I tend to get caught up in the hype of new games (and books and movies). I’m trying to break myself of the habit and get behind the “new” curve, but it can be difficult. A new 360 game is usually $60 but if you wait a month or two, especially if you are willing to buy used, you can often pick them up for $40 or less. If you can wait longer (six months or a year) most games go to $20 or less (even when purchased new).
Burnout Paradise (for the 360, PC, PS3) came out just over a year ago. A friend picked it up then and spoke very highly of it, but right about the time I was ready to get it he had stopped playing it. I have never forgotten about it, but just never bit the bullet. For the past year I have watched it drop in price from $60 to $40 to $20. A couple weeks ago the developers released a new “patch” for the game which introduced some nice features (including “event restart” – I am glad I waited for this). Due in part to this patch it has been discussed a lot more on several of the videogame podcasts I listen to. I finally decided to bite the bullet and pick it up. I tried to get a “new” copy but it wasn’t available new (at BestBuy, Target, etc.). I ended up getting it used at Gamestop for $18 – they had several in stock.
Normally I am not a fan of racing games. Games like Forza and Project Gotham Racing are too “racing simulation” for my taste. I don’t really enjoy trying to find the perfect lines, hitting the brakes just right, etc. It is too technical for me to “enjoy the game” – I don’t like constantly running into walls but I’m not patient enough to learn. I don’t really enjoy flight simulator games either, possibly for the same reasons. Burnout, though, isn’t a racing game in the vein of Forza, it is far more like SSX. SSX (a snowboarding / racing game) has long been one of my favorite videogame series, but sadly they seem to have abandoned it in the current generation of consoles. I had never tried previous Burnout games because I (mistakenly) assumed they were more like Forza and less like SSX. I played the Burnout Paradise demo (a year ago) and enjoyed it, but I think the demo was too short to really give me a taste for the game – it was fun but didn’t really demonstrate the scope of the full game. It didn’t make me fall in love with it.
From the moment started up Burnout Paradise I could tell it was special. The game is set in a completely open city. You can spend hours just driving around finding shortcuts, locating billboards to smash, doing jumps and stunts, but the “game” takes place when you come to any intersection in the city – from the intersections you can start a race (or other event, there are several types). Once you start a race (or event) you are told where to go, but not how to get there – the city is still wide open. Take what appears to be the most direct route or find shortcuts – you choose (or make a wrong turn and come in last). This encourages you to look for the shortcuts andÂ learn the map. The game provides a tremendous sense of speed, you really feel like you are barreling down the road at 120+ mph, but the controls are very easy to learn. The goal is to have fun, finish the races and events, wreck stuff (including the other racers), but to have fun – a bit of braking and e-brake helps, but you there is no need to get hung up on racing the perfect lines of the track etc. – finding the best route, taking out competitors, and not wrecking is far more important. Honestly, it is very easy to forget you should be doing races and events and just spend time driving at breakneck speed around the city (and in the mountains and on the train tracks). The graphics, sound, control, and soundtrack in this game are all absolutely top notch and at least given the current (1.7) patch, I would say this is one of the most polished games I have ever played. Anybody who enjoys “arcade” style racing games owes it to themselves to get this game, especially at $20. Burnout Paradise is a 10/10, in my book.
See for yourself: