The Burnout series has long been a favourite of all gamers, regardless of console. The fast cars, crazy crashes and sheer feeling of speed attracted more and more players, and although sales may have dipped slightly after the release of the previous title (Burnout: Dominator), it is back with a vengeance in Burnout Paradise.
The version I'm reviewing is the Ultimate Box release for PS3. It differs slightly from the original release in that it comes with the Burnout Bikes add on and many previous updates pre-installed, saving you potentially hours of tedious downloading. There have also been some slight gameplay tweaks based on player feedback to make the game a tad easier for new players.
We'll start with the single-player, and more importantly, the game environment. It's huge! You play in fictional Paradise City, complete with the song by Guns N' Roses of the same name. This is the first Burnout title to have a free roaming environment and the team at Criterion have pulled it off in spectacular fashion. There are over 60 unique roads and streets, each with their own name, best on and offline times to be broken and showtime (crash) records. There are 400 bright yellow gates to smash through leading to secret areas and shortcuts, and 120 Burnout billboards for you to smash through.
The race events have always been the core part of any Burnout game and it is no different in Paradise. They range from short dashes to huge, cross-map marathons, in which consistency is more important than outright speed. Also included are the addictive Road Rage events, Marked Man, single-car Burning Routes and new Stunt Runs.
Just when you thought Criterion couldn't do any better than the offline play. You press the unassuming little right button on the D-Pad to enter onine mode and the fun just gets better and better. There are Freeburn events for up to 8 people, in which the host randomly selects challenges for the rest of the players to beat. It is a very free-flowing system and works brilliantly, especially with a few friends. There are also online versions of all the race events listed above, bar Burning Route.
The only very very miniscule flaw in this otherwise perfect game is the display. On smaller older standard definition TVs, there is sometimes too much happening and at too fast a speed to cope with. Often I have crashed into a car simply because I didn;t see it until the last second due to some glare.
All things considered, this is an absolutely magnificent game and is a must-buy for fans of the series and newcomers alike.