Burnout: Paradise is all about speed and crashing. The hallmarks of this game series have always been speed and crashing, but this time around they have rebuilt the graphical and physics engines from the ground up providing an incredibly fun gaming experience.
I have not been a big fan of the other Burnout games. They never really set themselves apart from other racing games that they shared shelf space with in my mind. They were fun, but they didn't hold my attention for too long... to be fair, I don't generally enjoy any racing game, so this lack of enthusiasm is normal for me.
However, Burnout: Paradise converted me. How? Why? Well, there were a few things:
1. This is not a "racing" game where you simply go from one race track to another racing an increasingly more difficult set of generic computer controlled cars. The game sets you loose into a fully rendered "sandbox" city where you can drive anywhere. The city is amazingly detailed with storefronts, a downtown area, a suburban main street, windy mountain roads, traffic, stop signs, stop lights, train tracks, bill boards, and many hidden areas.
2. The graphics are beautiful, not only in the city and the minute details (amazing texture work here), but also on the cars themselves. The documentation leads you to believe there are 75 cars to attain, but in truth there are 80 (some are hidden).
3. If you don't want to race you don't have to. You can just drive around and run into things if you want to. When you are read yo to race, run a stunt challenge, etc. all you have to do is pull up to a stop light. There is a challenge at each intersection waiting for you to give the word.
4. There is a great variety in the cars. Some are built for speed. Other are built for stunts or aggression. All of them are fast, and the sensation of speed is sensational (drive through a downtown area in a formula 1 racer and you will see what I mean).
5. The crash animations. Wow. When you get into a wreck the game seamlessly goes into a semi-slo-mo crash sequence where the camera moves to capture the hood/fender/quarter-panel realistically crumpling, windows shattering, wheels falling off, before going back into normal speed to see the car roll end over end down the freeway. This is hard to describe as it must be seen to be believed. Awesome stuff.
This game offers a lot of replay value. My daughter and I love to play just to see who can go the fastest the longest without wrecking. Together we have put more than 100 hours onto the game and we still enjoy it.
This game also offers a lot of fun online play. You can play with up to 8 people online in custom or prebuilt challenges, or you can all just drive around in the city together.
There a few drawbacks/frustrations that come with the game:
1. If you don't win a race/challenge there is not an easy way to immediately retry it. You have to turn the car around and drive back to the intersection that the race started from. It would have been really nice if they had built in a "retry" option.
2. Sometimes it is hard to connect to the Burnout servers. Hopefully this is just growing pains as they adjust for the online presence they are getting.
3. There have been times where the online bit becomes a little laggy if more than 5 or 6 folks are in the map at the same time. This is probably more due the host connection, but it is a pain, so I wanted to mention it.
Overall, this is a great fun game. If you have an XBox 360 I highly recommend checking it out. If you don't want to drop the change to get the full version yet, then i recommend downloading the demo off XBL Marketplace. If this review doesn't convince you, the demo will!