Come on pretty mama...
Criterion Games has certainly shown other developers how to put out great DLC and keep a game going for months after its release. With today's market killing off titles soon after they're out, Burnout Paradise has managed to stay popular after almost two years since its release.
[image1]Big Surf Island is the major content DLC pack that most Paradise players have been waiting for, mainly because it adds an entire new section of Paradise City for exploration. Aptly named Big Surf Island, it is connected to the main game world by a bridge that was previously inaccessible. It isn't a huge section of land, though, nearing about a quarter of Paradise City, but what it lacks in space, it more than makes up in jumps and trick-specialized areas.
As soon as you hit the bridge to Big Surf, you are rewarded with one of the eight new cars that are unlocked along the way in this DLC: the Carson Dust Storm, a dirt buggy. This buggy is safe to say, one of the most entertaining cars in the game; due to its light weight, it can jump like crazy on ramps, making it one of the best trick vehicles so far. The other cars, while fun in their own right, are mostly re-imaginings of the known Burnout Paradise rides, like a Hummer-inspired barge and a Hot Rod. The remaining cars are none other than tiny, toy-like versions of the classic cars included in the Legendary Car DLC released a while back, recreations of the DeLorean, Ecto-1, K.I.T.T., and General Lee.
[image2]Speaking of burning routes, there is a new event added to this DLC called Isle Tour, where you traverse checkpoints all around the island under a strict time limit. Sadly for most, crossing these great big pylons on the road runs the gamut of all the events on the island: race, road rage fighting, or just against the clock. This method of racing, while exciting for the first few events, quickly grows tiring; unlike Paradise City, which had various sections that extended. After a few runs in each event, which aren't a lot at all, you'll get to see almost all of what Big Surf has to offer.
As with Burnout Paradise, Criterion has included a host of incentives to entice you into exploring this new area of the city, with yet more billboards and crashes to discover, tying in more Achievements in the process. While finding and destroying these landmarks makes for an excuse for extended replay, most are simply standing in your way while driving. In fact, ramming into them is way too easy for veteran "billboarders" from Paradise, with most of them being placed right in front of ramps, taking away a bit of the sense of discovery and cunning from the exploration of the original content. That's not to say that crashing through these obstacles isn't as fun as before, but it does take away a bit of the accomplishment when you can simply back your car up against a ramp and barely touch a billboard. However, Big Surf offers some of the crazier big jumps seen in Burnout Paradise, including a gigantic sky slope that propels your car into the air for a number of seconds, getting a front - and only - seat to a sky view of the island.
[image3]Saying Criterion has been ripping players off with Burnout Paradise's downloadable content would be too bold, with content packs being offered for free since the game originally came out, and recent priced ones that add new cars and multiplayer events. However, Big Surf Island is still a wee too expensive at the 1000 Microsoft Points price mark (almost 13 dollars for you PSN users), considering the low number of new event types on the island and how repetitive they get due to the checkpoint format. At the same time, the addition of the miniaturized legendary cars can be interpreted as a 'sorry' note to fans for the expensive price of the past content pack, which most of the fans (includes me) bought day one only to be disappointed.
While the new island is certainly a fun diversion with a few interesting gifts in store for Paradise City veterans to unlock, it's an ephemeral one that won't hold interest for long, making it hard to recommend this whole-heartedly to everyone.