Take me down
Burnout Paradise: it’s the racing game that every publisher, including EA with its countless Need for Speed iterations, has tried to emulate since 2008.
It’s such a simple thing, drop players into a rich sandbox and let them have at it — but so many teams have attempted to pack in useless map icons and missions so densely that subsequent projects started to devolve into a cookie-cutter open world formula.
Burnout Paradise Remastered brings us back to a simpler time, even if bringing out a widely available copy of the original would have accomplished that goal just fine.
Burnout Paradise Remastered (PC, PS4, Xbox One [reviewed with an Xbox One X])
Developer: Criterion Games, Stellar Entertainment
Publisher: Electronic Arts
Released: March 16, 2018
Burnout Paradise has a refreshing sense of freedom, even today. There’s no Fast & Furious family storyline, nor are there on-foot sections or stringent campaigns. You have one mission at the start — repair your car — and then you can do whatever you feel like. Looking for random collectibles (destroyables, really), enter races, or takedown unsuspecting ruffians, it’s your choice.
This sense of aimlessness has been a point of contention for roughly a decade. One could argue that rather than provide pinpoint precise map design Criterion instead aimed to craft an open world adventure first, and a racing game second. When you’re crushing everything in sight while listening to Alice in Chains it’s a rush. When all of those fun new jumps aren’t so new anymore, it can take a lot out of you.
I can get over that feeling of emptiness because of how much Paradise constantly exhumes style. Driving through a shop and repairing your car at full speed is really slick. It’s an arcade racer with a simulator feel: a controversial direction after so many fans had lovingly played “true” iterations like Revenge until their figurative tapes popped. It’s the age-old sports/racing argument, one that plagued Tony Hawk when the series moved from single micro-levels into macrocosmic maps from 4 on. What do I prefer? My answer is always the same: “it depends on the game.”
But this Remaster, despite its sleek framerate, feels old. That’s not necessarily a bad thing as I’m playing Atari and NES-era games week-to-week, but I have a lingering notion that EA and company could have done a little more here to clean up some of the game’s rough spots and further enhance gameplay-centric visuals like better draw distances and the like. For reference my tests were with the Xbox One X at 4K60FPS (a milestone the PS4 Pro can achieve), though regular Xbox and PS4 owners will have to settle for 1080p60.
For its faults and lack of polish, Remastered includes all of the previous DLCs, most notably the Burnout Bikes, Cops and Robbers, and Big Surf Island packs. The latter, my favorite of the bunch, is still accessible from the very start of the game and adds an entirely unique area into the mix. Plopping all the DLC upfront also augments the entire concept of player choice, almost like you’re continuing a familiar save file from 10 years back.
Burnout Paradise Remastered isn’t really worth grabbing if you already have the original. Hell, said original is even backward compatible on the Xbox One right now. Without any prior experience though I would absolutely give Paradise City a spin — even with its faults, it’s still one of the most memorable and mild open worlds in existence.
[This review is based on a retail version of the game provided by the publisher.]