Burnout Paradise Hands-On Preview
Xbox 360 | PS3
Burnout Paradise box art
System: PS3, X360 Review Rating Legend
Dev: Criterion Games 1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid 4.0 - 4.4 = Great
Pub: EA Games 2.0 - 2.4 = Poor 4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy
Release: Jan. 22, 2007 2.5 - 2.9 = Average 5.0 = The Best
Players: 1-2 3.0 - 3.4 = Fair
ESRB Rating: Everyone 10+ 3.5 - 3.9 = Good
A Small Taste of a Big Burn!

by Amanda L. Kondolojy

December 17, 2007 - Burnout has been one of the most successful vehicular franchises since it's induction in 2001 on the PlayStation 2. It's one of the rare series that was able to retain the same formula that it gave us nearly seven incarnations ago. However, it's made enough steady improvements over the years to keep itself fresh and updated. Now the Burnout franchise returns to the Xbox 360 and the PlayStation 3 with its newest entry, tentatively titled "Burnout Paradise"

Burnout Paradise screenshot

I've known for quite some time that Burnout: Paradise was going to be awesome. Call it pure speculation or gamer's intuition, but from the moment we first got details on this hot upcoming title, I was impressed with the great strides the series was making in terms of gameplay. The expansion of the overall game experience, including the incorporation of an open-world system and the less-structured event experience, all sounded like positive steps for the newest itineration of the Burnout series. The word "hyped" did not begin to cover the enthusiasm I had awaiting this game. I knew it would be a difficult few months to wait for this one, but I was ready to endure it.

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Recently, I was able to assuage some of the pain with a surprisingly deep demo made available on Xbox Live and the PlayStation Network. While most demos give you a time limit with which to play or give you a small linear sampling of gameplay, this demo really gives you insight into how every facet of this game will work. It features a small section of the open world in which you can explore, compete in challenges, and even play online. This small segment of a larger crossed off map looks to be about 10% of the entire map that will be available in the full version of the game. So needless to say, you can spend a lot of time exploring the different areas, discovering different routes, and causing general mayhem for the upstanding drivers who have the misfortune to drive on the same road as you.

Burnout Paradise screenshot

As I've said before, the main draw of Burnout: Paradise will be its open-world system. You'll be able to drive around and discover new challenges and gameplay options as you progress through the game. All of the events in the game will take place on the same map, so it helps to drive around a bit to get a feel for the area, and where major landmarks, shortcuts, ramps, and other noteworthy objects are. The demo gives you plenty to explore, so you could easily spend an hour or so just driving around the map and learning about your surroundings.

Once you become well acquainted with where you are, you can find challenges. Challenges will appear on your map and will be available at different stoplights. You start off with only one challenge in the demo, but you can unlock more as you go along. Challenges include a race, burning lap, and the all-new stunt challenge. The race challenge, as you might expect, involves the player and a number of A.I. opponents all vying to reach the finish first. Burning lap is also a very predictable challenge that entails getting from one spot on the map to another. This challenge is one of those that definitely require a working knowledge of the map and several shortcuts, as there is no way to complete it without cutting quite a few corners.

The new mode, stunt mode, plays a lot like the various other destructive modes from previous Burnout titles, but it's not as easy as some in previous titles. While other modes gave you buku points for things like driving on the wrong side of the road and near-misses, Burnout: Paradise ups the ante. You'll have to perform jumps, barrel rolls, and perform high-level takedowns in order to score points in stunt mode. And since the demo's stunt challenge sets the bar high at a cool 50,000 points, you'll definitely have to work to gain some momentum in this mode. Even Burnout veterans may have to go through Stunt mode a few times to get the hang of all the new features and ways in which you can score points.

Although exploring the map and playing in the various challenges offered by the demo is extremely fun, they're not the centerpiece of the demo. The best part of the Burnout: Paradise demo has to be the online functionality. The sneak peek into how the online mode will work with the open world system is a definite boon for the demo because the online integration is seamless. You can pull up an online menu while you are driving around with just the touch of a button and decide on a specific online mode to join, and then you can decide whether you want to create a new game or join one already in progress. Once you decide on the mode, then you drive around the open world, bumping into opponents and causing destruction until the game leader decides on a challenge.

Burnout Paradise screenshot

Although there are many more online modes promised, the demo only gives us insight into the FreeBurn mode, which includes both cooperative and competitive challenges. Among these is a challenge that tests your ability to get to a certain landmark by way of driving off a ramp on top of a parking garage and a challenge that has you smashing billboard signs. Sound fun yet? Online play also lets you crash into things and takedown other players, even if the challenge is cooperative. So no matter what, you are assured to have a great experience in online multiplayer.

Besides the awesomely fun gameplay, it's worth noting that the graphics in this game look pretty sweet. Cars and locales come to life in extremely vivid detail, and the whole thing just looks smooth and clean. That is, until you get to the crashes. The crashes look decidedly messy, and trust me, this is a good thing. Picture this: you're barreling toward an oncoming bus, your car will slow down, and the colors wash out. You lose control over the car and can sit back and watch as your car gets demolished by the bus. Pieces of your car fly everywhere, as your hood crumples like a tin can from the force of the bus. Your windows are almost immediately smashed out, and by the end of the whole process, your crash has resulted in four or five other cars losing control. You've just become the source of a major traffic situation. Not to mention, your car looks like a smashed cola can. You have a few precious seconds to wallow in your ultimate destructive powers. Then the game goes back into full color and your car re-appears, unscathed as if nothing ever happened. Yes, the crashes in Burnout: Paradise are magic. They look absolutely amazing and provide just the right amount of detailed crash mechanics to make an impression on even the most hardcore Burnout fan.

The Burnout: Paradise demo is expansive to say the least. There's so much to do and explore that this demo just may be enough to tide us all over until next month when we finally will get our hands on the real thing. With a large portion of the game's map to discover, different challenges to try out, and online modes to explore, you'll have plenty of time to hone your skills and become a Burnout master!

By Amanda L. Kondolojy
CCC Freelance Writer

Features:

  • Explore Paradise - From big-surf beach to downtown gridlock, there's over 30 square kilometers of the ultimate driving playground to explore from the get-go. Nothing is blocked off.
  • Burnout Your Way - Just pull up to over 120 stoplights and spin your wheels to start one of five different events - the classic Race, Road Rage and Burning Route, and the all-new Stunt Run and Marked Man games.
  • Instant Online - Burnout Paradise sets the new standard in online social gameplay. See your friends online with the Easy Drive Friends List and connect with them instantly without having to wait or exit your game.
  • Team up or Takedown - Join forces with up to seven of your buddies to beat hundreds of online FreeBurn Challenges together or heat up the competition and go head-to-head in user created race routes.

  • Screenshots / Images
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