Burnout Paradise Review

12 02 2008

Criterion Games, a European developer, has held a unique niche in the racing genre of video games, they redefined the “racing” concept, rewarding not only fast times and precision driving, but wanton destruction and win-by-any-means gameplay. From the first Burnout game, the series has been about winning at all costs, Paradise does not deviate greatly from this formula, but there are some noteworthy changes. First off, in previous games online multiplayer consisted of races on a set and defined track, in the Paradise installment, multiplayer races are free roam based, once the race starts you can take any route you want to get to the goal. Also, Crash mode, a popular mode rewarding players for total damage inflicted on traffic, has been removed and replaced with the liked and disliked Showtime mode. Paradise strips away the confined “tracks” of other racers to replace it with a massive free-roam experience, free of loading times and transition screens.

Paradise city, it’s big, it’s beautiful, and it’s all yours. From the moment you get your first set of wheel’s to the end of the game, you can go anywhere, do anything, and engage in an impressive host of race-types. There is your standard “Point-A to Point-B” race, the classic TakeDown Races (In which you attempt to run a given number of rivals off the road), and three brand new, unique gametypes, Burning Route, Marked Man, and Stunt Run. Burning Route races are car-specific, it’s essentially a timed race against the clock from point-a to point-b, if you beat the clock, you unlock a retooled version of the car, some may have greater boost capabilities, while others may have a higher top-end. Marked Man is an interesting mode, it’s a linear race, again from here to there, there is no timer, and no opponents, you just have to get there alive. An endless amount of big black sedans will attempt to smash, crash, and slam you into a fine powder en route to your objective. You can opt for an Aggression car, and fight back, or you can try something quicker and try and out maneuver them. Stunt Runs start you at a given location, with a point goal, you can reach this by doing stunts (way complicated right?), including Big Air, smashing through billboards, barrel rolls, flat spins, drifting and boosting. Every time you land a huge jump, pull off a barrel roll, or smash a sign, you get a +1 to your overall run multiplier, these add up quick allowing you to rack up the points. Just don’t crash, if you do you lose your multiplier and your current point total is added to your “bank” of points towards your goal.

Various shops are scattered around the city, there are mechanic shops, fuel stations, paint shops, and junk yards. Repair shops, allow a mid-race or mid-roam quick-fix if your car has taken a few hits, paint shops allow you to change your color on the fly, and fuel stations refill your boost instantaneously. Try to incorporate these shops in your racing routes for maximum effect, that extra boost bar can make a difference between first and last. Junk Yards are the place to be when you want a new ride, any car you’ve taken down in free-roam, or unlocked in races, will be hear waiting for you. Just drive in and pick up your new wheels.

Let’s talk cars, the meat of any racer, sure you can have good tracks and modes, but everyone knows it’s all about your ride. There are three car classes in Burnout Paradise, Stunt, Race, and Aggression. Stunt cars are tailored towards stunts (shocking), being more agile and easier to control mid-flight, you get anything from old muscle cars to tuners. Speed cars, are your Ferrari’s and Lamborghinis, best on the open road, they can achieve a “Burnout” which refills your boost meter instantly, you can theoretically keep boosting all the way through a race (assuming you don’t hit anything, and keep pulling off drifts and near-misses). Aggression cars are the tanks of Burnout, these are suited for Takedown, and Marked Man races, these guys can take tons of damage and dish it out tenfold, cars in this category are typically, SUV’s, Trucks, and Old-School muscle. Each car can be painted in the Junkyard, and each has three different design schemes, three paint types (metallic, gloss, and pearlescent), and about 12 colors. Throughout the single player campaign after you complete a certain number of races a car will be spotted racing through Paradise city, if you come across it in a race or free-roam, take it out to add it to your junkyard.

It’s Showtime! Showtime mode, is the Paradise replacement for Crash mode, you can initiate Showtime at any time when free-roaming (even during a race), by hitting the LB and RB buttons simultaneously. Once you initiate Showtime Mode, your car bounces skyward, and all the traffic cars are given a dollar value. The more cars you hit the more “Ground Break” you get, by tapping A you can cause your car to bounce off the ground and fly whatever direction your pushing the L-Stick at. Busses can be hit, and will give a X1 multiplier to your overall score, this is where the big money is at. The farther you bounce and smash your way down the road, the higher your distance bonus will be, $100 for every yard travelled. Every ten cars you hit you get a large chunk of your boost meter restored, when you hit a car, any car that it hits counts towards your score, so aim for those four-way intersections. The Time Road Rules function allows you to attempt to set a time trial record for any road in Paradise city, simply drive onto the road from one end and head towards the other.

