Harrison shall take a nostalgic (sort of) look back at latest prodigal sons of the generally awesome Criterion Games, Burnout Paradise. So how will the sequel to Revenge stack up...The answer...Very well.
Right from the get go, this game visually is fantastic. For an area as big as Paradise City, the different environments you end up in are great. From the cliff-tops in White Mountain, to the packed and busy Downtown area, to the Cowboy ranches and Villages, and the construction areas and the highways. You can tell a lot of time and effort was put into how the game looked, and Criterion have done a fantastic job. Haven't put a foot wrong. And some of the Billboards are really funny...Crashbreaker Laxatives anyone?
Criterion have 2 things here...They've made it brilliant, but at the same time has shot itself in the foot. Some of the songs in the game are fantastic. I mean, the opening tune is Paradise City by Guns And Roses, which is freaking awesome. Other Rocky stuff features which is cool, but why did Criterion think it would be a good idea to stick half the playlist full of classical music? Really doesn't suit the game at all, and really hurts it, because all the sound effects and slow motion are great. *sighs* - So nearly there...WHY?
And DJ Atomika is fairly lame and obnoxious as a voice-over.
Criterion have slowly been developing their Burnout games, but this has taken a steeper difficulty curve than a Ridge Racer game. Now Cars are split into 3 Boost Categories, Speed (The Usual Really), Aggression (You can guess), and Stunt (Gained for stuff like Spinning, Rolls, Airtime and other tricky activities). Paradise City itself is huge. Easily take you 15 Minutes to drive from one end of it to the other if you don't boost. Overall the place is well over 500 Miles worth of roads. The racing itself if just as fast as previous Burnout Incarnations, which is good. But finally added is that Free-Roam ability that this game needed. Badly. Basically, you roll up to any traffic light, spin your wheels and you're ready to race. Few new modes as well, such as Marked Man (Survival as you race while other heavier cars try and stop you), and Stunt Run (You trying to do dangerous things to gain points, such as Boosting, Jumping, Handbrake Turns, Barrel Rolls, Spins, etc.) While the usual Racing, Road Rage and Time Trials are all back from previous games.
However, gone is Crash Mode, which has now been replaced by Showtime, which you can enter at any time, but tapping the bumpers. You then use boost to hit as many cars as possible, to keep chaining boost for as long as possible, racking up multipliers and earning as much points as possible. I like, but I think with the environment that the game is in (loads of jumps, gaps, and places to catch air), Crash Mode would have suited it better.
Overall, this game is massive, and is very nice to play, but it does have a few flaws, which I'll get too now...
To progress in the game, you need to win a set number of events, upgrading your License. There are 120 different events, but they all reset when you get a new one, which makes it, sort of pointless having so many up there to begin with, unless you want to go for the Ultimate Elite License, in which you HAVE to play through all 120 Events. It's fun, but it does get repetitive when you there's a chance you'll do the same events 5 or 6 times.
Otherwise, this game is HUGE. You'll spend around 50 Hours beating all 120 Events, beating every Road Rule (64), as well as finding all the Billboards (120), Smashes (500) and Super Jumps (50).
And there's also 500 Online Challenges, which can be done with up to 7 other people. Multiplayer online overall is excellent. With a ton of potential things to do, there's easily another 100+ Hours of gameplay possible to do all 500 Challenges. Obviously this can have it's problems, such as disloyal players, but that shouldn't be taken away from the game.
The Downloadable Content, The Party Pack, Cops and Robbers and Big Surf Island are also excellent additions, really adding to the Playability of this game. It's one of the most complete experiences online out there today still...And this game is 18 Months Old.
Most of the achievements are well valued, and reward you nicely for moving up in licenses. Also, there's a good mix of difficulty, collectibles, fun, and multiplayer achievements. You'll need to be racking up around 50 Hours to get the full 1,000, so it's certainly achieveable, with some elbow grease. However, you need a Live Vision Camera in order to get every achievement. Which isn't so great.
This until very recently was the most complete racing game out there (Good old Forza 3 now). Burnout Paradise is an incredibly fun pick up and play racing game, that if you put the hours in, you shall reap the very nice rewards. Just get rid of the fricking Bach and Mozart Criterion, Kay? ;)
Presentation: 9.5/10 - Incredible
Generally speaking, the physics of the cars and the look of the place is amazing, the menus are simple, and easy to navigate as well.
Graphics: 9/10 - Outstanding
Surprised most of the effects don't lose their edge at 200 MPH...And the on-board look is amazing edgy. Just the actual traffic cars stop it from a higher rating.
Sound: 7.5/10 - Impressive
Half the playlist is brilliant, the other, makes no sense. Shame really. And DJ Atomika doesn't help, he gets irritating fast.
Gameplay: 9.5/10 - Incredible
It plays brilliantly well, the new modes are awesome. Online play is very smooth and there is no lag whatsoever. Very impressive on the whole.
Lasting Appeal: 10/10 - Masterful
You'll be playing this game. A lot. This is my most played 360 Game, I've played it for nearly 300 Hours. The Multiplayer Challenges and the generous achievements are a massive incentive to keep playing. Trust me.
Overall: 9.1/10 - Outstanding