Let’s talk about the elephant planted firmly in the middle of the room, and it’s a sentiment that’ll be echoed ad nauseam throughout the annals of time. If nothing else, EA has proved they actually don’t have any interest in money because if they did, they would have touched up the right Burnout game and made a cruiseliner’s worth of cash.
But enough of that talk, what’s done is done and Burnout Paradise was, and still is, a fine spectacle of arcade racing that has managed to hold up exceptionally well a decade after its release.
As a package, Burnout Paradise Remastered offers a lot. The open world of, cue G chord, Paradise City served as a precursor for the eventual boom of expansive, free-roam racing games. But even after all this time, it’s hard to think of many, if any, that cobbled together a world that catered to the many strengths of the Burnout franchise. Not only are you free to tear up the bitumen on every stretch, the sheer amount of roadworks barriers and billboards you have to smash through in your never-ending pursuit for the next big jump, shortcut or adrenaline high is actually incredible.
It took coming back after all these years to appreciate how intelligently bolted together Paradise’s map is.Each intersection in the city serves as a starting block for a myriad of events. Although I always had a soft spot for the Road Rage and Stunt events, it’s hard not to enjoy a good old-fashioned point-to-point test of speed. With only a starting point, an ending point and a mob of salivating gearheads whose sole aim is to make you hurt, another of Paradise’s bold design choices emerge to the fore. It’s perhaps the first racing game to truly throw you into its world, not providing so much as a waypoint to hold your hand through races. The game might subtly suggest turns but ultimately, the route you take will be yours. Sometimes it works and the dream run takes you to the podium, other times you’ll kick yourself over the turn taken too soon, squandering another tick on your ever-improving license.
The game itself still holds together beautifully and its online component was always a busy, breathing hub where racers would meet to do furious battle. Sadly, on our now vintage platforms, these online communities have long since died off. Hopefully, this remaster can wrestle back some kind of dedicated player base, though I imagine if it does, it’ll be short-lived given the battle royale craze these days.
I’m especially glad to hear the original Burnout Paradise soundtrack, licensed once more, in full, with no cuts. They don’t make them like they used to anymore and Paradise’s blend of hard rock and punk feels as though it was tailored for the late-00s angsty teen with Killswitch Engage, Saosin and Faith No More it hits hard and it hits often, providing the note-perfect backdrop to the chaos that ensues around Paradise City.
As always, the main concern regarding remasters is usually in regards to the game’s performance, visual and otherwise. Even a decade ago, this was a pretty game to behold and thankfully, it’s been touched up enough to still run at a blistering, mostly locked, 60 frames per second. The remaster does well to honour the style Paradise had when it originally released while making marked improvements to textures along with a lot of smaller, subtler improvements. It does come at a cost, though. Motion blur is a casualty of improved textures, being removed entirely while the smoke particles, which come as a result of burnouts and often usher in an event, can often appear blocky and comically dated.
THE XBOX ONE VERSION OF THIS GAME WAS PLAYED FOR THE PURPOSE OF THIS REVIEW. A DIGITAL REVIEW CODE WAS PROVIDED BY THE PUBLISHER.
Burnout Paradise is unarguably a stellar racing game and it paved the way for the likes of Forza to do what it has done with its Horizon franchise, so for that there'll always be a place in my heart for it. It's a tough sell for returning veterans as the visual buffs are minimal and the game itself is unchanged. Though if you were too young and didn't get to play Paradise, there's enough here, especially with all of the extra content on-disc, to justify the price of admission.