You start out as a D-Class License holder, the more races you win the more you rank up, from D to C, from C to B, from B to A, and finally from A-class, to your Burnout License. To take it another step further, complete all races and all challenges, and you’ll achieve the Elite License, which unlocks gold and platinum plated color schemes for all your rides. Keep in mind though, the races increase in difficulty the more you do them, so it’s going to be a lot harder on your last race than your first.

If you want to take the race online, all you have to do is join a Freeburn match, all accessed from the D-pad right menu. There’s no loading times, and no change in the surrounding (except for the addition of other racers). Once in a Freeburn match you can organize races, challenge each other with the Today’s Best leaderboards (jump distance, barrel-rolls, etc.), or partner up for one of the many Freeburn Challenges. Ranging from jumping onto a rooftop, to barrel-rolling over each other, these challenges require teamwork, and add a whole other level to online racing.

+Online racing is a button press away

+Free-roaming, Showtime anywhere

+Lots of cars

– No Takedown races online

? Why can you 101% clear the game


Graphics: 9/10 This game has amazing real-time deformation, you can watch your car literally crunch and crumple in on itself in stylized slow-mo crashes.

Sound: 9/10 The sound effects are superb, glass shattering, metal crunching, and tires bouncing, the soundtrack selection is great for techno/rave fans, only a few rock songs are included.

Gameplay: 8.5/10 This game truly revolutionized the racing genre, it tore down walls and barriers, and added unparalleled connectivity and instant entertainment. However, you can only rehash the same race so many times before it starts to grow stale.

Overall: 8.5/10 A few things seem to be missing, but future patches and DLC will keep the experience fresh for a long time.


Turok Multiplayer Micro Review

11 02 2008

Turok is a game of many options, you can knife, snipe, tag, headshot, ventilate, penetrate and eviscerate foes on your way to victory, multiplayer is and always will be a very deciding factor in my opinion of a game. That all being said, the 5 games of Turok I have played have been incredibly fun. I played on two maps and with 2 game types, Free-for-all, and CTF (Team). I immensely enjoyed the sniping in this game, not because of the sniper rifle itself, but for the many options you have to defend your sniper perch. Whiskey soldiers got you down? Raptors getting too close for comfort, never fear, you can throw down a Mini-gun turret, lay exploding mines, shoot a flare away from your position, or use the remote-detonated bombs to add a little “flare” to the game. During my far to short bout of multiplayer gaming, I put to test a few rumours circulating around the forums.

1) Everyone just stands around and gets knife kills
FALSE: Only once did I see someone wait around a knife-kill-in-progress to mop up the survivor.

2) It takes a bazillion bullets to kill someone!
FALSE: There is no auto-aim in this game, for someone accustomed to Halo or Call of Duty, (as myself) it’s a rocky transition, you *can* kill someone with one or two headshots from an SMG, whether you actually pull it off is another matter.

3) The game is way too fast/slow
False/True, In my opinion the game is perfectly paced, it’s moderately fast, yet slow enough to yield some heart-pounding stealth experiences. Take my opinion with a grain of salt, not everyone likes games fast, or vice-a-versa. It’s kind of a mix between Halo, Call of Duty 4, and Splinter Cell. Figure that comes out to be a Haldutysplincell gameplay.

Overall here’s the score (out of 10)
Graphics: 8/10, multiplayer suffers a little, but the animations are fluid and life-like

Sound: 9/10 Excellent sound, really grate with a surround system, crank it up!

Gameplay: 8/10 Turok seems to stay with it’s roots, no real new innovations, still as fun as any shooter on the market. (Plus, common…. DINOSAURS!)

Overall: 8.5/10

It’s not the best game out there, but you get your money’s worth, if you’re a fan of dino-killing, back-stabbing, and meat-fountains, give Turok a try.