Arcade racers rejoice as “Burnout Paradise” returns


Graphic courtesy of Criterion Games

Platforms: PS4, Xbox One, PC (arriving later)

Hours Played: 10+

Developer: Criterion Games

In the world of video game racers in the mid-2000s, the “Burnout” series was king. The arcade racing genre had heavy competition in the form of “Need for Speed,” “Midnight Club,” and “Ridge Racer,” but 2008’s “Burnout Paradise” marked a peak for the genre. Now, a remastered version of the game has been released.

“Burnout Paradise” abandons linear race tracks, opting for an open-world environment where players can explore a large life-like city and take on multiple types of unique challenges. It allows players to drive around the game world, discovering shortcuts and other hidden areas while unlocking new cars that offer better performance, which they can use to compete in online multiplayer against other players in a number of different races.

All of this is possible while still offering satisfying high-speed gameplay that gives an incredible sense of movement. Even with all of the additional game modes included, driving around the game world of your own volition is exciting; with a number of collectibles to gather in the form of breaking billboards, discovering shortcuts, and performing large jumps, the additional game modes are just icing on the cake.

The game was met with critical acclaim, garnering an average of 88 out of 100 on the aggregate review website Metacritic. As expected, the remaster offers mostly the same experience as the original game’s release. Running at a higher resolution and on modern hardware means the game looks better than ever, all while running at a smooth 60 frames per second.

The “Burnout” series is known for its high-fidelity crash systems, where the sheer level of detail put into car crashes is plain staggering. Every crash plays out in slow motion, zooming in on cars that literally break at the seams when they collide with each other or obstacles. It gives failure its own minor reward in the form of well-choreographed car crashes, with a respawn timer that feels fair.

Returning to the experience years later, it is extraordinary how well “Burnout Paradise” has aged since its original release a decade ago. The game's city and forest areas flow exceptionally well, creating a cohesive environment with meticulously placed shortcuts and well-designed streets. It’s obvious that the team at Criterion Games worked hard to create a fun world to explore, with no single area noticeably worse than the other.

As mentioned earlier, the remaster includes all of the add-on content that arrived after the original game’s release, the most hefty of this additional content being the ‘Big Surf Island’ add-on. This add-on inserts an additional island area to the game’s open-world, offering even more streets to explore and high-flying jumps to pull off.

It doesn’t feel quite as well-crafted as the original game’s areas, with some weirdly-designed shortcuts, but it is a nice addition to the overall package.

Perhaps the most relieving news for fans of the game was that the original acclaimed soundtrack would be returning to the remaster.

The game offers a large number of songs across a variety of genres; from rock artists like Guns n’ Roses, Seether and Alice in Chains, to fan favorites in the form of Avril Lavigne and songs from previous “Burnout” games, there’s something to make everyone happy while cruising around paradise.