Burnout Paradise is 10 years old. Let that sink in for a second. A title that was the darling of last generation has officially been around for a decade.
All things considered, it’s pretty mad since people still see this as the benchmark for arcade racing and open-world titles in the genre too. It wasn’t surprising to see EA finally make the call for a remaster, but it still felt like a moment of triumph when it was confirmed.
So, how does the remaster hold up? Well, the truth is that this is literally the Burnout Paradise you will remember, blemishes and all. Paradise City is clearly a place in some sort of time loop because returning to it feels distinctly like a place a decade old, as highlighted by the many posters showing off Paradise City’s 2009 Car of The Year.
This is far from a negative though.
Content & Value For Money
Burnout Paradise Remastered is chock full of content right from the start. Events in Paradise City are found by pulling up at any junction in the city and spinning your tyres. Event types are split into five main categories:
Each of these is naturally distinct and does a good job of keeping things fresh. Unlike most open worlds, Paradise doesn’t force you to explore in order to find the next event or challenge to tackle. More often than not, where one event ends, there’s something new to try out. It keeps momentum going and as such it is one of Paradise‘s greatest features. Many still long for the linearity of Burnout 3 and Revenge but Paradise keeps the ball rolling 90% of the time.
The game also features 75 fictional unlockable vehicles. Start completing events and each of these will start to roam the city. Crash each out when you see them cruising to add them to your collection. Since this is a re-release of the game, all DLC that was added in the 2008 version of the game is here too. Disappointingly, all of this content is just dumped on the player upon starting the game. This is good for those who want to jump straight in but it makes the early part of Paradise‘s single player a bit arbitrary. Most of the cars you’ll need to hunt down are already available in the police DLC pack right from the start.
Outside of the 120 events that players can access, there’s plenty of side activities to do as well. Billboards, smash boards and other hidden goodies are spread throughout Paradise City in great number. Exploring in itself is a worthwhile task thanks to the layered setup of the environment. That’s without even mentioning Big Surf Island.
Big Surf is the crown jewel in all of Paradise Remastered‘s content. All the chaos, madness and fun of Paradise is condensed into a relatively small piece of land. There’s also new events to tackle and cars to unlock here as well, including some really nice toy versions of the movie car pack vehicles.
It’s hard to sum up the plethora of unlockables and content available in Burnout Paradise Remastered. The original game was dense but the addition of DLC that was arriving during the ‘Year of Paradise’ is just the cherry on top. For the price you’ll pay, it’s an absolute steal. That’s without mentioning any of the online content, either.
I’m going to be frank, Burnout Paradise Remastered barely lives up to the name. You can show me all the slightly changed texture work on walls all you want but the truth is that in motion, this looks pretty much the exact same as last generation. This looks like an Xbox 360 game in every detail and as I was also playing that version in tandem, it was easy to forget which I was playing. Stellar Entertainment has upped the resolution to 4K for consoles that support it, so if you do have a new display unit you will get to see the game at a higher spec.
One of the best aspects of the original Burnout Paradise was its ability to run at an ultra-smooth 60fps. This has been maintained in the remaster thankfully and it feels wonderful. The fast and frantic gameplay almost requires a smooth experience so if the graphics weren’t really altered in order to keep this intact then it was a good decision.
The HUD and menus have also been left untouched. This means that the slightly confusing mini-map still plagues the game but this is really a minor issue. Criterion’s slimline interface works perfectly in the game and you’re never taken out of the experience to tweak settings or anything along those lines.
In the end, Paradise Remastered barely uses the new power advantage it has over last generation and a resolution bump isn’t enough to make it come across visually as anything more than meh.
One of the worries when rumors of this remaster came along was regarding the soundtrack of Paradise. Thankfully, there’s no need to worry because the original title’s soundtrack is intact, Avril Lavigne and all.
The pop-punk and rock-infused track list works perfectly in Burnout Paradise and amplifies the experience quite a bit. There might not be as many earworms as previous entries in the franchise but Guns N’ Roses titular “Paradise City” is still as iconic as it was in the 2008 release. Even though the song plays every time the game is booted up, you’ll rarely find yourself pressing the skip button.
On the sound effects front, there’s also no changes worthy of note. Cars still shift up indefinitely during boosting and shunts, crashes and smashes all sound fantastic. Smashing your opponent into a wall is cathartic at the best of times but the SFX just drive this point home further. DJ Atomika’s radio blurbs harken back to the era of EA Big and the extreme games published under the label. If his inclusion was a throwback initially, then it feels extra nostalgic a decade later.
Burnout Paradise Remastered scoffs in the face of realistic sim racers and arcade games that don’t want to commit to being arcadey. From the first moment you drive until the very last, the title feels frantic and fantastic. It’s a honed physics engine that aims to deliver a relentless driving thrill and it delivers on all accounts (aside from lame low speed driving). There are moments playing Paradise where you just sit back and think “how the hell did I get here?”
This is in part down to the intricate design of the open world but the physics engine partners it well by only slowing down the player in extreme circumstances. You’ll fly off ramps, smash billboards, drift around hairpins and thump your opponent of the road without losing even a sliver of speed. The true driving skill comes from harnessing your vehicle of choice and its handling and boost model. It’s not about driving lines or well placed overtakes, it’s the opposite.
The vehicles mentioned before all have a distinct personality that means you’ll definitely have a favorite by the time you’re done with the game. It’s all very simple but that’s why it works; racing cars are fragile, SUVs are bulky and the toy cars provided in the expansion pack feel like Micro Machines unleashed in the real world.
All aspects considered, Burnout Paradise is a quirky drive with just enough intricacy that you’ll always wonder just how much you can pull off. A triple barrel roll off the ramp at the dam? No problem … probably.
Single player in Burnout Paradise is weighty but like most arcade racers it’s also a bit repetitive. Thankfully, the online experience here is one of the best even this generation. Criterion Games’ “Easy Drive” system integrates seamless online into the world of Paradise City. Through the controller’s D-pad alone, you can choose a match, create your own or join a friend in a matter of seconds. Its ease of access is its biggest strength.
The party piece in the online comes from 500 Freeburn challenges available right from the off. These mini events challenge players in groups from 1 to 8 to perform certain tasks in Paradise City. This can range from cutting a few near misses with oncoming traffic or meeting in the local baseball stadium. Challenges are varied and fun; find a crew and watch the hours roll by.
If you’re mad enough to try and beat every Freeburn offering, a super secret car awaits unlocking. There’s always something to aim for and that’s why the online offering is so good. No complicated menus to navigate, just set an event up and have fun. That’s what Burnout Paradise is all about.
There’s a good chance that most people reading this review have already experienced all the above over hundreds of hours. That’s the biggest roadblock facing Burnout Paradise Remastered. Nothing has really changed in the past ten years. Those who’ve already played the game will know every road, every shortcut and every hidden unlockable. The graphics aren’t upgraded enough to justify double dipping. It’s all very familiar.
That being said, Burnout Paradise is still one of the most fun racing games ever made. It wears its madness on its shoulder and always has “one more trial” for a player to overcome. Anyone who’s played the game religiously before will know just how great the online play is. The combination of a city where everything seems possible and challenges that encourage community make it a once in a generation experience. Series like Forza Horizon offer something similar but Paradise’s separation from reality just makes it more fun.
If you’ve never played Burnout Paradise before then I recommend this remaster 100%. If you’ve already played the game to death, this new coat of paint doesn’t add anything to the experience. You just need to decide if the new online community justifies the asking price.
Burnout Paradise Remastered
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