Review: Burnout Paradise (Regained)

This post is more than 2 years old.

Way back in February I did a quick review Burnout Paradise, the first real Burnout for the next gen systems. I talked about how disappointing the races were due to the open sandbox approach of the game. Burnout has always been about speed, and once you do something to make you want to slow down, you lose something what makes Burnout fun. The further lack of a reset for races just made me want to give up - which I did.

Criterion, the makes of Burnout, did something interesting though. Over the past year they have been working on updates to the game. This is not unusual. One of the coolest features of the current generation of game consoles is that games can be updated with bug fixes and new features. For updates that are purely feature-related, sometimes there will be a cost involved. Crackdown did this (which I still say is one of the best games I've every played, far more fun than Halo 3 was), but also released a smaller, free update as well, which was nice.

Criterion went nuts though. They have already added major features to the game, but this week they released the bike pack.

For the first time in a Burnout game, you get to ride on a motorcycle. How well does it work? Wow. The illusion of incredible speed that has always been a hallmark of Burnout games is cranked up to 11. Even the sound is cooler. Racing down the street and then shooting into a tunnel will create an incredible sound as your bike's engine echos throughout the tunnel. Jumps, which were fun in a car, are ten times better (and a bit more scary) on the bikes.

Oh - and they also added a day/time cycle and weather. Oh - and all of this is a) on top of big earlier updates and b) 100% free. The day/night cycle is more than a simple visual trick as available races changes throughout the day and traffic patterns change when the sun goes down. Weather is not as cool as it could be. It's mainly just fog and mist and random times, not rain as I had expected, but it still adds something to the game.

Of course, one of the big questions folks had about this update is how crashes would be handled. Burnout has great crashes, but the cars might as well be sentient creatures as you never see any human carnage. When you crash your bike, you will not see the driver thrown a thousand feet to their death. You will see the bike crash out nicely, but not the driver. This is fine by me. The crashes are still pretty darn fun, especially since you can imagine a heck of lot worse than Criterion could have shown anyway.

Another cool feature of the XBox 360 (and I'm not sure if the PS3 does this but I'm sure it does) is how it allows for subtle online features that aren't truly multiplayer. What do I mean by that? Well I'm not a huge online gamer. I tend to feel like if I get online and enter a race, and then real life intrudes, that I'll feel guilty about leaving a game midway through. But multiplayer is only one way the game uses online. I still remember playing Project Gotham Racing back when the XBox360 was first released. As I was waiting for some race, I saw leaderboards and real time stats. Even if you don't actively play with others, you still feel like you are part of a community.

So imagine this. I'm racing around, enjoying my new motorcycle, when I suddenly get a message saying that Brian Rinaldi had just beat my time on a street. While I was laughing with enjoyment at how cool that was, Brian did it again. And again. So now I hate Brian and will be forced to hunt him down and kill him. Or at least try to beat his records. Moving to multiplayer seems to be quite easy now as well. You can hit right on your controller, find your online friends, and send an invite. (I tried this with Brian but he said it was his son playing. I call chicken!)

Apparently the updates will continue. If I've read right, the next update will add a whole new island to the game. Considering the fact that I'm still finding parts of Paradise City I had not seen before, I can't wait for the world to get even larger. I still say they should consider adding a reset to races. But I really want to give Criterion credit for what they have given to gamers here. They have easily earned my money for whatever comes next from them.

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About Raymond Camden

Raymond is a senior developer evangelist for Adobe. He focuses on document services, JavaScript, and enterprise cat demos. If you like this article, please consider visiting my Amazon Wishlist or donating via PayPal to show your support. You can even buy me a coffee!

Lafayette, LA

Archived Comments

Comment 1 by Tomas Fjetland posted on 9/22/2008 at 3:26 AM

Thanks for the update. Might be something I need to try on my PS3.

"I tried this with Brian but he said it was his son playing. I call chicken!"

Out of curiosity, did you get a reply like "I'm not online, this is my son answering"? Then I'd be suspicious ;) I actually got something similar from a friend one time...

Comment 2 by Alfio Raymond posted on 9/22/2008 at 5:00 AM

OMG, I got to pick that game up. Been playing burnout revenge since it came out on xbox 360 and totally love it. Thanks for the update.

