by Chris Scott
reviewed on PS3
The furthest thing from gamers’ minds when they think of racing games is the term “open-world gameplay”. That term is usually reserved for games like Grand Theft Auto and its knock-offs. Although the Midnight Club series has in the past been quite successful with its own brand of street racing in an “open-world environment”. Developer Criterion Games has taken the best ideas of the Midnight Club series, mixed them with their own Burnout franchise and have come up with a sprawling fictional city filled with high speed thrills and vehicular destruction like you have never seen. Say hello to Burnout: Paradise.
Welcome to the Jungle
Starting out in Burnout: Paradise is as easy as pressing start on your controller because the moment the game boots up, you are ready to go. You will start at a junk yard and be given a beat up muscle car to toy around with. Don’t worry though; you won’t have to drive it for too long as progression in the game is as easy as pulling up to any traffic light in the game and hitting the two trigger buttons on your controller to launch the event. But before you start burning rubber you might want to get your hunk of junk fixed to at least make it a little more road worthy.
To fix your car you just have to pull through a repair shop’s drive. It can be done at any time, even during a race or other event, with no loss of speed. Once you are fixed up, it’s time to start in Paradise City. Criterion has done a fantastic job of creating a large sprawling city and at first, especially if you are a long-time player of the Burnout series, you may feel somewhat unsure of what to do with your newfound freedom. Spending some time wheeling around the great expanse of Paradise locating Super Jumps, hidden shortcuts and billboards (to be smashed) might be a good way to start.
Events in Burnout: Paradise are a varied lot. There is the standard race from point A to point B. There are “Stunt Runs” where you attempt to chain together insane jumps and other stunts while aiming for a point total. There are “Marked Man” events where you must get from point A to point B all the while trying to avoid a hit squad of cars chasing after you. There are “Road Rage” events where your objective is to take down a set number of other racers before either time expires or they destroy you. And then there are “Burning Route” events where only a specific car can partake and you must get from point A to point B before time expires.
It’s So Easy
All the events save for the “Burning Routes” can be done with any car but having the right car for an event could be the difference between the sweet taste of victory and the bitter taste of defeat. As you win more and more events you will begin to amass a junk yard full of speedy steel. They are classed into three categories for your easy perusal: speed, stunt and aggression class.
As I said earlier, to get some new wheels you will need to race in the events scattered throughout the city. There is no currency in Burnout: Paradise so you will never buy a new car. Instead your garage is linked to your progression in the game. You will start off with a Learner’s Permit and winning events will upgrade your license and grant you new rides, it is as easy as that. Sometimes those rides are given to you, other times you will be told about a new exotic car cruising around the streets of Paradise and it is on you to wreck that car to add it to your collection. Another way to build up your garage is to take your cars to their specially marked “Burning Route” events; once you have won that event you will be given an upgraded version of the “Burning Route” car. Completing the “Burning Route” events can quickly upgrade your collection of vehicles.
Burnout: Paradise is an arcade racer at heart and if you can figure out the car classes and how to use them to your best advantage in the different events you will have little problem getting the hang of the game. Criterion has done a great job making a deep game so easily approachable for all sorts of gamers.
No Pros and Cons at this time