As you drive between activities you’ll spot features in the scenery: red billboards to smash up, yellow barriers to crash through, and Super Jumps to jump in a super way. Hundreds of them. And they’re irresistible. We’ve cancelled races midway through upon spotting a billboardwe haven’t broken yet. In fact, getting to any planned destination becomes almost impossible when you spot a new shortcut which might well lead you to the rooftop of a building, with a jump off the edge that could allow you, if Boosted enough, to reach that billboard you spotted earlier.
Yet crashing, Burnout’s joie de vivre, is peculiarly bylined. While crashes look spectacular – as the whole game does – they play a minimal role. Burnout 3: Takedown’s wondrous junction-based crashing games are replaced by a deeply silly car-bouncing thing, which is neither satisfying nor nearly as extraordinary. Also, the insistence on unskippable slo-mo after mistakes in races is maddening. Plus the porting, while perfect in-game, is a dreadful mess for starting up and menus. It’s hard to believe a human had anything to do with it.
The ‘Ultimate Pack’, as the PC release so boldly calls itself, contains all the additional free content that’s been released since the original console version. This includes a Party Pack that allows you to play with up to eight others on one machine, in a mode designed to satisfy the SingStar generation. There’s also the enormous Bikes Pack, that reimagines the island for motorbikes, with new tasks. Also included are all the improvements that have been made, including day/night cycles, and an option to instantly restart failed events, rather than laboriously driving back to where they start. Much more is planned, including a complete expansion to the city due soon this year.
A truckload of fantastic online modes include versions of the single-player activities, as well as very many daft co-op challenges. There are even best times and best bouncy-crash scores for every single road in the game. With a clearer incentive to progress, Paradise would have the cohesion it lacks. But it’s still a stupendous amount of fun to play. It doesn’t offer a challenge for hardcore racing fans, but instead presents you with a giant island of opportunities for mucking about and enjoying yourself. Which is just fine.
Feb 3, 2009