Comment 3 by Brian Rinaldi posted on 9/22/2008 at 5:26 AM

LOL!!! I didn't know that your score was being beaten but it was indeed my son who just turned 6 who was kicking your butt! He also loves to do the one where you roll around after a crash trying to smash as much stuff as possible and he has had a few times where I couldn't believe his score (I can't beat him). I love that game and so does he. One of these days I will race you online, but I don't promise to be as good at it as my son.

Comment 4 by Brian Rinaldi posted on 9/22/2008 at 5:28 AM

@Tomas - I took the control from my son and replied since Ray pinged twice and I didn't want him to take offense. I don't think my 6 yr old even knows the games function online.

Comment 5 by Dave DuPlantis posted on 9/22/2008 at 4:12 PM

I kind of miss some of the features that Revenge had, although the crashing now is more fun (because you can string the crash so much farther). The only real complaints I had were that a) you can't restart a race easily and b) I'm not very good. :)

I'm also not an online competitor - I rarely get any online achievements just because I really don't care to be crushed by people I don't know - and I do like the friends-list high score feature ...

I rented this through GameFly, but it was closer to release, before the updates came out. I haven't rented it since, although I should probably put it back on my list. I don't know how much playing time it will get now that Rock Band 2 is here ...

Comment 6 by John Wise posted on 9/22/2008 at 6:57 PM

I bought a pre-rented copy from GameFly for just under $20 a couple months back. I just checked & the 360 version's still available for about the same price. PS3 version's a couple bucks more.

I'm amazed that Criterion's been willing & able to release so much post-release add-on content, especially when you consider that they're owned by EA, one of the worst content gougers around (paying to unlock content already on the disc is a pet peeve of mine).

I'm also looking forward to WipEout HD being released on PSN later this week. I'll be curious to see if/when they'll add new content in the future; if they do, I'm not counting on it being free.

Comment 7 by Andy Sandefer posted on 9/22/2008 at 10:21 PM

You need to review The Force Unleashed. In my opinion it is easily one of the best Star Wars games ever created. I'm on the last stage right now.

Comment 8 by Raymond Camden posted on 9/22/2008 at 10:23 PM

Gary Funk bought me FU from my wishlist. It _just_ arrived today. I've been suffering with some bad headaches lately (really bad), so I'm not sure I'll play tonight - but I'll try to soon. It will definitely be the next game I review though. I loved the demo (although I found the 'hit this button quick/DDR' part a bit dumb.

Comment 9 by Brian Rinaldi posted on 9/22/2008 at 10:36 PM

@Andy @Ray - SW:FU is a lot of fun but its totally a God of War clone (thus the stupid push this button at the right time challenges...which so far have been pretty easy and totally unnecessary). I have also had camera issues in a number of places...some that made portions nearly unplayable (and usually ended in me being killed somewhere offscreen out of view of the camera). The environments and story are top-notch and their is nothing more fun than flinging a Storm Trooper with your force powers. (not to write your review for you Ray ;)

Comment 10 by Raymond Camden posted on 9/22/2008 at 10:40 PM

My only concern is this. When I played Jedi Knight (way back when I did PC games), I found that I could win every single fight by simply picking up a trooper and dropping them off a cliff. Being a FPS, there were quite a few cliffs. This was fun at first, then quickly made the game a bit boring. "Run in room. Pick up. Drop. Repeat. Leave room." I hope TFU isn't that easy. ;) I tried it in the demo and it wasn't quite so simple.

As for the story - I got TFU art book, and what I saw amazed me. So much so that I didn't actually read anything so I wouldn't spoil myself.

Comment 11 by Andy Sandefer posted on 9/22/2008 at 10:54 PM

I played that game quite a bit too (that was before I abandonned the Alienware in favor of consoles). Anyway, this game is a bit different. You're pretty much getting bombarded all of the time so if you want to try to do the force grip to long way down technique on everyone then you'll get killed very quickly as all of the other enemies will rush you, missle fire, or sniper you to death while you're doing the grab/drop on everyone. Don't worry - you'll like this game - a lot.
You are wrong - frying people (just like the nasty-mean emperor) is the best kill! LOL - not to mention the almost 3 dozen lightsaber/force trick combos you can learn.

Comment 12 by Michael van Leest posted on 9/26/2008 at 12:16 PM

Hi Ray,

I love this game! I played it almost non-stop to the end when I got the game begin '08 for the PS3. The bike pack is cool, but I can't wait to race on the island. If you check the criterion website, you can see a few screen shots of the new island and some videos about developing the game, pretty cool stuff!