It’s been 10 years since we had our first tour of the sights and sounds of Paradise City, and those were pretty much screaming engines alongside the squeal of tortured metal and the smashing of glass. Day one purchasers were treated to a full open world playground that was designed to let 75 selectable vehicles drift, jump and crash along open highways and tight mountain roads; and then were given the option of 75 more cars and bikes, new areas and updates to the world over the following 12 months. Fans of the series were initially perplexed by the change in direction, but it didn’t take long to get to grips with it, including the oh-so-easy to access online features. It was smooth, seamless and satisfying however it was played. Now it’s back for the latest generation with a few nips and tucks to mask it’s true age, but has Burnout Paradise Remastered survived the ravages of time?
What comes in Burnout Paradise Remastered is the full game with all the content ever released over its lifetime. This is all 150 vehicles including the Legendary and Toy cars, the bikes add on, the day/night cycle (available right from the beginning), Big Surf Island, the Cops and Robbers online mode, the Party pack, and the Cagney update that brought in new community features. It’s a huge amount of content that will fill even the most hardcore gamer’s time. Don’t be fooled into thinking that this is simply a racing game though. Whilst anyone familiar with Burnout would know there’s a lot of fighting for the lead and ramming your opponents into oncoming traffic, Paradise introduced new events like stunt runs, as well as the online challenges to tackle as a team of up to 8 racers. At its heart, this is more of an RPG than a racing game: there are secrets to find, places to explore, level up with a license, and improve your kit by finding new ones out in the world. Not that it really feels like it, it’s just high octane fun as you’re steadily becoming the dominator of the city.
Grab a car from a local junkyard, fix it up and pull up at a junction – that’s all that’s needed to get started in Burnout Paradise Remastered. Most intersections have an event linked to them and it’s simply a case of hitting both triggers to get the action going. With 8 key destinations around the city that races terminate at, the game guides players into learning the routes between all of them which makes the whole free choice of route problem much easier to manage. You can pick any way of getting to the end, and in the first few events it’ll be quite forgiving, but you need to pay attention because as the licence levels are increased you’re expected to be more familiar with the layout. The same goes for Marked Man, only make sure you’ve a sturdy chassis because there are some mean opponents aiming to force you off the road. Stunt Runs and Road Rages don’t have prescribed routes, they’re just frantic dashes to either rack up a huge score or smash as many opponents to pieces as possible, but having a little local knowledge can go a long way.
Aside from the content, the remaster also brings a rock solid 60 frames per second, 4K output for the beefier consoles and improvements to textures, shadowing and reflections. It might not be obvious to begin with, especially if you’ve not played in a decade, but it is a better looking game. Yet it retains the distinct style of the original, so those expecting a radically different city might be a bit disappointed. Does that really matter though? Most of the time in Paradise is spent at full throttle and maximum boost, not the ideal conditions for checking out the fine detail on the buildings. The area that does get a lot of scrutiny is when metal crumples and glass fractures during a collision. There doesn’t seem to be a significant change to the effects or number of particles, which I would have liked to see, even though it’s still impressive to see the shockwave travel from the point of impact through the body of the car, causing destruction along its path. It’s similar with the takedown options – and it’s possibly a mis-remember from me – but I thought there was more variety in the number of different ways of incapacitating other racers. It’s still gratifying to pull off a deliberate move that sees a challenger punted into a brick wall, and more so if you’re getting revenge for a move earlier on.
Crash mode makes a return too, though in a reworked format that fits with the open world aesthetic. Each road is named and has a challenge for biggest crash score and fastest time, both offline and online. At any point in free drive hitting both shoulder buttons causes your car to flip and go into slow motion whilst giving you aftertouch in order to guide the wreck around. The boost gauge turns into a ground break that punts you back into the air when you come to rest. Hit as many vehicles as you can, as well as signs and other objects that might pull in a multiplier, and try to outscore everyone else. Getting the quickest time on a road (and therefore owning it) is simply a case of heading on to it at high speed and making it to the end faster than anyone has gone before. It’s simple but effective. With everything passing at breakneck speed, the game manages to break this up by getting you looking for numerous jumps and collectables… basically, if it’s flashing yellow, blue or red, go and have a look and smash it. There’s so much more than just racing from a start point to a finish line.
If Burnout Paradise Remastered doesn’t have enough for you in single player then press a d-pad button and take yourself online where you can do the same events with a whole host of legends, or team up with friends and tackle specific challenges. The instant transition to online really does open up the game to a new way of playing that many other racing titles struggle with. Even though it’ll take a while to get through the offline content, online is where the longevity of this game is, and no matter how many times you get in a group and go after a target, it doesn’t get boring or stale. The size of the world (whilst not massive) is densely packed, and the random placement of traffic combines with the unpredictable styles of each gamer and produces an experience that’s different every time you boot it up.
Should you buy Burnout Paradise Remastered though? Yes, absolutely. If you’ve got it on the last generation there’s a decent chance you’ve not played it in ages and the servers won’t be as well populated as they were… plus you’re not seeing it at it’s best now there’s an enhanced version out. If you’re new then it’s a no-brainer because you missed out on one of the finest racing games there’s ever been. Purists will argue that the games earlier in the series were the better ones, but Paradise refined the gameplay and nailed the fun aspect of an open world driving game. Also, this is probably the last Burnout game that will be released. Criterion Games were partially shuttered a few years ago, and even though they live on in one form, the soul of the team have moved elsewhere. It’s stood the test of time in the gameplay (if not all of the music), DJ Atomika is present and correct and is surprisingly effective as a guide, and it’s just so damn more-ish. This is an essential game that’s accessible for everyone, don’t miss out (again).
Burnout Paradise Remastered is available now on Xbox One and PS4, and is in the region of £30 – £35 depending on where you’re buying from.