After four of the most electric driving games in their back pocket, Criterion faced a difficult decision as to where to take their most prominent franchise. The next gen. consoles have opened up new possibilities, meaning the same old set-up would be been a lazy creation and missed opportunity for the fantastic racing series. But Criterion are better than that.
Start Burnout Paradise and you’ll thrown into Paradise City. Gone are menus, frivolous option and unnecessary complication, the racy streets are all the introduction you need. And from there on it’s simple; pull up to any traffic lights, rev up your engine and you’ll be launched into an event, with the type of challenge changing for every point across the city.
As ever, Burnout Paradise’s heart lies in full throttle street racing, and a good portion of the events have pit your skills against up to 7 other computer controlled cars. Flying off the line, you’ll be given a point on the map to navigate towards but with Paradise’s freeform layout, there are no invisible walls guiding an exact path. With only a minimal mini-map at the bottom of the HUD, until you’ve grasped an understanding of the vast map, you’ll need to rely on the limited route guider which runs along the top of the screen. Ultimately you’ll find yourself loading up the full screen map for most cross city jaunts.
With the fantastic junction crash mode again dropped, the wonderful RenderWare engine has been put to use for even more crushingly realistic collisions. Shunt your opponents into the traffic or yourself run into barriers and you’ll start a mini-cut scene of the car mangling up close.
Takedowns further take centre stage in Road Rage and Marked Man events. In the former you’ll need to take down as many opposing cars as possible in a predefined amount of time, and the latter, avoiding an onslaught from a swathe of aggressive enemies. Beyond the customary time trail for each road, the last event will provide the most fun. At a number of the lights, rev up your engines for a stunt run and you’ll need to rack up a combo of jumps and rolls, crashing through billboards and over special ramps for multipliers to build up mammoth scores. Your choice of car will make a big difference, with models now categorised into stunt, speed and power types, each holding advantages different events and the key to victory.
With sumptuous visuals, peerless online integration, endless replay value and more fun than ever before, Burnout Paradise races streaks ahead of the competition and is every bit as good as you’d hope on the next gen. Where to next? Who knows, but I’m sure looking forward to it.