The release of Burnout Paradise was a massive hit from Criterion and EA. It signified that not only was more Burnout wanted, but something different would be accepted. This was the first open-world Burnout game which lent itself to offer much more freedom than in prior games, while still providing speed and car crashes looked like an aluminum can being crushed. Originally releasing onto Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and PC in 2008; Burnout Paradise Remastered looks to recapture the magic on Xbox One and PlayStation 4 (with a PC release later this year) in 2018. And with this, Burnout Paradise Remastered does just that.
As evidenced by the loading screen and the moment you’re given control, Guns N’ Roses “Paradise City” is back and used to the fullest extent. Starting out, you begin in a junkyard with a wrecked vehicle. You take it out and must fix it up because that would make it look better, and it’s also fragile in its current state. This not only gets you acquainted with the systems that have been put in place, but also to not overwhelm you with the open world laid out before you. By today’s standards the map isn’t very large, but make no mistake that it is dense and full of things to see and do in the game that will keep you busy for dozens of hours: billboards to crash, gates to smash, stunt jumps to complete, and taking down special racers who appear in the world.
Now, what if you already own the Xbox 360 version of the game, and are playing it through backwards compatibility? The Xbox 360 version works just like you’d expect, but it does look grungy and rather unfocused. It’s still blistering fast, but the work that’s put into Burnout Paradise Remastered is like seeing with new eyes, along with a whole host of achievements to (re-get), as well as new servers that won’t be at risk of shutdown anytime soon. It is worth mentioning that if you already have the game digitally or would plan on getting it through physical, it will end up costing you more to get the base game plus all of the DLC piecemeal than it would cost to buy Burnout Paradise Remastered that comes with everything. Given the choice, I’m going with Burnout Paradise Remastered every time as it looks leaps and bounds better, and is supreme.
Burnout Paradise released in 2008, and we’re already at the ten year anniversary, what you know and love has been preserved in a way I didn’t think we’d see. What you may already know is that Burnout Paradise Remastered offers the game in native 4K resolution at 60 frames per second on the Xbox One X. And you may know that this includes all previously released DLC as well. What you may not know is that the soundtrack is completely in tact. That means you can scream down the streets of Paradise City and into Big Surf Island blasting Avril Lavigne’s “Girlfriend” in all its glory with a wonderfully looking and playing game that epitomizes the “this is how I remembered it” part of our brains.
The DLC includes everything that was a part of the original release: Big Surf Island, Cops and Robbers, Legendary Cars, Burnout Bikes, Burnout Paradise Toys, Burnout Paradise Party, Boost Specials, and Cagney update. Most of the DLC included cars, and there are certainly some that undercut the cars you will unlock through the normal progression. It doesn’t necessarily break it, because many of the cars are just too fast for starting out and you’ll have a rough time. It’s best to stick to the cars that naturally unlock and use them until you get to that tier of racing. Burnout Paradise Remastered is 7.66GB installed vs the ~4GB of the Xbox 360 version of Burnout Paradise. While it isn’t large by any other 4K game standards, it is clear to see the differences as this release improves texture clarity, resolution, and color making the game pop on-screen at any given angle or speed.
The Burnout series known for its insane crashes, but the racing is top notch. While there’s standard checkpoint races, a hallmark about its navigation is that every road is named and street signs will blink as an indicator which road to turn down. Assuming your car is in the proper shape, your car’s turn signals will also mirror the direction you should go. This level of subtlety is so smartly done, and reduces unnecessary clutter in the UI. Exemplifying the speed and danger are survival races known as Marked Man where you are hunted by very powerful cars who are all out to get you. Road Rage is ever so satisfying as you try to simply have to reach the quota of taking cars out by grinding them into guardrails, in the path of oncoming cars, or letting them smash into buildings after sending them careening. Burning Routes are time trials that excite as any wrong move can cost you the race. Showcase mode was not everyone’s favorite, but being able to activate this mode with the press of two buttons and wrack up thousands of dollars in damage on a whim is wholly exciting even if it doesn’t compare to prior entries’ crash modes.
Online in Burnout Paradise Remastered is impressive as it was ten years ago, allowing you and seven other racers to play cooperatively to complete an astounding 300 challenges. Challenges are available by number of players in the session, so there are ones where you need a specific number, so things get weird when you need an odd number of players to complete challenges, but then another player joins and upsets that. The online has only been close to duplicated just once, and that was with Criterion’s Need For Speed Most Wanted in 2012. The level of cooperation and gentle competition that can be found in Burnout Paradise Remastered is heartwarming and reassuring.
Burnout Paradise Remastered is a masterpiece, just as the original was ten years ago. While I think this could have released with a slightly lower price point, what’s here is cheaper than the base game and all of the DLC on Xbox 360. While Burnout Paradise is the first open-world Burnout game, it also the only. I hope this isn’t the last we’ve seen of the series, and I hope that this release garners attention of EA to make another. Burnout Paradise Remastered is stunning in 4K and at 60fps, the breadth of content available from the get-go will keep you busy for hours upon hours. Oh won’t you please take me home.