version of DeLorean, the Back to the Future car. That one actually lets you fold up your wheels and go into hover mode. Playing it once more now, made me want to go out and earnestly collect all those make-believe cars, inspired from muscle to sports to pickups. There’s even bikes in there, but somehow, Burnout has always been about cars for me. When you’re bored with the offline play, you can always go online and compete with friends.
Should you get it?
If you want to dive into a lean, mean racing machine, then Burnout Paradise is one of the best investments. If you need some more convincing, think of the game as a trip to the spa — where you let all that stress go by driving really fast, and making other people crash and burn, while you laugh maniacally all the way to a better, brighter week.