Burnout Paradise Remastered Review
Having been a fan of the 2008 original game, I was pretty eager to jump into Burnout Paradise Remastered and rekindle that old flame. I fondly remember zooming my way through Paradise City all those years ago, and while I’ve certainly developed a love for sim-like racers in recent years, there hasn’t been anything that has matched the sheer speed, rush, and vehicle destruction quite like the Burnout series. And while I would’ve preferred a different Burnout game to get the remaster treatment, Paradise’s open-world game design stands the test of time and may even feel more at home in this console generation than the last.
I’m happy to report that Burnout Paradise still holds up shockingly well a decade later. The driving mechanics are incredibly tight and magically responsive, making each breathtaking turn, jump, and takedown all the more satisfying. The Forza Horizon series may pass as an arcade racer nowadays, but Burnout’s unparalleled controls leave it in the dust.
“It didn’t take much to fall back in love with Paradise’s care-free attitude, an open invitation to embrace my inner speed demon”
As far as changes go, developer Stellar Entertainment has taken a familiar approach to updating the original game. It boasts a shiny new coat of 1080p paint on PS4 and Xbox One, and even receives a 4K boost on the more powerful PS4 Pro and Xbox One X, all while maintaining a brisk 60 frames per second. The upgrades are nice to have — the reflections look particularly great — but parts of Paradise City still lack the polish and detail racing fans have come to expect out of their racers. Even so, it’s doubtful you’ll even notice these shortcomings when your eyes are so focused on avoiding obstacles at breakneck speed. The game also comes loaded with every piece of DLC generously unlocked from the start, which personally isn’t too far off from me actually booting up my original Burnout Paradise save file on Xbox 360.
While it may sound like a plus to have access to all the cars, bikes, and the Big Surf Island district from the get-go, it actually detracts from the overall progression and even challenge of the game. In the original game, you’re doled out a handful of low-powered cars at the beginning. You’ll gradually unlock more powerful cars later as you complete more and more challenges, which are essential to beating tougher opponents and races. Pretty standard stuff. In the remaster, however, the progression is still there but now you have a stacked garage full of kick-ass motorbikes, police cruisers, and legendary cars like the Carson GT Nighthawk, the Jansen 88 Special, or hell, even the Delorean from Back to the Future. It’s something to think about going in, especially if this is your first time in Paradise City. I’d recommend playing it the way it was always intended, but I suppose it is a nice option to have for players who just want to blaze through everything or are having a tough time getting through a specific challenge. Having everything unlocked doesn’t completely hinder the fun in Burnout Paradise, which again is all about blistering speed, tricking out, and feeling the crunch of those brutal crashes. All of that is here in spades, and then some.
I wish more games (and not just racing games) would take Burnout Paradise’s approach to open-world design. It was refreshing to be dumped into the world with a beat-up car and do whatever the hell I pleased. Okay, so I did have to repair my car but after that, the world was my oyster. Before long, it didn’t take much to fall back in love with Paradise’s care-free attitude, an open invitation to embrace my inner speed demon. Paradise City is littered with explorable nooks and crannies, literally hundreds of shortcuts, super and mega jumps, crimson-coloured billboards to smash, and so much more. If that wasn’t enough, practically every intersection has an event to complete which, upon doing so, will get you closer to earning the coveted Burnout Elite license. The world may not be as populated or alive when compared to recent games in the genre, but its wonderfully intricate and super fun to explore.
There is an assortment of seemingly endless different events too, ranging from standard races, time trials, takedown challenges, etc. What’s especially noteworthy about Burnout Paradise is how it puts its trust in the player. At the beginning of every race, you’re told where on the map you need to get to, but that’s all the direction you’re going to get. There are no visible arrows on the road to tell you where to go. You have a mini-map which shows the direction your goal is in, but it’s ultimately your choice as to how to get there. Learning the ins and outs of Paradise City is half the fun, and while it is a pretty big sandbox, it isn’t overwhelmingly large to the point where you won’t be able to memorize the best and fastest routes.
Everything moves so quickly in Burnout Paradise, and I’m not just talking about its gameplay. Load times are practically non-existent in the game, events kickstart in seconds, and even when the action does slow down (during crashes and takedowns), it’s only really to catch your breath before you’re barrelling through another shortcut. It’s seamless, and it lends itself to Paradise City’s open-ended design. It’s a difficult game to put down, often tickling that “just one more race” mentality. I’m warning you now, don’t be shocked to find a few hours whisked away when you were only hoping to squeeze thirty minutes in.
There are plenty of online challenges too that will keep you playing after you’ve wrapped up everything in Paradise City. You can also choose to grab a friend and race around at your leisure, taking in the sights while rocking out to LCD Soundsystem, Brand New, or…Avril Lavigne? Honestly speaking, the soundtrack is an eclectic mix of good and bad but it does accompany the insane action pretty darn well. And even if you do get tired of the 80-some tracks bundled in, there’s always the option to play something in the background from Spotify; a feature you couldn’t pull off in the 360/PS3 age.
Burnout Paradise Remastered most definitely fills a hole in today’s pantheon of driving games, but it’s difficult to recommend at its current asking price. While the visual upgrades are a plus, this is still the same game you played ten years ago, only a bit shinier. If you’re playing on Xbox One, there’s even less of a reason to double-dip since the original — which is a bargain deal nowadays — can be played through the system’s backwards compatibility feature, DLC and all. On the other hand, if you’re a part of the crowd that missed out, or you’re a PS4 owner with no discernible way to play the PS3 version, then this remastered version offers a lot of value for your buck.
Burnout Paradise Remastered is the perfect reminder of an arcade racer done right. The core driving mechanics are near perfect and feel more in tune than some modern racers. It’s an absolute blast to play and is just as addictive now as it was in 2008. It’s disappointing that the remastering effort isn’t a giant super jump leap from the original game, which makes it hard to recommend to anyone that wants to make a return trip to Paradise City. With that said, it’s still an enjoyable racing romp that holds up extremely well today.
*** Xbox One code provided by the publisher ***
- Still feels great to play
- The sense of speed is practically unmatched
- Loads of content
- Lots of value for your buck
- There isn’t much new here
- Some imbalance with unlocked DLC