I'd make a John Milton joke but really, he's not that funny
I've always been a fan of the Burnout series. Something about fast cars, reckless driving, and ridiculous crashes has always been appealing, most likely because I can't get away with it in real life. Seeing as how I've just recently won the Demon PS3
from BahamutZero, I figured I needed something to play on it other than WarHawk and Ratchet and Clank.
Thus the task fell to Burnout Paradise to amuse me, and though it has its shortcomings it's done an admirable job so far. The Good:
The open road aspect allows me to do something I've always wanted in a Burnout game, to go anywhere I want. It never made sense to me that since Burnout is supposed to be about street racing, why I couldn't just take a shortcut down this alleyway or make a leap off a bridge to cut off some time. I was always limited by the impenetrable glowing arrows of doom and Paradise does away with them entirely. It really is fun to simply drive around Paradise City finding new jumps or new places to do crazy things and Criterion has done a good job of creating the city so that there aren't too many boring stretches of open road. That road you're looking at? Yeah, I can drive there.
The old Burnout events are still present, this time activated by stopping at any traffic light in the city and spinning your wheels. Certain events known as Burning Routes are only playable in certain cars, but by finishing the event you win yourself an upgraded version of that car. Road Rages are immensely fun this time because they don't take place on any set route. You are given three minutes to take down as many rival cars as you can with a target amount that you have to beat to clear the event. Each takedown adds 5 seconds to your remaining time so there are possibilities for ridiculous streaks as well.
Replacing the puzzle-like Crash Mode from earlier games is something called Showtime mode. After clearing 4 events you gain the ability to throw yourself into a crash at any time by hitting the shoulder buttons. Any cars around you are labeled with a dollar value, and you can press the boost button to bounce your car off the ground to try to steer it towards more untouched traffic. Hitting a bus adds to your score multiplier and when all is said and done it totals up your damage score based on cars hit, distance traveled, and any bus multipliers you may have earned. It doesn't require as much thinking and timing as previous crash modes, but hell if it isn't fun.
Online play is pretty much as seamless as advertised. When trying to join a random online game, the longest wait I've ever had to endure was about 3 seconds. Other times it was nearly instantaneous without even a loading screen coming up before other drivers miraculously appeared in Paradise City. Main events are disabled while playing online, but there are a large amount of challenges that drivers can cooperate or compete in, as well as the ability to set up races of your own. I haven't seen the Crash Cam in use yet, but since most people don't have a PlayStation Eye or XBox Live Vision Cam, I doubt it'll get that much use. Still, nothing is more satisfying than making a huge jump only to land on top of another player, scoring a vertical takedown. The Bad:
Paradise City is huge, and by most accounts this is a good thing. Lots of places to explore, different routes to take, etc. However, this works against it in certain places. For one, failing an event means that you have to drive all the way back to the starting point before you can try it again. This isn't too much of a problem given the speed you're driving at, but if your event started on the complete other side of the city it starts to become aggravating. Why there was no 'RETRY' option is beyond me, even if it would take away from the immersion of being free in a large city.
Secondly, Stunt Mode requires that you travel around the city looking for good places to rack up stunt combos doing jumps, barrel rolls, flat spins, etc. The only problem is that many times these events don't start near anything that would help, so there's a bit of wasted time just getting a combo going. Add to that the fact that it's hard to remember just where everything is in a city this large, and you might have trouble meeting the required score before time runs out. Many times I've been speeding down the road, only to realize I just passed a jump along the side that would have helped. The TLDR:
In the end, Burnout Paradise is a fair amount of fun especially if you get a kick out of making things crash into each other in glorious Hi-Def. Though there are some faults with the ease of retrying events and occasionally the sheer size of Paradise city works against it, there's really nothing there that becomes anything more than a minor annoyance. It's great fun either alone or in multiplayer and fans of the series should be fairly happy with it.
Both PS3 and 360 have downloadable demos if you'd like to give it a try.
If anyone else picks this up for PS3, send your PSN name along and perhaps we'll see each other in the city sometime.