Burnout Paradise - Xbox 360 review

For racing fans eager to obliterate their motors, the Burnout series has always been the way to go. It’s early addiction for dangerous driving being overtaken by “Takeouts”, which saw you rewarded for actively bashing your opponents off the road and into the scenery. Nice.

While there has been a few dissenting voices to this change in focus, the series has taken off in the last few years. So how far can you take its arcade-like structured gameplay before people tire of buying the same old game over and over again?

Well we won’t get to find out, as Burnout Paradise can rightly claim to be completely “open-world”. Now that’s a change not many would have expected at all. Maybe a big gun strapped to your bonnet yes, but not a complete lack of structured racing.

An obvious starting point to describe Burnout Paradise is the sublime Test Drive Unlimited. That free-form racer, which allowed you to pick and choose your battles at will proved that heavily structured racing wasn’t the only brand that hardcore racing fans desired.

But perhaps a better likeness would almost be the fantastic Xbox 360 stunner, Crackdown. You see, Paradise City isn’t simply a glorified menu to casually drive around before you find a race or competition. Instead, it’s a huge play area that allows you to achieve various rewards simply by having fun.

Want to bash through as many billboards as possible? Then the game will keep a tally of that for you, allowing you to have as much riotous fun as possible.

Not that the races aren’t a serious amount of fun too. That same gameplay of old that rewards you for driving recklessly, and smashing into your competitors' vehicles remains, and proves to be even more outstandingly gorgeous to look at on an HD ready console.

It’s not just simple racing that you have to contend with however. Road rage events are a particular high point, with masses of wrecked vehicles littering the landscape as you’re rewarded particularly greatly for obliterating your opponents.

Also exciting are the stunt runs, which see you leaping chasms, and completing huge numbers of spectacular aerial tricks in order to achieve the number one spot. Safe to say that if you tire of simple racing, you won’t be found wanting.

Sadly, the good old Crash mode doesn’t make an appearance. That fun branch of the series that simply tasked you with causing as much damage as possible during a huge crash has seemingly been put firmly to bed, which is a hell of a shame.

Not that it’s all a riot. The ability to immediately jump back to the start of a race has been ripped out completely, leaving you floundering if you fail to achieve what you need to progress. It’s astonishingly frustrating to be left having to trek back to the start of the race to have another pop, when all that could’ve have been done in a split second with a button press.

The music and hyperactive "DJ" on offer are just as tiresome too. Some of the tracks can really get you in the mood for some brutal racing fun, but Avril Lavigne? Why bother with that rubbish when you could have crammed in another absolute classic track? And the irritating DJ’s random comments get old roughly 5 minutes after you switch on your machine.

But, the graphics are something else. The visuals are dazzling enough when stood perfectly still, but seeing them move at such an incredible pace as you weave between vehicles on a HD TV is an absolute joy. It’s simply one of the best looking games currently available on any console. Speaking of which, both the Xbox 360 and PS3 versions look remarkably similar in action, so it’s not a difficult choice if you own both machines. Go for the cheapest!

Verdict

A brand new direction it may be, but it's one that proves to initiate masses of driving thrills. Yes the lack of instant restarts is annoying, and the DJ is a joke, but out on the road, Burnout Paradise bashes all its opponents into submission.