Burnout Paradise has an open environment of over 11 square miles that you can drive. No sections of the city are locked so you are free to roam from the first time you play the game. Anyone who plays this sort of driving game knows that usually you are locked into a specific area of the city until you win enough races to move to a new area.
You start the game off with one car from the stunt classification. The car looks like a cross of 60’s Mustang and a Plymouth Cuda to me. There are 75 different cars total in the game to unlock. There is no customization of cars in this game. Burnout Paradise isn’t about the cars and hopping them up as much as it’s about the driving. When you first get your car it’s crashed up (what would you expect when you get your ride at a junkyard) and you have to find your first repair place to fix it up. There is nothing complex in the repair function, you simply drive through the repair location and you are fixed on the fly. Here is no stopping the driving action and you can (and will need to) repair during a race without slowing down. Scattered around the city are also gas stations, which refill your boost when you drive through as well as paint shops that give you new paint jobs when you drive through.
One of the coolest things about this game is that you never have to endure a load screen. That’s right no load screens ever, not even to get online or start a race. When you get tired of driving around the city crashing into traffic and hunting big jumps all you need to do to get a race is pull up to any stop light and spin your tires by holding brake and gas at once.
There are a few races around the city that you need specific cars for, but on the whole you can race at any traffic light. Burnout Paradise has caught some grief over the lack of a restart option for races. This means when you are in a race that starts on one side of the city and end son the other side if you lose the only way to try again is to drive back to the same intersection to try the race over. Personally, this is preferable to me than having to sit through a load screen for the race again. Plus I always find other races between where I am the start of the previous race to fill my time.
There are race modes where the goal is to not get taken out, or crashed by rivals on your way to a specific ending place. Some races are just that a race where you can take any path you want so long as you end up at the right place.
Actually ending up at the right place can be a challenge there is simply a huge number of streets in Burnout Paradise and you can get lost even when you are watching the HUD nav screen. Scattered around the city are different jumps and stunts that you can make for points that you will want to learn the location of for the stunt race events where toe goal is to win a certain amount of points from doing stunts.
One of my favorite aspects of the game is Showtime. Showtime is activated on the PS3 version of the game by hitting the R1 and L1 buttons at the same time. The car slides and then starts to roll. Once in a roll you can control where the car rolls with the right stick just as you control the car when driving. To make the car keep rolling you hit the X button each time you want it to roll. So long as you have boost in your boost gauge you can keep the car rolling.
The goal in Showtime is to cause as much damage as possible by blowing up other cars and destroying signals. Buses come around every now and again and for each bus you can hit during your crash you earn a score multiplier. Showtime scores for each street in Burnout Paradise are stored online and offline to allow you to try and beat the best scores set by yourself and other gamers.
As the game progresses and you win races you earn marks on your license allowing license upgrades. Each time you get a license upgrade you have access to new cars. You win one new ride at each license upgrade and as you win races at certain points you will be notified of new cars that are traveling throughout the city. To win these cars you need to crash them. Once you crash the new car it becomes available at the junk yard.
Burnout Paradise has an ESRB rating of E10+. There are no drivers inside the cars and the very realistic crashes in the game are what earned it the 10-+ rather than a simple E rating. I have mentioned before that the wealth of games with either E rating for the Ps3 is lacking, so if you are a parent that has kids wanting to play games with you on the PS3, Burnout Paradise is one of the few titles that many will find acceptable rating wise.
The controls of the game are easy to use and are basically the same as every other racing game for the PS3. The game does a decent job of implementing the Logitech G25 racing wheel. I found the force feedback strength to be low for my tastes. The two games that implement the G25 the best are NASCAR and Need for Speed Pro Street. With a little practice you can easily use the G25 for this game and the added vibration and force feedback, even if weak is fun. I still prefer to use the gamepad myself.
Mug shots are a cool aspect of Burnout Paradise as well. If you or the other players in an online match have a webcam connected to the PS3 when you crash them or they crash you they can collect Mug Shots which are images of your face and theirs as the crash happens. As you can imagine the Mug Shots can get a bit graphic if you and a rival are going at it. Parents beware this feature if you allow your kids to play online. The good news is that you can turn Mug Shots off. It is pretty cool though to see the face of the guy your six-year old just smeared all over the bridge railing in a race, so long as he isn’t flipping the camera the bird.
When you get ready to race some real opponents online you can get online by hitting the right D-pad button and the connection is seamless. You are online with other racers from the same place you were in the offline game. The person who started the online event can put down a set of challenges for the other racers in the event like drifting for a specific length, racing, or takedowns. Some of the events require the cooperation of all of the players in the game to complete. Online in Burnout Paradise is one of the game’s greatest strengths.
After spending lots of time with Burnout Paradise over the weekend I can say that it is one of the best racing games currently on the PS3 or any other system for that matter. If driving games is one of the genres that you like you would be crazy to not add Burnout Paradise to your library. This game is a blast and can be enjoyed by gamers young and old.
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