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Burnout Paradise Remastered

Platform(s): Nintendo Switch, PC, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360, Xbox One
Genre: Racing
Release Date: March 16, 2018

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PS4 Review - 'Burnout Paradise Remastered'

by Michael Keener on April 2, 2018 @ 1:15 a.m. PDT

Burnout Paradise gives players license to wreak havoc in Paradise City, the ultimate seamless racing battleground, with a massive infrastructure of traffic-heavy roads to abuse.

Buy Burnout Paradise Remastered

While the concept of a "remaster" is now a little convoluted in video game development, Burnout Paradise Remastered focuses on taking the original, tossing a fresh coat of paint on everything, increasing the frame rate, and packaging all of the previously released DLC into a nice little package. Burnout Paradise was released back in 2008, and the remaster was released this year to celebrate the title's 10th anniversary. It originally came out for the Xbox 360, PS3, and PC. You can still find it on these systems for about $5 at a local thrift store and $50 to buy the old consoles again, or you can pay $40 to play it on the current-gen platforms: PS4, Xbox One and PC.

Burnout Paradise feels like one of the last greats of the genre. Sometimes, games like Forza and F1 Racing simulators get boring because you're racing on tracks and there aren't any driver antics. To succeed, you're forced to conform to a specific style of racing. At the other end of the spectrum, there are random indie titles that try to make a great arcade experience but fail due to childish graphics and an uninspiring story. The latest Need for Speed tried to achieve the perfect middle ground that would work universally for all types of racing fans. The intense gameplay walked the line between realistic and badass.  I enjoyed it, but something always felt just off, but I never knew why until I played Burnout Paradise Remastered.

There isn't a beefed-up story that took half of the development budget to cast and direct. Burnout Paradise drops you into the city to do what you want, but that is both good and bad. Upon loading up the game, you're given a brief introduction to the moderately sized city and the significant locations within it. There are six places that act as finish lines for majority of your races, and knowing where they are and how to get there the quickest determines if you finish first or last. This is a cool aspect to gameplay in the sense that you'll see dramatic improvements in your racing as you master the layout of the city. The downside is that a few of the locations traverse the same stretches of highway.

Races are not always a one-way race from Point A to Point B; they'll sometimes throw you into a battle for your life. Marked Man races require racing to a specified location while an onslaught of blacked-out vehicles try to take you down. You can drive aggressively and take them out first, or you can frantically dodge them. It's a fun mode until you pause to look at your map — only to return to the game and experience a head-on collision. The AI could stand to be more aggressive and try to drive me off the road instead of driving alongside and occasionally sideswiping me.

Another race type is Road Rage, where the goal is to take down as many vehicles in a set amount of time. For every successful takedown, time is added to the clock. Keep taking other drivers down until you've reached the target number. If you want to make the most of the stunt driving in the game, you can set out to crash through the red billboards and yellow fences that are strategically placed around the map. You could participate in Stunt Runs, where the objective is to pull off as many barrel rolls, jumps, flat spins, etc., on your way to the objective. You may already be doing this, but in these events, you're measured and rewarded for it. Pulling up to a red light and performing a burnout can trigger various events. It's a subtle feature that takes a lot of complication out of the process of starting another race. Almost every intersection has an event.

The more you race and the better you perform, the more you'll progress to leveling up your driver's license. Upgraded licenses allow you to participate in more extreme versions of the race types. The one super cool feature is that when you're starting your career, you can take a picture for the license. If you have a PlayStation camera, just put your face up to it and snap the shot with the controller. It was another small touch that makes it personal enough so you're more immersed in the experience.

The previously released DLC is seamlessly integrated into the game, including Big Surf Island, which is a bridge away from Paradise City. On the island, players can find more events, huge jumps, and more vehicles. It blends perfectly with Paradise City, and if you didn't know that it was an expansion, you wouldn't be able to tell. The same goes for all of the cars you'll find in the game; many of them came in DLC, but when blended together, they feel like a unified library. There are over a hundred vehicles, and many of them are unlocked from the very beginning. The rest need to be unlocked as you win events or progress through the driver's license classes. If you like motorcycles, there are dozens of those to drive around, but until you know the layout of the city, they're certain to have you crashing everywhere.

