Burnout Paradise Review
The first thing that I need to get off of my chest is that I miss crash mode. I miss dissecting the traffic pattern at an intersection, looking for just the right angle and speed that will certainly set off a chain reaction of glorious mayhem, and then watching it all unfold in an inevitably unexpected way. In fact, I'd be perfectly happy to see a Burnout game that featured the old crash mode exclusively. That being said let's take a moment of silence to lament the absence of crash mode in Burnout Paradise … … … Thank you. Now I can move on and look at what is in Burnout Paradise, and as much as I miss crash mode I have to admit that Paradise is a heck of a lot of fun to play.
Burnout Paradise owes more than a little inspiration to Test Drive Unlimited in that it offers an open world driving experience. Paradise City is a large metropolis that sits between the mountains and the coast and you are free to drive anywhere you'd like at any time. Downtown streets, elevated freeways, dockyards, industrial zones, mountain back roads,... this city has it all. And there's no need to stick to the roads, either. There are plenty of jumps and secret areas to find, allowing you to add areas like railroad yards and construction sites to your list of personal playgrounds. You can also scout out the locations of the various stores in the city such as the body repair shops and gas stations. Pull through one of these even while you're racing and you'll instantly be restored to zero damage or get a full boost meter. It can certainly be fun to just race through the city on your own, tallying all of the game's super jump, breakable billboards, and other secret spots to your list in your quest to find them all, but that's not what a Burnout game is all about after all. We came here to race.
Every intersection in Paradise City is the starting point for one of the game's events. Stop in an intersection and spin your tires and you'll start the event for that intersection - some events require that you're driving a specific car or class of car, so there will always be some events that you can't enter because you're behind the wheel of the wrong car. Once you discover an event it's marked on your map, though, so it will be easy to find again once you switch cars. There are a variety of events in the game including point to point races, stunt challenges, and several variations of takedown matches.
One thing that all of the events have in common is that they require that you have a very good familiarity with the layout of the city. There are plenty of routes from which to choose to get from Point A to Point B on the other side of the city, but there are also plenty of wrong turns that you could take as well. When in an event the game will display a compass marker letting you know the general direction of your goal but it's only a minor aid. In one of my first races I was following the marker but found myself on an expressway with limited exits that soon was taking me in the completely wrong direction. This is the sort of thing you might expect to happen when searching for your hotel in a strange city in the middle of the night, but not in the heat of a race in bright daylight. The issue with getting lost is compounded by the fact that you can't simply quit out of an event. Even after all of your competitors have finished and you're still somehow in the wrong part of town, you still need to make your way to the finish line to exit the event. Making things more frustrating is that if you want to repeat the race and try again, you need to drive all of the way back to the starting intersection first. There's no way to simply select a retry option and instantly begin the race again.