Burnout Paradise came out 10 years ago. A full decade has passed since people entered Paradise City for the first time, serenaded by the Guns N’ Roses song of the same name. 10 years is a long time, and you probably don’t remember much about the game now. There haven’t been any fully fledged Burnout games since then, and these days we’re more used to the Forzas and Need for Speeds (Needs for Speed?) of the world.Except, when you load up the newly released Burnout Paradise Remastered, that opening riff plays, the cinematic intro begins, and you hear DJ Atomica coming through your speakers, it all comes flooding back.
Burnout Paradise Remastered brings back one of the best racing games of all time from 2008You suddenly remember the long, curved roads leading up to the wind farm, the sweeping turn by the country club, and the crazy shortcut you can take down by the docks. Burnout Paradise is back, and it’s just as good as you remember. For those who haven’t played it before, let’s start from the beginning. It’s an open world racing game, which these days is just par for the course. But what Burnout Paradise got so right, and what most games have failed to do since then, is how this city feels when you’re driving around it.Sure, the latest Need For Speed game looks amazing, and the urban environments in it are incredibly realistic. Paradise City by comparison is fairly small, and doesn’t really make ‘sense’ in places. You can drive the entire length of the place in a couple of minutes, and everything is packed in together.But the way it’s designed is second to none, and it’s in keeping with the overall design of the game. Paradise City is designed to keep you driving at speed, just like how Burnout Paradise is designed to keep you moving onto the next event.
The sense of speed Burnout Paradise gives you is just as good as ever as you drive aroundAlmost every intersection in the game has a separate event tied to it. All you have to do to start it is drive up to it and spin your wheels. Races will finish at one of eight locations in the city, tied to the compass points, no matter where you start them from.Stunt runs task you with performing jumps, boosts, drifts and other general dangerous driving techniques to rack up a high score.Some events will have you taking down as many of your opponents as possible by slamming them into walls, or evading enemies as you try and race to a specific location unscathed.When you finish an event, you’re simply left in the world where you finished, and you’re probably never more than a few seconds away from the next challenge. Winning events will level up your license, and when you get it to a specific level, all your completed events will reset, and you can do them again at a higher challenge. There’s plenty to do even if you’re not competing in an event though, and that takes us back to the city itself. There are 400 shortcuts to find scattered all over the place as you smash through yellow fences. There are dozens of billboards to smash through. There are parking garages that you can drive up and discover ridiculous jumps and paths across rooftops. There are AI drivers racing around that if you can chase down and smash up, their car will be added to your collection.
The visuals have been updated and it runs at a higher resolution, but parts still look datedThe progression and sense of gratification for doing all of these things is constant. It’s a shame then that EA has included all of the game’s DLC from the get go.Including the brand new island area and all of the cars that were added to the game after release is, of course, a good thing. But when they’re unlocked from the start, it’s advisable to refrain from going to the junkyard and selecting the fastest one straight away.Not only does it rob you of the challenge of eking out wins by putting you miles ahead of the pack, unless you’re a Paradise City expert, those top tier cars might actually be too much for you to start with.And you won’t want to go to the junkyard too often either, because its menus are painfully slow by modern standards. When you enter for the first time in a while, you have to sit through all of the cars you’ve unlocked recently.Scrolling through the list of cars and waiting for the animation of them to drop down before you can see them and select them takes longer than some of the races in the game. And when there are so many in there thanks to all of the DLC being included, it can take ages to find what you’re looking for.
All of the game’s downloadable content is included in the base game to select from the get goAnother shame is that the visuals haven’t been updated all that much in the past 10 years. It’s had some work done, edges look smoother and the resolution has been bumped up to 4K, but you can tell this is a game from the previous generation. That’s not to say it looks bad, just don’t go in expecting amazing particle effects and beautiful reflections. These small issues aside, and more importantly, the sense of speed Burnout Paradise gives you has returned. The cars, even the ones you start the game with, feel fast. Seriously fast. I found myself wincing on multiple occasions as I screamed past traffic and around corners, just knowing that a huge crash was probably only seconds away. A lot of games don’t give you this feeling anymore. The excellent multiplayer is back too. You can drop into a public session, and every couple of minutes a new event will start. Maybe you have to team up to perform donuts around a specific location. Maybe there’ll be a team based takedown fest. Maybe you’ll have an impromptu session of Marked Man with points for staying safe and scoring takedowns.
The way the game and the city are designed is to keep you moving on as quickly as possibleWhen you’re finished with multiplayer and want to go back to single player, you just drop out of the session. You don’t have to go through a bunch of menus and wait for a loading screen. You’re just back in Paradise City, where you just were, with no one else around.Beyond those excruciating junkyard menus, everything else in Burnout Paradise Remastered is there to keep you moving forward at speed. It’s so refreshing in an era that’s all about realism and the size of an open world rather than the racing experience which is supposed to be what makes these games fun. Burnout Paradise Remastered shows its age in some places, but when the game is this much fun to play, you’ll be driving too fast to notice.