As the moonlight gleams over the road ahead, you slam down the accelerator, picking up speed. The dulcet tones of Debussy’s Clair de Lune providing a calm and strange atmosphere as you shunt a fellow racer hard into a wall, absolutely destroying their car in the process. Shards of metal and tyres fly in different direction as you boost away into the lead, racing towards the finish line.
It has been twelve years since we were first introduced to Burnout Paradise, the culmination of Criterion Games’ work on the Burnout series, and a franchise that has been sorely missed. After a remaster for modern consoles, the game has finally found its way onto the Nintendo Switch, bringing the expansive racing world of Paradise City directly into your hands.
In case you’ve missed it, Burnout Paradise is all about carnage – high speed racing, dangerous driving, and brutal takedowns. The crazier you drive, the faster you fill up your boost meter – but beware, because if you lose control and bite it, your car will be completely wrecked. Burnout has always been about driving on the edge and being as reckless as possible to win the race, and with a ton of different race modes there is something that caters for all tastes.
Additionally, the game adds different car classes which charge boost in different ways; for instance, the Stunt class charges boost by performing crazy stunts, while the Aggression class gets boost by slamming opponents into walls. The downside to this is that the game’s progression is stunted by the fact that the DLC packs which were available after some time on the original release are instantly accessible; even though it is kinda cool to cruise around in knockoff versions of the Back To The Future DeLorean or the ECTO-1 from Ghostbusters. You can still unlock the remainder of the cars through standard progression but having over half of the car library available from the get-go takes away a bit of the fun of working your way up from the bottom, through the ranks and obtaining new licenses.
Driving around to find the different game modes is still good though, and if you’re lucky you might run into a car roaming the streets that you haven’t yet added to your collection to take down. The motorbikes even made it through, though these take a bit of getting used to after driving around in a car for a while. Those who remember Burnout Paradise’s eclectic soundtrack mix of rock anthems and classical music will not be disappointed to find that the song library has made its way over to the Switch as well – and I have to say, there is nothing like bopping along to “Girlfriend” by Avril Lavigne while driving on the wrong side of the road and bashing opponents into walls. What? Don’t look at me like that.
Running on the Switch takes a fair bit of power even for a twelve-year-old remastered game, but thankfully the tweaks and updates keep it looking pretty slick. It holds itself at a solid 60fps in both docked and handheld modes, and while playing on a TV is always going to yield better results, sometimes the screen is a tad too small for what you’re actually doing. Roaring along at ultra-high speeds with scenery rushing by, I commonly found myself missing turns or shortcuts purely based on the fact that things were just too damn dark. The game’s day and night cycle doesn’t help this either, as such a big world is crammed into such a tiny screen – though you can switch off the cycle for better results.
The upsides to the game heavily outweigh the downsides though; not only is this Burnout at its best, but the sprawling open world of Paradise City gives so many different ways to race and routes to take that eventually you’ll be cruising the city knowing all the shortcuts like the back of your hand. The game misses certain features we’ve become accustomed to, like being able to place waypoints on maps, but other features it is missing would take away from the game – for instance, fast-travel to locations would add loading times that you really forget aren’t actually there once you’ve been playing for a bit.
The online mode is really easy to jump into as well if you’re tired of cruising on your own, and it is great to be able to drop into a random session and start racing around with other revheads at your leisure. Occasionally I encountered a few lag spikes, but that’s bound to happen – and most of the time it was just fun shunting and racing by the opposition in challenges, or trying to strategically chuck them into a wall during a race.
THE NINTENDO SWITCH VERSION OF THIS GAME WAS PLAYED FOR THE PURPOSE OF THIS REVIEW. A DIGITAL REVIEW CODE WAS PROVIDED BY THE PUBLISHER.
Despite the few flaws that exist for the game, it is truly great to see Burnout back on consoles, even if it is in the form of a remaster. Die-hard fans of the game can probably give it a miss if they already own it on other consoles, but if you’ve never played a game from the Burnout series and want to know what it’s all about, this is definitely worth your time.