Sunday, 22 April 2018

Burnout Paradise Remastered ★★★★★

EA allowing Criterion Games to make a new game, in the Burnout franchise, is about as likely as Microsoft letting Rare make a new Banjo Kazooie or Perfect Dark. Criterion had teased a spiritual successor to the series, back at E3 2014, for it to never be mentioned since. Likely because EA have had them fastidiously working on the Star Fighter Assault Mode for Star Wars Battlefront 2, alongside DICE. A bunch of the core team, including its two founders, Alex Ward and Fiona Sperry had left by late 2014. The two formed the small game studio Three Fields Entertainment, Who to date have released three games. Destructive Golf, which is pretty self explanatory. A VR FBI game, As well as a game based on Burnouts, own Crash Mode, Danger Zone.

For a ten year old game that still looked good Stellar Entertainment, who handled the Remaster, have made an interesting effort with Burnout Paradise Remaster. At a glance it doesn't seem like a big jump, it's more of lots of little subtle touches ups. PS4 and Xbox one both get texture and resolution upgrades to 1080p, with the game running at a solid 60 frames per second. Double the frame rate of the PS3 and 360 version, which displayed at a lower 720p. Extra particle effects have been added to sparks, when you're scraping along side another car or the rear of the car bounces off the road.

Furthermore, the Xbox One X and PS4 Pro take this another step up and runs at a native, true, 4K and add a few extra effects, like tyre smoke and subtle HDR as you exit a tunnel and the sunlight hits you. Anti-aliasing is still pretty jaggy, in places, but this is hardly noticeable while driving. Mostly just fences, traffic signs and power lines. Oddly, motion blur has been removed, possibly because of the increased frame rate negating its use and effectiveness. The small number of video sequences in the game are also not redone, so they look bad in comparison to their original 720p. Luckily, there are only a few of these throughout the entire game.

Burnout Paradise dropped all the conventions of the previous games for a fully open city to explore. Each crossroad has its own event, to compete in, whether that's a standard Race across the city. Road Rage, to attempt to smash as many rival cars off the road as possible. A Stunt Run of driving recklessly, in order to gain points for jumps, drifting corners and driving the wrong way in traffic.

Burnout never forces you into doing any of the activities. You're given the freedom to roam Paradise City at your own leisure, from the very start, and even encouraged to do so; with Billboards and Barrier Gates scattered across the map to be found and crashed through. Online options are always accessible at any time, just by tapping Right on the D-pad, giving access to a further array of options for races and crashing into people, as well as a resemblance of the fan favourite Crash Mode. With the game always online, it displays anyone in your friend lists fastest time, known as a Road Record, for each Street. Creating a personal challenge between yourselves, always trying to up each other.

As with most competent remasters, Burnout Paradise comes with all released expansions, including Legendary Cars, Toy Cars, Paradise Bikes (which I'm fairly sure were added after Criterion pitched a Road Rash title, To EA, but got rejected. Early prototype footage of this exists). The biggest of all the downloadable content is Big Surf Island. An expansion to the already massive city, with its own set of new events and billboards to find.

While not the best game in the Burnout series (I'd personally give that to Burnout 3), I'll happily take Burnout Paradise as an acceptable substitute. Replaying it has been just as much fun as it was a decade ago.

Bry Wyatt

Burnout Paradise Remastered at CeX

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