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Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Preview: Burnout Paradise


Burnout Paradise (2008)
Developer: Criterion Games
Platform: PlayStation 3
Purchase Date: 02/11/2008

The Burnout games have been my favorite racing series of all time with its trademark spectacular crashes and high speed arcade action. When I downloaded the demo, I was shocked to see it move to the free roaming format. Gone are the select screens where you choose which race you want to partake in. Instead, you have to roam an entire virtual city to trigger the different racing options available.


Paradise City is huge and beautiful.

The free roaming gameplay works well because there are always something for you to do at every turn of each street: You enter the races and a variation of events by stopping by the traffic lights scattered around town and pressing the brakes and accelerate buttons at the same time. There are also secret jumps to find and things to crash into all over the place. The graphics are what you would expect from a Burnout game - bright, beautiful, and shiny at all the right places. Gone though are the more exotic locations you could find in the predecessors since you are stuck in one big city. The varying themes between the different segments of the map are just too familiar and lack originality.


With more flying parts than ever before!

I found the crashes here somewhat disappointing compared to the rest of the series... At the very moment of impact, the camera changes to a different angle instantly as it focuses on the immediate area of damage in dramatic slow-mo. You can now see detailed, miniscule crunches on the doomed vehicles' bodies, which is of course morbidly exciting, but this sudden camera change actually detracts from the experience because it makes you feel like you are just watching instead of partaking in the crash. In the previous games, panning effects were used to keep the player's perspective intact and I only experience a few of those here. The same happens when you jump a gap - the camera would cut to a more dramatic perspective and the sense of playing is replaced with the passiveness of watching the game.

At least the arcade thrills and the authentic sense of speed are still here. As an added depth, memorizing the big map's layout is rewarding since you can use your knowledge of shortcuts to gain advantage over your opponents. In between the game's many goals, I have found myself distracted by the city's allure as I found myself mostly driving along the road, enjoying the breathtaking view surrounding me.

FIRST IMPRESSION - 3 out of 5

Version Note: Played both dowloadable demos and I found this
version to have slightly better lighting effects than the X-Box 360.

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