Burnout Paradise boxartI’ve been been giving the newly released Burnout paradise some serious attention over the last week and with any new game I really want to love it, but like BDSM, one man’s Paradise is anothers Hell….

Criterion Games have taken the Burnout World and turned it into a free roaming sandbox game but since this is a driving game don’t expect any GTA style escapades. This new style in itself isn’t too bad but some seriously bad design choices have been implemented:

No retstarts.
Criterion boasted that this wouldn’t matter as there will always be other events near by. But it does matter Criterion. When doing a Burning Route, having to drive for 5 mins to get back to the start just because you crashed once is not fun. When you are trying to do the last few activities in the game to complete your licence, driving back for 5 minutes back to the race you just failed is not fun. Even Rockstar realised that the GTA series needed a quick way to get back to a mission you failed and introduced taxi cabs as restarts. Games are meant to be fun remember Criterion?
1 crash and you’re out!
During many of the later Burning Routes and races, once single crash is all it takes to be left so far behind that there is no point in continuing. This is not fun Criterion. I’ll give it another shot when I fail but when you punish me needlessly I start thinking about trading your game in for something fun.
You’ve just crashed, lets see that in slow mo and waste 5 seconds!
Like the boring relative who comes round to show you 500 holiday photo’s, Criterion decided that since they had spent so much time on the crumple/crash physics (instead of making the game fun it would seem) that they would show you it at every opportunity. You wish for an option to turn this off after 30 minutes of first play and what makes it worse, you can actually lose races due to this ‘feature’.
I need a navigator!
Practically any race is 10% driving, 90% pausing to look at the map! Let us set waypoints so we know when a turn is coming up and plan our own routes. This is not a fun way to race! If you try to use the mini-map you will end up crashing into any number of cars and walls and don’t forget, more than 1 crash and you may as well forget the later races. Turns come up so fast that most of the time you will not see them until you’re way past them and the turn indicator is useless and distracting when planning your own route.
Don’t look at a curb!
The game seems so desperate to show me it’s crash engine that on several occasions it has crashed me when I was nowhere near a curb, wall or car. I sat there in disbelief as my car crumpled on the edge of a tiny railing that I wasn’t near and wouldn’t expect to damage my car in the first place.
What do you mean you want to see the road ahead?
In what can only be thought of as some kind of punishment, the default camera angle is far too low to the ground. This may mean you get a better feeling of speed but it also means that the road ahead is often a mystery until you end up face first into a wall, car or speck of dirt that causes you to crash. heaven forbid you think to activate your Burnout along the road of random death. You can raise the camera angle but only by holding up on the right analog stick, without some sellotape this is an impossible task when racing! The only other view available is a first person one and the less said about that the better.

Now Burnout Paradise is fun at times, but there’s just too much wrong with it at a basic level. This is the sort of game that appeals to car fanatics, Burnout Brand Slaves and submissives who love being punished. A patch is forthcoming by the sounds of it, lets hope Criterion address some of the major problems with this game and give us the Paradise that it so wants to be.

As for me, I’ll keep plodding along with it, for all the stress it causes and poor design there’s a fun game in there fighting to get out. Online can be a lot of fun and there’s a definite feeling of satisfaction when you beat a friends time on a road. This is probably Burnout’s saving grace but it relegates what should have been a first class game to a nice, but sometimes uncomfortable, second class.