Burnout Paradise RemasteredMarch 16th, 2018
PlatformXbox One, PlayStation 4, PC (later)
DeveloperCriterion Games, Stellar Entertainment
Racing games used to be simple. Give players some road, a few fast cars, and a reasonable amount of control, and they were happy. In recent years, the genre has taken to chasing down trends, with titles like The Crew, Driveclub, Gran Turismo Sport, and Need for Speed Payback trying to transform racing games into MMOs, the next esports sensation, or Ultimate-Team-style money-printing machines. These attempts usually fall flat. Ultimately, most racers still succeed or fail based on what the game feels like when the rubber hits the road.
If the racing genre is in need of a bit of clarity, Burnout Paradise Remastered could be the dose of Adderall it needs. Burnout is racing at its most basic and primal – go fast, cause mayhem, get a better car, then go faster and cause even more mayhem. Then again, Burnout Paradise is also over a decade old at this point. Does the game still hold up, or is this Burnout more of a flameout?
The setup for Burnout Paradise is blissfully simple. There’s no cheesy story mode or overly-complex progression system -- you’re dropped into Paradise City and are immediately free to go and do whatever you want. Every stoplight in the game is the starting point for a different event. Win enough of them, and you can upgrade your license, which boosts the difficulty of events and nets you new cars.
Burnout Paradise’s events come in various forms – in addition to basic races, there are Stunt Runs, Marked Man chases that task you with surviving a pack of hostile opponents, Road Rage challenges which let you be the aggressor, and more. Sadly, the Burnout series’ fan-favorite Crash Mode, which doled out points for causing as much destruction as possible, is not in this game. It’s a somewhat baffling omission, but it doesn’t cripple an otherwise exhilarating experience.
Burnout Paradise has a blistering sense of speed. Hitting the nitrous and weaving through traffic at top speed is a heart-stopping thrill, and if you screw up, well, that’s fun, too. Burnout Paradise’s crash physics are still unmatched -- some of the wrecks you’ll find yourself in will make you cringe, even though there’s nobody behind the wheel of any of game’s cars (given the safety of Paradise City’s roads, I assume most of the cars are driven by ghosts).
Despite the speed and emphasis on destruction, you never feel like you’re out of control. Car handling is as tight as it needs to be, and Paradise City is smartly designed to feel open while keeping the action relatively constrained. Unlike, say, the recent Need for Speed Payback, which let you easily drive off cliffs, get stuck on scenery, and get into all sorts of other momentum-halting trouble, Burnout Paradise always keeps the action moving forward.
Unfortunately, Burnout Paradise doesn’t completely outrun the ravages of time. Paradise City is fun to mindlessly cruise around in, but trying to get to a specific point can sometimes be a pain. Unlike more modern open-world racers, which usually point you exactly where you need to go with big, glowing arrows, Burnout Paradise forces you to keep an eye on your map and find your own way. That’s fine if you’re just trying to get to the local garage or junk shop, but trying to figure out which direction to take can be tough when you’re blazing down the road at 200 miles per hour with half-a-dozen aggressive opponents on your tail. The game will alert you when you need to take a turn, but these warnings are easy to miss, and you will frequently find yourself turned around or lost. The Burnout series promises over-the-top escapism, but accidentally taking the wrong exit and getting trapped on the freeway isn’t exactly empowering.
Thankfully, navigating Paradise City becomes less frustrating once you get more familiar with the map. Burnout Paradise takes the process of learning all the twists and turns of a standard racetrack and extends it to an entire city. There is, admittedly, a certain satisfaction in finding all shortcuts, secrets, and optimal routes. You may get to know Paradise City better than your own hometown.
So, Burnout Paradise Remastered is still a (mostly) smooth ride, but what kind of improvements have been brought to the table? The game boasts improved lighting and textures, can be played in 4K on PS4 Pro and Xbox One X, and, as always, runs at a solid 60fps. You won’t mistake Burnout Paradise Remastered for a current-gen triple-A racer, but it still gets the job done. The other part of the Burnout Paradise Remastered package – the inclusion of all the game’s DLC – is less exciting. Most of the DLC cars are overpowered, to the point playing with them kind of feels like a cheat. The additional “Big Surf Island” area is also significantly less fun to explore than the mainland. Oh, and the game’s original soundtrack has been left fully intact – whether that’s a good thing will depend on your tolerance for the 2000s-tastic sounds of Avril Lavigne, Killswitch Engage, and Seether.
Burnout Paradise doesn’t have a particularly well-defined end goal – it will take most players around 15 hours to earn their Burnout license. Double that time if you want to 100 percent the game. You can also delve into the game’s online Freeburn Challenges and races, or the goofy, yet entertaining, local multiplayer Burnout Party mode. You’re getting a solid value for your $40, and beyond that, Burnout Paradise is simply a great chillout experience. There’s a good chance you’ll find yourself returning to cruise the streets even if you don’t have anything particular left to do.
This review was based on a PS4 copy of Burnout Paradise Remastered provided by publisher EA. You can purchase the game on Amazon.
Burnout Paradise Remastered is like a finely-tuned vintage car – sure, it’s quirky and a bit archaic, but those concerns melt away once you get behind the wheel and rev that engine. Blasting around Paradise City is exciting, rewarding, and a great low-stress tonic for when modern game design gets you down. Oh, you’ll be pleased to take this one home.
- Freedom to tackle the game how you want
- Perfect balance of speed and control
- Crash physics are still best in class
- Solid visual buff and shine
- Good amount of content
- Navigating during races is a pain
- Sorry, Crash Mode isn't in the game
- Soundtrack is an embarrassing artifact