STAFF REVIEW of Burnout Paradise (Xbox 360)

Sunday, February 3, 2008.
by Rick Wallace

Burnout Paradise Box art Take me down to the Paradise City, where the grass is green and the girls are pretty! But is the grass really greener in Paradise City than other installments of EA/Criterion?s Burnout Series? Well, I think its safe to say that most won?t be disappointed with the new direction that EA has taken the series.

The first time I fired up Burnout Paradise, I have to admit I was in love. I mean seriously, I was in heaven the minute the intro to Guns N?Roses ?Paradise City? began to play. From that moment I had high hopes and expectations for this game, and gladly I came to find out that I would not be disappointed. For the most part.

The games begins initially by introducing you to DJ Atomica, you on air personality that will guide you through the game as well as keep you entertained as your radio DJ. If you have an Xbox Live Vision Cam, be sure you have it connected from the initial start of the game. You?ll be asked to pose for your initial Driver?s Learner Permit. Say cheese! Of course, if you don?t have a camera then the game will just default to using your current gamerpic . You can always hook up a camera at a later time to update your license photo.

Once you have your Learner?s Permit, you?ll be tossed into your first ride and onto the streets of Paradise City. The junk yard is your garage of sorts where you will find all of the cars you have unlocked throughout your career progress. A total of 75 cars are available to unlock initially, with more on the way via marketplace without a doubt. The cars are grouped into the following classes: Stunt, Speed and Aggression. By the class name you can get the picture as to what a car is to be used for specifically, but if you find a favorite you can still use it as much as you like for any type of challenge.

Burnout Paradise boasts and open world style map that allows you to go basically anywhere you want and complete any challenges when you want. Once on the road, you?ll notice that each intersection is where you will find your challenges. To start a challenge you must hold the left and right triggers simultaneously, basically causing you to burnout. You will be able to compete in 120 different single player challenges that will help you unlock new cars and better your license status. There are 5 varieties of challenges: Race, Road Rage, Burning Route, Marked Man, and Stunt Run. Race challenges are just that. A race against other cars from point A to point B. You objective of course is to win the race using any route that gets you to the finish line quickest. Do not be afraid to use shortcuts and alternate routes to obtain the win. One of my favorite challenges is the Road Rage races, which many will recognize from Burnout Revenge. Your objective is to get the target number of Takedowns before time runs out or you total your car. The next type of challenge is called Burning Routes. These challenges are geared to each specific car, and can only be completed once you have the car in question unlocked. The Marked Man challenges pit you in your current car against 2 opponents who are there to take you out. You basically have to race from point A to point B without having your car totaled by your opponents. If you make it to the finish, you win the challenge. Finally, you have the Stunt Challenges. These challenges give you a specific score to obtain by getting air, doing barrel rolls, flatspins, crashing billboards, etc.

Not only do you have the 120 single player challenges, but you now have something called Road Rules. Road Rules are specific time and crash records set by you for every road in the game. You can turn your road rules on by pressing right on the dpad and then scrolling to Road Rules and setting it to either Time or Showtime. Time Road Rules are just a speed event in which you try to set the fastest time from the beginning of the street to the end. You must start these timed events at the either end of the street and stay on the street the entire time until you get to the end. Showtime Road Rules is a new concept brought into the Burnout Series. Many Burnout veterans are very fond of the crash challenges that had you smashing and crashing as many vehicles as you can for money totals. Well, with Showtime, you are still trying to obtain the highest crash total you can, but now you have full control of your crash. What? Well basically, you control your whole crash, where you go, what you hit, etc. When entering Showtime mode, you press the right and left bumper simultaneously, at which point your car will explode and begin rolling down the road. You can maneuver your car using the left and right thumbstick while gaining momentum by tapping the A button. Your Showtime will continue until you run out of boost. Your boost will increase as you hit a certain amount of cars, busses, and signs. You want to be sure to hit all the busses that you can as they add multipliers to your score. You will be able to set Road Rules both online and offline.

Another objective in the single player mode is to find hidden billboards, smashes and super jumps. Smashes are obtained by crashing through gates scattered throughout the city?s landscape and there are 400 of them for you to find. Some are obvious while others are not so obvious. Billboards are obtained by using your environment to smash through them. Only the Burnout Billboards are smashable and count towards your Billboard total. The super jumps are scattered throughout the map as well and are marked by barrels with flashing lights. Locate all the billboards, smashes and super jumps and you?ll unlock an achievement as well as a car for your junkyard.

Now of course most folks are most interested in the online play. While the single player has a lot of variety in modes of play and challenges, the online play is lacking quite a bit in this area. That?s not to say it isn?t fun, but for those looking for a lot of variety will not find it. You can only race online in ranked rooms. No road rage races, no crash competitions, no team events. Yes, to many this may be disappointing, but the online does contain 500 online challenges for you to complete with others. Basically, you can complete these challenges with friends or other online players. There are challenges for 2-8 players which can range in jumping over each other at a specific spot on the map, to meeting up with everyone at a specified place. Some challenges you will work together as a team to obtain while others require each player to complete the specific challenge. For instance, one challenge may be for your whole team to drift a total of 4,000 yards. Another maybe for each player in the challenge to drift a total of 2,000 yards. Again, it all depends on the challenge at hand. The host of the room starts each challenge, and only the challenges specified to the number of players in the room are available. So if you only have 2 people in your room, then you will only be able to complete 2 player challenges.

While online ?freeburning?, you can set Road Rule Times and Showtimes with your friends. You?ll actually be able to sit there and watch your friends crash down the road in their showtimes. Pretty fun to do. Any smashes, billboards or super jumps you obtain online also count towards your final total so you can work together with friends to find ones you may be having trouble with.

Overall the gameplay of Burnout Paradise is spot on and great fun. The lack of multiplayer modes will be a hinderance to some, but for most both online and offline will be sufficient and worth the purchase of the game. The graphics are stellar with wonderful crash sequences, and excellent car models. The map is vast and allows for hours of exploring and fun. Find your own routes through the city or create new ones using super jumps. And what?s better than burning through the city listening to some classic tunes as well as current rock on your Burnout radio. Burnout radio includes over 70 songs, from Guns N?Roses to original Burnout series musical scores. You?ll be completely satisfied with a purchase of this game for both the online and offline experience. And you can be sure that EA will most likely add more cars and possibly games modes via download content in the future.

Please consider adding more game modes for online player via DLC such as team events found in Burnout Revenge. If DLC is in the future, please add more challenges as well. I would love to see the map expanded as well, across the bridge under construction area preferably. Overall though, great job and looking forward to whats in store via DLC.

Overall: 9.3 / 10
Gameplay: 9.2 / 10
Visuals: 9.4 / 10
Sound: 9.3 / 10


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