Burnout Paradise


posted 3/9/2009 by Dave Gamble
other articles by Dave Gamble
One Page Platforms: PC
While those unstructured scores are easy to do, they do have a down side. They don't do anything to improve your standing within the game. You increase your standing by upgrading your driver's license, and these upgrades come from winning events. The trigger for an event is available at every intersection. There are five types of events, ranging from head-to-head racing between two points in the city to to stunt runs. The head-to-head races require two things: a fairly decent knowledge of the city, and the ability to wreck the other cars before they wreck you. You have to know your way around the city because there are multiple routes between any two points in the city. Choose the slower route, or even worse, get lost, and you will lose the race. The other drivers are in it to win it, and they will demonstrate this by trying to knock you out of the race, especially in a Road Rage event where crashing you is their only goal. It's a fast-paced free-for-all style of racing, and the sense of speed you get from the scenery flying by just adds to the pulse-pounding action. And to add even more excitement to the events, an online mode is available to let you share the destruction with other live players.

If your car gets beat up by the other drivers or collisions with immovable objects, you can drive though a fix-it shop for instant repairs. The cars have a boost system similar to the NOX systems in those Fast and Furious cars too, and there are drive-thru fuel stations that you can use to, well, boost your boost. You can also improve your boost organically by using the abilities of the type of car your are driving. For example, you can increase the boost in an Aggression Class car by driving the way that I normally do on my morning commute. For a Speed Class car, simply driving as fast as possible will increase the boost. The boost can come in very handy towards the end of a race if you need an edge to get passed the last few cars. There are no points for finishing second, so you do whatever it takes to get yourself into first.

The graphics are very sharp and well worth taking the time to slow down now and then to just drive around sight seeing. The landscapes vary from a dense downtown area to an abandoned airport to a lakeside drive to twisting roads meandering through the local hilly area. The time of day also changes as you're driving around, and you will find that driving at night adds a whole new dimension. As you work your way through the various cars that can be unlocked, you will find that each car behaves differently, based on its weight, front wheel drive vs. rear wheel drive, and handling abilities. Because the cars behave differently, you will learn to choose the right car for the driving conditions. A big, heavy car will be painful to drive in the twisty, hilly areas of town, but work well in on the highways. For the tight quarters downtown, you might prefer a light front wheel drive import. The airport is the place to go for stunts, and car choice will be important for that as well. The cars get unlocked fairly quickly, so you will have ample opportunity to try them all. While I can't see myself ever getting bored with my fleet of cars, if it were to happen I could start over by collecting motorcycles! Yes, you can have the same crazy adventures on motorcycles. Absent the awesomely rendered crash sequences, though, which is kind of a shame. I had hoped to decapitate a rider or two, but that aspect was sadly left out of the game.

While I tend to prefer the more realistic types of racing games, I found Burnout Paradise to be a top-notch racing experience. No one will confuse it with the more sophisticated games like EA's Nascar series, but it offers a completely new (to me) racing experience where there are no rules, no consequences for driving like a complete lunatic, and hours of pure adrenaline pumping fun. And in this, one out of one teenage daughters surveyed totally agree: EA Games Burnout Paradise is sick-nasty!

Burnout Paradise is like a huge sandbox in which the type-A driver is able to live out every misanthropic fantasy ever imagined during those frustrating hours driving to and from work. The graphics are splendid and the driving action is addictive. Pick this one up ASAP!

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