Paradise City, sounds great don't it? But don't be fooled this city was designed by City planners who had petrol in their veins and lead in their feet. It's Burnout Paradise. It's a racers dream where the roads are wide, the other traffic are targets, and not a sniff of the law.
The Burnout franchise has always been about cars, speed and crashing. Its a classic, and like all classics cars it is constantly being polished. This latest release is no exception with the introduction of a city that you have total freedom to explore. You start of in your old junker with your learners license and with foot to the floor you are off.
The city is divided into various districts, like downtown, naval yard etc. Each area has their own types of roads and terrain but what is common to them all is how much freedom you have. There are heaps of ramps, secret bypasses, tunnels and tracks that can take you across the map. The more you explore these the more you can be prepared to meet the game challenges. You can trigger these at any time when you come to a traffic signal controlled intersection, Slam on your brakes and rev your engine and it's game on! Challenges range from one on one racing, multiple opponents, and take down where your challenge is to force your opponent to crash.
The more you compete and the more vehicles you cars take down the more car variants you can unlock. There is no branded vehicles here (can't see any of the major companies being brave enough to be associated with speed and crashing) but its not too hard to figure out what they are modeled after, Dotted about the city are garages where you can not only get your car repaired but also you trade in for a new car that you managed to unlock.
There are two key aspects to this game, the feeling of insane speed, and crashing. Both are something the game developers have turned into an art form. Hit the boost button and the car smoothly accelerates to what feels like impossible speed. The graphics are surprisingly smooth and deliver a real sense of acceleration no matter the twists and turns you introduce through the controls.
No matter how non-politically correct it is to say it, the crashes are stunning and a lot of fun. Hit a concrete wall full-on at top speed and you enter the slow motion zone where you get to watch your car crumble and crease, glass shatter, and one memorable sequence where the car crashed and the cars paint kept flying forward. You side swipe, end over end and even take a train head on. As in previous games in the series there is the crash challenge. Now called Showtime you can drop into this mode at anytime. Find the rush hour just a bit too tame? Hit your secondary triggers and you are into crash mode where its not speed, but maximum damage. Cars and people movers score lower than buses and trucks. Even road signs can gain you points. The more you hit the longer you can prolong the crash sequence. Impossibly long really. We manage 200 cars, unrealistic yes but addictive fun none the less.
It would not be a Burnout game with out 'Crash FM', the background radio station that accompanies you on your drive around Paradise City. With Guns 'n' Roses, Twisted Sister, Adam and the Ants, Avril Lavigne to name just a few, the sound tracks is loud, brash and perfect for the game.
Graphics wise the game is good with some well executed reflections on the body work of the cars. Perhaps as a product of the smooth frame rate the scenery graphics, although well done, do in places feel lack luster. The only other niggle is the game map. Appearing in the corner of the screen it is busy and difficult to follow during a race. We wonder if rather than a traditional map approach a GPS type map might have worked better.
Overall this is a good game and once again a step up in the series. If you are into racing games or want to vent your road rage then this is a game you must get hold of. Its fun to play and people watching will be oohing and ahhing at the spectacular crashes.