You can play online with up to several people. I'm more of a solo racer, so I didn't spend much time taking down strangers, but the option is there if that's your cup of tea. It's not difficult to find a lobby. The best thing to do is to play with friends who also are willing to purchase the game. You can find numerous people in the game's community on PS4, or join one of the many online forums where players meet and play. You'll often find people looking to team up and complete challenges, which are very difficult. However, once people complete the challenges, they may not be interested to help you do the same.

There are some amazing graphical differences between this remastered version and the original release 10 years ago. Granted, the game was not rebuilt from the ground up, but it takes some nitpicking to find the visual flaws. If you take a quick look at comparison pictures from the PS3 to the PS4, you'll notice how the environment has been cleaned up. Graffiti-covered walls go from Vincent can Gogh's "The Starry Night" painting on the PS3 to recognizable words and crew tags on the remastered version. Cars are cleaned up to better resemble a game developed today, but forget about seeing raindrops sliding off the bumpers. Due to the almost tropical setting, don't expect to see any weather-related bells and whistles in the game. It's always sunny in Paradise City. While there are no noticeable differences to the lighting effects, the emphasis on shadows presents the illusion of their existence. This is the key to the graphical improvements, as shadows have been darker in an effort to create stronger contrast, and many of the vehicles and structures around the map have bolder shades of black.

The soundtrack is the same as it was, but it feels like the cars have received some additional strength in their growls. The cars rev, roar, and screech around every corner with a great amount of power that you can feel and see. Each car sounds just different enough to enhance immersion, but similar enough that you know it's an old game. The soundtrack, which is one of the best and worst parts of the game, will arguably have an effect on your decision to purchase the game. If you want to hop into a time machine to hear rock music from the '80s and '90s, then you'll be happy to find songs like Guns N' Roses' "Paradise City" or "I Wanna Rock" by Twisted Sister. Basically, the soundtrack for the old Guitar Hero games can be found here. If that's not your cup of tea, prepare to pull out your iPod or load Spotify in the background. The soundtrack works very well with the game's theme and setting, so give it a try before dismissing it.

The game was not perfect back in 2008, and although it's not perfect now, it's pretty amazing. I'm not a fan of the camera and the inability to adjust it. When you turn the right analog stick right, it looks left. When you turn the right analog stick left, it turns right. It's inverted in the perspective of the driver's head, and it was awkward to adjust to again. I looked in the settings for a way to change it but couldn't find the option.

Another slap on the wrist for the game is the lack of access to the map while driving. Many games today allow a way to quickly pull up the map and get rid of it. In Burnout Paradise, it's a process that likely causes you to crash when you return to the gameplay. There are no arrow markers to assist you around the map, but there's a compass at the very top and an indicator that tells you the street name that you need to turn on next. After you adjust to the way everything functions and you start memorizing the map, these complaints become almost nonexistent, but they impose a bit of a learning curve, even if you played the game 10 years ago.

My last complaint is with the $40 price tag, which is a bit pricey for some graphical upgrades and repackaging. It's priced for nostalgia enthusiasts who are eager to experience it all again, and it'll surely be on a generous sale soon for the remaining audience of gamers.

My few complaints with Burnout Paradise Remastered are minor. They're mostly about the beginning, when you need to learn the way it functions, and the very end, when repetition may start to wear you down. It's both good and bad because nobody wants to play a game that's too easy to master or too difficult to learn. The pride and joy is in the chaotic driving that resembles a realistic world but doesn't sacrifice the fun that comes with doing a 50-foot-high barrel role through a big red billboard. If you have extremely fond memories of joyriding in Paradise City, there's nothing more you can ask for in Burnout Paradise Remastered. The improvements are generous, but after 10 years, the core that everyone loves is still structurally sound. It's good to see great games being revived and made available for today's platforms.

Score: 8.5/10

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