It’s always difficult to review remastered games, especially in the case of Burnout Paradise, a game which I put so much time into that I probably wore out a few controllers along the way. So what better way to review the remaster than to capture the excitement I had the first time around, by presenting you below my original review from way back in 2008, along with some new additions to bring you up to date with the changes made in EA’s first remaster.
So here we go….
A Blast from the Past
Picture the scene, you pop your brand new game in your console, eagerly await for the opening screen and then all of a sudden it springs to life, the soundtrack, which happens to be a Guns & Roses classic in the form of Paradise City kicks in and then all of a sudden you are in the mood for some action, which is just as well really because Burnout Paradise is certainly not short on that.
Burnout Paradise is the fifth game in this long-running series and perhaps one of the best yet. The biggest change in Burnout Paradise is the introduction of an open world for players to do whatever they desire, while not all the events are available from the beginning, once you unlock the game’s 75 cars you will be able to take part in all of them, it might just take you a while to do this that’s all.
The open world design in Burnout Paradise is fantastic, there are plenty of hidden areas to find as well as jumps, billboards (which you are required to crash through) and others great spots where you can take your car, most of these are great for racking up the points during stunt run challenges, which are accessed along with the other challenges by pulling up at any set of traffic lights and pushing L2 + R2.
Challenges are the main area of the game, these include Races (get from A to B faster than your opponents), Duals (where you race against one opponent), Road Rage (where you must take down a set number of opponents before the time runs out) and Stunt Runs (which basically comes down to you showing off by pulling outrageous maneuvers to beat the target score before the time runs out). One event we haven’t mentioned yet is the burning routes, these are tailor-made routes for specific cars, once you have unlocked the required car, simply drive to the point where you can take the challenge and then speed from point A to B within the time limit, do this successfully and you will get a brand new ride.
When you begin the game you are awarded a learner’s permit, completing a challenge awards you with a point on your license, complete enough of the challenges to reach the required total wins for your current grade and your license will be upgraded to the next level, with each upgrade you will be required to achieve more wins before your license can be upgraded again, this system works quite well and gives you something to aim towards, which is always nice as it stops the game from getting a bit tedious.
Instead of having a garage to store your cars in, Burnout Paradise provides you with a junkyard, you simply go here to pick which car you wish to use. Cars are acquired by achieving an upgrade on your license and occasionally by winning challenges (although in this case, you need to catch them first). When you win a challenge and a new car becomes unlocked, DJ Atomica (who is the game’s narrator in the form of a radio DJ) will announce this, it is then up to you to keep an eye out for this car driving around the streets and once you find it, take it down, do this successfully and the car is yours.
The cars within the game are generally split into three different categories, speed, aggression and stunt. Speed cars are fast and sporty and obviously, therefore, the best for races, stunt cars, however, are designed for jumps and tricks, whereas aggressive cars are more bulky and strong but not so fast and therefore ideal for taking down an opponent.
When you have acquired a new car and visit your junkyard to use it, you will find that it is never in the best state, however, this is easily solved as you can simply drive through an auto repair store and the car will then be as good as new. The auto repair isn’t the only drive-thru within the game though, others include a paint shop (if you would like your car to have an instant spray job) and a gas station (for a quick boost refill), the gas station especially can come in very handy during a race.
As well as the challenges, Burnout Paradise now also includes Showtime, this is started at any time by pressing the shoulder buttons, here you basically need to cause as much wreckage as possible by bouncing from one car to another, for each car you hit points are received as well as boost, multipliers are earned for hitting buses, although it tends to be random how many buses come along at once (a bit like in real life really). Depending on how good you are at showtime you could potentially continue your crash from one street to another, although the total score is only counted for the street you begin in. This is an extremely challenging and fun mode to play especially if you can keep your crash going for a long time.
The main menu in the game includes a map when you start out this will be pretty blank just waiting for you to explore the city. Every time you find a new landmark such as a drive-thru or an event, this will then be permanently marked on your map, making it easy for you to find them again. The map also comes in handy during races although it can be quite difficult to see where you are going to the mini-view which is presented in-game, therefore sometimes it is easier to press select during a race to enter the menu for a full view of the map, although it has to be said that this isn’t ideal.
One of the biggest selling points of Burnout Paradise is it’s online multiplayer. Up to seven other players take part in the online mode (which is named Freeburn Online), during play you can takedown opponents, take part in challenges (such as races etc) and also compete for the best times and most takedowns etc, each time you take down an opponent you are then greeted with their mugshot, which is great as you can see the frustration on their face at the moment you took them out. The online mode really couldn’t have been implemented any better, it seems to work flawlessly every time and only helps add to the value of the game.
What’s Old is New
So now you know all about the game. So what does this remaster bring to the table? Well, as with any remaster, it’s all about the upgrades. For one, Burnout Paradise Remastered brings with it all the previously released DLC, so this means you can swap out cars for motorbikes, explore Big Surf Island, have fun with cops and robbers in multiplayer and generally mess around in a much larger open world than you’d previously have access to with the standalone title. You will have access to legendary vehicles right from the off, which takes away some sense of progression, but you can always pace yourself, no matter how strong the temptation, to jump in a much more powerful beast and leave the opposition in your dust. Also, you’ll still need certain cars to unlock certain events, so it doesn’t take away from the game too much.
When you think of recent remasters, such as the amazing Shadow of the Colossus, Burnout Paradise Remastered is a little disappointing. The textures look fantastic, don’t get me wrong, but other than that it’s hard to figure out what else has changed. It certainly doesn’t have the polish of a Forza Horizon for instance, which takes away some of the excitement factor of this classic game finally releasing for PS4. Sure time has moved on, but the fact little effort seems to have been put in to bring Burnout Paradise up to speed is a little bit of a letdown.
What gets me is that when you are so used to playing on PS4 Pro with HDR you really notice when it’s not there. I knew this remaster wouldn’t be perfect, but there seems a real lack of colour, making the whole world, in general, feel quite dull. Saying that though, Burnout Paradise was a brilliant game back in the last gen and it still is now, so while the lack of upgrades, HDR especially, are sadly posted missing, for me at least, it doesn’t take away from the overall experience.
Burnout Paradise really is one of the greatest driving games ever made and apart from the few issues here and there, it is hard to know how the gameplay could be better. Sure there could have been more effort put into the remaster to really make it shine on PS4 Pro and have it feel like something completely new, but under the hood, it’s still the classic racer it was when it was released back in 2008 and that’s good enough for me.
*Final Score based on the game rather than the quality of the remaster.
** Code kindly provided by the publisher for review**