Thankfully not every event involves you racing against computer-controller cars, a good chunk of the action involves you trying to slam into cars and avoid being taken down. Road Rage and Marked Man are by far the two most successful events found in this new Burnout game. Road Rage is no different from the past games; you drive around the streets of Paradise City trying to takedown as many enemy cars as you possibly can. Marked Man is a little different; you are given a finish line (which is always one of those eight locations) and it's your job to get there in one piece (there are black enemy cars that will do everything in their power to stop you in your tracks). In both cases the enemy cars move with you, so if you turn around or take a strange path you'll always find cars around you. These two event types manage to combine the most exhilarating and frustrating moments of Burnout together in one awesome package.
The other event types include a stunt run which is moderately enjoyable and something called Burning Route. Burning Route is a lot like a regular race, only you're trying to beat a pre-set time and you have to use a specific car per event. The good news is that when you beat a Burning Route you will get a brand new car (generally a suped-up version of the car you used), so it's definitely worth your time to go through and do all of the Burning Route events just to earn the new rides.
For the most part it doesn't matter which events you decide to take part in, the game will allow you to be as repetitive as you want to be. If all you want to do is race, then have at it. Same goes for the Marked Man, Road Rage and Stunt Run events. All Burnout Paradise asks of you is to beat a certain amount of events in order to upgrade your license. You start with nothing more than a beginner's license, but eventually you'll earn a C grade license, then B, then A and eventually you'll be sporting the super slick Burnout License. Once you upgrade your license all of the events you've completed are reset, allowing you to go back and select them all over again if that's what you choose. Eventually you're going to be forced to complete all of the events in order to earn the best license, and by that time you'll have run some of the events three or four times.
But while repetitive races would be the downfall of a lot of games, this is not a problem with Burnout Paradise. The trick to Burnout is that no matter what you're doing you're always having a good time. Even when you're jumping up and down yelling at your TV (which happens more often than I would like to admit) you're still having a great time. I don't know what it is, but Criterion seems to always have the right ingredients when it comes to making a fun game. Sometimes I wish Criterion could send that special ingredient to all of the other game developers so every game could be as good as Burnout Paradise.
But don't get too excited, long-time Burnout fans. While this game looks and feels a lot like older titles, there are a few things missing that are worth pointing out. For one thing there are no after touch takedowns. In fact, there is no after touch at all in Burnout Paradise. You also can't traffic check the way you could in Burnout Revenge (that is, fit the back of a car at full speed and send it flying). The good thing is that these gimmicks aren't missed, while the after touch is fun, it just wouldn't fit in with what Burnout Paradise is trying to do. I wouldn't be surprised if we started to see some of these missing elements added back into the series when the next Burnout is released.
Unfortunately there's one missing Burnout mainstay that is sorely missing - the crash mode. Now don't get me wrong, there is something of a crash mode alternative added to the game. This faux-crash mode is called Showtime and it's, well, it's not the crash mode ... and that really sucks. You can enter the Showtime mode any time; you just have to crash and then hit the left and right bumpers together. The object is to use your car to hit as many other vehicles as possible, creating a huge pile-up. To keep the crash going what you do is use your turbo to literally leap off of the ground and hit more cars, each time getting a little boost back. The problem with this mode is that it's a little too easy to keep it going forever and it's just not as exciting as the traditional crash mode was. I don't know if Criterion is planning on adding the traditional crash mode to this game (perhaps with downloadable content) or if they are going to use it in a future installment, but I'm going to be very depressed if we've seen the last of the traditional crash mode.
In total the single-player mode will run you around 30 hours ... and that's not including all of the extra stuff you can do while simply driving around. By the end of the game you'll be asked to race more than 200 events, which will certainly take you awhile. Not that you'll notice, I sat there glued to my TV for eight hours straight the first day I got it ... it wasn't until I got up that I realized just how long I had sat there having a good time. If that's not a good judge of the quality of the game then I don't know what is.
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