“Burnout” is back!
10 years after “Burnout Paradise” demonstrated what a car game could be, the crash-filled racing series is back to show up everyone once again.
In “Burnout Paradise Remastered,” you get the same incredible open-world racing game that impressed critics and fans alike way back in 2008. Better yet: You also get all the additional content that came out after release, and a massive update to the visuals that befit a new game in 2018.
If you’re looking for a simulation racing game, look elsewhere. “Burnout Paradise Remastered” is about driving fast, getting into wrecks, and not worrying too much about it.
Video games weren’t always capable of simulating real-world stuff. Take sports for example. The earliest video games based on sports are extremely pared down versions of the actual sports.
Eventually, as developers were able to more closely simulate the real thing, games like “FIFA” and “Madden” took over – they’re basically simulations at this point, completely divorced from the origins of sports gaming.
That same evolutionary path can be tracked with racing games – early racing games were video game approximations of the real thing.
But in the case of racing games, when simulations became possible, the sillier, less realistic racing games split into their own subset of the overall racing genre. Even though games like “Gran Turismo” and “Forza Motorsport” offer gorgeous, ultra-realistic simulations of racing, franchises like “Burnout,” “Mario Kart,” and “Forza Horizon” use racing as the foundation for great video games. They don’t intend to simulate real-world driving – they just use it as the jumping off point for a good game.
“Burnout Paradise Remastered” is very much part of this delightful subset of racing games that strives for more than an exciting racing experience.
At the heart of “Burnout Paradise Remastered” is high-speed, arcade-style racing. Think: “Need for Speed.”
You don’t have to know how a manual gearbox works, and you don’t need to know the finer details of drifting. The right trigger is the go button, and the left trigger is the stop button. If you push A, you can use a turbo boost. That’s it!
The goal in “Burnout Paradise Remastered” is to get you going fast as soon as possible. If you happen to get into a dramatic crash along the way, so be it.
The cars aren’t Lambos and Ferraris – they’re entirely made up, part of the “Burnout” universe. They approximate cars you know and love, but they’re all fake. And that’s a good thing, because Honda and Ford probably wouldn’t appreciate the constant barrage of massive crashes.
The “Burnout” series nails the feeling of high-speed driving better than any other game, and “Burnout Paradise” is the best possible example.
10 years later, and it’s still incredibly impressive how well “Burnout Paradise” nails the feeling of going very fast. Right from the first car you get – a junky old racer – there’s a palpable sense of danger to every second of gameplay.
I played the original game for dozens of hours back in 2008, and I’ve put another 10 or so into “Burnout Paradise Remastered” – even after all that time, I still freak out when I accidentally crash at full speed.
That’s a testament to how well “Burnout Paradise” does speed. You really feel that crash in your gut, the same way you feel it when a roller coaster inches past the tipping point and starts thundering downward at full speed. The bottom drops out, and you feel it – physically.
It’s that sense of speed, and those horrific, hilarious crashes, that make “Burnout Paradise” feel so special.
The world isn’t massive, but it’s completely open-ended and packed with stuff to do.
“Burnout Paradise” is set in none other than the fictional seaside Paradise City. If you’re wondering whether the song “Paradise City” by Guns ‘n’ Roses was licensed for this game, the answer is a resounding yes. You’ll hear it in the opening credits, and during the game, and probably in your dreams/nightmares.
Questionable music tie-ins aside, Paradise City is absolutely rife with stuff to do. There are straight up races, if you’re looking for something relatively traditional. There are stunt runs, which give you two minutes to rack up a certain number of points by doing crazy stuff (barrel rolls, big air jumps, etc.). There are takedown events, where you have to take out a certain number of enemy cars by pushing them off the road in various horrific ways.
And there’s much more!
Beyond the standard events, Paradise City is also full of secret passageways, and secret jumps, and secret baseball stadiums. Just exploring the city, “Grant Theft Auto”-style, is a ton of fun. It’s what I spend most of my time doing in “Burnout Paradise,” actually.
Paradise City is more than just a city — there are mountain passes, and beaches, and lots of other environments.
It’s easy to get from downtown Paradise City to scenic mountain passes in just a few minutes. The game is intentionally designed with a massive variation in environments, despite all being set in a single place.
That means you’re likely to go racing from one end of the city to the other, traversing a wide variety of regions in the process.
While that leads to a nice variation in types of driving – long, winding roads in the mountains versus densely-packed city streets, for instance – it also leads to map memorization. After a certain period of time spent with “Burnout Paradise,” you’ll simply know where you’re going without having to glance at the minimap in the lower right corner.
In so many words, each area being so distinct makes them easier to recognize.
It’s hard to get bored playing “Burnout Paradise,” bucking the trend for racing games.
I don’t play many simulation racing games these days, but I spend lots of time with the “Forza Horizon” series, and I’m always interested in the latest “Need for Speed.” But even with the huge number of real cars in “Horizon,” and even with the gorgeous graphics, and even with the massive open-world maps, I find myself eventually getting tired of just racing. It’s one note.
Playing “Burnout Paradise Remastered” actually made it clear to me why I fell off “Forza Horizon 3” – there’s not enough variation in stuff to do, and the world is too large. I’ve found it difficult to get tired of playing “Burnout Paradise.” There’s always another billboard in the distance to crash through, another secret passageway tucked away behind the curve, another takedown event at the next intersection.
Or maybe a car I’ve unlocked goes zooming past me – if I catch up with it and take it down, it becomes available in my garage! Obviously I’m going after it. I basically have to go after it, right?
There’s a “just one more” quality to “Burnout Paradise” that makes it delightful in a way that so few racing games are. In fact, “Burnout Paradise Remastered” is a great reminder that the 10-year-old game is still the standard-bearer when it comes to great non-simulation racing games.
At just $40 on Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and PC, it’s a game you shouldn’t miss.
Check out the launch trailer right here for a better idea of what the game looks like in action: