I'm not sure how many of you have played the Burnout series from the get go, but we've seen this series constantly evolve and push graphical speed to the limit. The first Burnout I played was on the GameCube, believe it or not. Since that day I was hooked.
Burnout Paradise offers some of the sickest visual vistas this side of any racing game to date! With that said, lets start the review:
GRAPHICS: I'm sure most of you have already noticed the insane amount of detail that has gone into making Burnout Paradise the shiny diamond it is today. Not only do the car models look spectacular, but the city surrounding it is also riddled with graphical details and nuances. This city pops and comes to life, especially at 130+ MPH! Nothing is lost. From a technical standpoint, Criterion has down an awesome job evolving their graphics engine. Every time I get my hands on a new Burnout game, I'm blown away.
CONTROL: Now this is where you either love it or hate it. It seems that with this years Burnout, Criterion tried to implement a somewhat realistic suspension system that's been noticably lacking the previous entrys. This addition provides a little more control than before. Rocking the car back and forth shows the suspension at work. Also, cars feel more stable at higher speeds than previously. The e-brake is absolutely useless for drifting at high speeds, as the car tends to just want to spin out. Gas and brake finesse is the key to a nice, long drift.
GAMEPLAY: Let's get this out of the way right now: Showtime is no substitution for Crash Mode! With that out of the way, the core Burnout gameplay is alive and kicking. If you're a vet of the series, this game is pick up and play. Very little in the way of a learning curve. Being able to press both bumper buttons and have your car initiate a sideways roll of death to other commuters on the road is great fun, but the novelty wears off after awhile. The puzzle like aspect of Crash mode was what made the game challenging. Trying to figure out what the best plan of attack was for a certain intersection. It's not something that you'll miss initially, but I think once you're done with the SP you just might. I also like the fact that you have to wreck a rival to obtain their car from the junk yard, not just select it from a front end menu. And when you do get the car, it's thrashed, leaving it up to you to get it fixed. I'm really, really digging the open world gameplay as well. No more silly menus to plow through. Just pure racing heaven.
SOUND: Wow! Every crash is an audible tour-de-force for your ears. This game has some of the best crash SFXs I've ever heard. You can really tell the difference between the different car classes as well. The muscle cars have a deep roar, where as the import tuner style cars turbos spool up and blow off. Hearing those nitrous filled engines scream down the road really gets your adrenaline pumping! It seems that Paradise moves polygons even faster than the other in the series and to me that's an achievement in itself!
OVERALL: As with most racing games, there comes a time when you hit the wall (literally and figuratively) and the fun starts to fade. With the sheer mass of races to partake in and license to obtain, the SP will give most gamers a few weeks of racing bliss. Also having the XBL functions built into the d-pad also help to keep you immersed in the gameplay, instead of having to back out to the main menu and select 'Multiplayer'. If you're a fan of the series or newbie, this is the best ride you'll take this year. Except for when Race Driver: GRID hits this Spring/Summer!