I’ve gotten a little spare time lately (I know, it’s amazing) to actually play a game for the first time in months. I decided I wanted to purchase Burnout Paradise. For those of you who haven’t played burnout games, you’re stuck driving a car, hence burnout, and you have the option of doing several things with this car: you can straight up race, drift, do takedowns where the object is to destroy a set number of opponents without being destroyed yourself, perform stunts for points, be a marked man where you need to get to a destination without being taken down, make a crash for points depending on the level of your destruction, or do a time run. Being destroyed ends any run you were making, but you can repair at a garage to prevent this from happening (you actually have a set number of lives, or crashes, and being repaired restores them.) Cars have different types that give you more ‘boost’, or NOS, for different things (takedowns, stunts, ect.) You swap cars at the junkyard, and get them by winning them or taking them down off the street. Your progress is measured by license class, which can be upgraded with wins.
All your options are selected by driving to them. Challenges are started by burning out at stoplights, and garages, gas stations (restore boost), paintshops, and junkyards are used by driving through an open area in the building. As you drive around, there ate also goals you can complete: crashing through signs, busting down barricades, hitting jumps, and taking down other racers to get their cars. Many stretches of the course also have times, and you can try to beat your record driving around.
The graphics for the active cars are amazing. I run on a high graphics level, since my t400 doesn’t seem to mind. The models look good, the the active lighting adjusts to the car’s damage. The cars are smooth, and pleasing to the eye. They do not look chunky, blocky, or blurred. The levels, however, leave a bit to be desired. The designs are complex and fun to drive, but the graphics are simple. The non-racing vehicles seem to be made of rounded off Legos, the buildings are simple shapes, and the terrain, although smooth, is rather bland in places. The textures aren’t much better than RTC3 (for those of you who have played it.)
This is where the game just rocks. The driving is exciting, the competition is dynamic, and the routes are interesting. It can by easy to lose or win a race by changing your route, but sometimes the computer changes its too. The different race types keep you from getting bored, and the active level design allows the between-race driving to keep players entertained. There are always secrets and shortcuts to be found, and sometimes it’s just fun to drive around as fast as you can without crashing. If I had the time, I’d probably play it for hours on end like my brother does.
This is where the game just sucks. It’s almost like they ran out of time and money to finish them. The menus have you chose you car type, play the game, and set up your license. Menus are slow (same speed on my Windows 7 lappy as my brother’s quad-core Vista desktop. It’s detailed specs really are impressive, but I’m not going into that, it can play burnout fine.) They are clunky. You can set up your graphics adapter, detail, resolution, monitor number, up to 2x anti-aliasing, and webcam on a menu outside of the game. There is a custom quality level with no mention of what it is. Once in game, you can press escape to get to more option with f1/f2, but they take forever. If any computer could get to them at a half decent speed, they’d be ok to use. I also don’t find any mention of more than two camera views, or a standard transmission, but I won’t worry too much about that. I actually had to look up online where to find these menus, since I tried f2 and then quit before it rendered them, thinking it hadn’t worked. It does auto-save, so alt-f4 has become the easiest way to quit the game.
Overall I liked the game. I’d say it was worth my money, but probably not for the casual driver. Far from a standard racing game, or even a standard street racing game, I think this will be a good addition to my collection. Now if they’d just add-in cops…