This guest article comes from Earth! Earth is a forum moderator, general do-it-all guy, and occasional thorn in Shane’s side.
Earlier this year, EA released a remastered version of the 2008 classic, Burnout Paradise. The remastered version, released for the Xbox One and PlayStation 4, and soon the PC, includes support for up to 4K resolutions and 60 frames per second. It retails for $40USD, $20 less than the standard price for a new game. It contains all of the DLC, it contains no microtransactions, and everything can be unlocked through gameplay.
It’s a return to the golden age of modern gaming. Burnout Paradise set the bar for racing games, and every racing game since, from Need for Speed to Forza Horizon, has tried to emulate its success. The exploration element has not just influenced racing games, but many other games as well.
The game world is incredibly well designed. It has a grid-like city center area, an interstate, and country roads. There are shortcuts all over the game world that you can find, and billboards to smash. The trick, however, is that you can see most of the boards easily, but some are way up in the air above you, and you’ve got to figure out how to reach them. Despite being a car racing game, the world is very much designed with vertical elements in mind.
In the background, there are billboards in the air with advertisements. Some have criticized the inclusion of such ads, but I think they’re charming. They’re non-intrusive and they generate revenue for the company creating the game. It’s part of what allowed them to release the game at a lower cost, and without microtransactions. In other games, having such obviously placed ads might be intrusive, but in this game, they’re just billboards on the side of the road – something I see every day when I get in my car and go somewhere. It fits.
Burnout Paradise also brings a sense of nostalgia, not just because it is a game I played when I was younger, but the soundtrack. The soundtrack to this game is incredibly well done. Since the game takes place in Paradise City, the title song is, obviously, Guns n Roses’s “Paradise City”. You hear that as soon as you boot up the game, and it immediately puts you in the right kind of mood. The rest of the soundtrack takes you back to the mid-2000s. There are few feelings greater in the world than racing through a city at high speed, getting on a ramp and flying off, landing on top of another car to perform a “takedown”, while Avril Lavigne belts out “HEY HEY YOU YOU I DON’T LIKE YOUR GIRLFRIEND”.
For me, a racing game is well made if you can just drive around, and then all of a sudden an hour has gone by. Burnout Paradise is that game. It’s a game like Sid Meier’s Civilization – you always have to take “one more turn”. In my opinion, racing games, namely Forza Horizon 3, have come very close, but none capture the signature element that comes with a Burnout game: the crashes.