|System: X360, PS3||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Criterion Games||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Electronic Arts||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: September 2008||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1-8||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Everyone 10+||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by Adam Brown
Burnout is easily one of the best racing franchises in recent memory. With every new game the series has continued to push the envelope graphically, with its features, and its gameplay mechanics. Burnout Paradise allowed players to navigate a fully open world for the first time, which met with resounding praises from fans and critics alike.
While most successful games seem to dwindle six months to a year after their initial releases, Burnout Paradise refuses to be forgotten. To keep players coming back for more, Paradise has and will continue to receive several FREE expansion packs that add significant amounts of gameplay and features to the already amazing title.
The newest expansion, the Bike Pack, will be released sometime in September and will be changing quite a few things in Paradise City. As the title suggests, players will finally be given the ability to race through Paradise City on motorcycles. These motorcycles are a first for the Burnout series and are definitely a welcome addition. This pack will only include four motorcycles, one or two to start off with and the others to be unlocked while playing. This may seem like a small number of bikes, but with the way Paradise continues to receive updates, it would seem likely that these initial offerings will eventually be expanded upon.
From what we were able to play, the bikes handle exceptionally well. Swerving in and out of traffic was easy, with your driver leaning into the turns. Players worried about constantly spilling their ride need fear no longer. The way the bikes are set up, you wont need to concern yourself when trying to take tight turns or popping wheelies. You will never wreck your bike by turning too tightly or from holding a wheelie too long. In the time I had with the expansion, I actually managed to hold a wheelie for over a mile of road, eventually hitting a bump that brought my front wheel back to the pavement. While this may not be incredibly realistic, not overly emphasizing real world motorcycle driving mechanics keeps the bikes more approachable and the action incredibly fast paced.
As in real life, Burnouts motorcycles are able to reach ridiculous speeds. The last bike you unlock will actually be the fastest vehicle available in the game. Since being able to go fast is never an issue, players will not be given the ability to use boost when on a bike. This is a little disappointing, but at the speeds these bikes travel, it is completely unnecessary. Given that you wont be able to have any bike vs. car events (yet), there is also no potential disadvantage caused by its omission.
Since the Burnout series is well known for its spectacular crashes, a big question arose as to what would happen when a motorcycle with a rider on its back wrecked. Unfortunately, because of the games E10 ESRB rating, we wont be treated to flailing ragdoll wipeouts. Instead, when an accident inevitably occurs, your rider completely disappears and the crash camera focuses entirely on the bike as it rolls and skips down the street. The camera does a good job of adjusting, so you wont actually see the rider disappear after an accident. While this may be a small letdown for many fans of the series, it is an understandable sacrifice, considering the games younger rating that allows a wider variety of players to experience the title.
Aside from the bikes, new bike-focused challenges, and a new license, the Bike Pack will also add weather effects and a night and day cycle to the game. The weather effects dont seem too major at this point, as the only thing we were able to see was a slightly overcast sky. At least we wont have to worry about rain slicked roads when tearing through Paradise City on a motorcycle, since rain is not supposed to actually fall in the game! Fortunately, the day and night cycle is a much more significant addition.
When night falls traffic will thin out, leaving the roads wide open for better bike-based racing. There will also be specific events that can only be completed at night. Driving at night on a bike in the first person view was an incredible experience, with the yellowed headlight letting me see just enough of my surroundings to make quick decisions to keep from wrecking. Thankfully, players are given complete control over how the game transitions from day to night. You can set how long you would like the cycles to take, or even just permanently set the time of day to your liking.
These kind of additions to a game, especially since they are free, help add incredible amounts of replayability and value to an already excellent package. Burnout Paradise continues to give fans new experiences and reasons to play, even though the game was initially released way back in January of this year. Keeping players interested in a game for six months and beyond is a difficult trick, but it looks like Paradise seems to have the perfect formula worked out. Free + Good + New = Awesome.
CCC Staff Contributor