You know when you boot up a game, you see the title screen, hear the opening chords of music and you just smile? That’s Burnout Paradise for me. Everytime.
It makes me giddy. It fills me with glee. I know, no matter what else has happened that day, in the five minutes or five hours I choose to play Burnout Paradise, I’m going to be able to kick back and enjoy myself.
And it’s a weird sensation because over the last ten years, most games haven’t given me those same vibes. Strange as it is to say, playing Burnout Paradise Remastered has reminded me that a game can actually make me feel relaxed and content.
Wait, are you saying you play games as punishment?
God, no. I love games. I wouldn’t be running this website if I didn’t. It’s just that so many games require you to stick it out in these massive, quest-filled worlds, making sure to see every sight, but Burnout Paradise is just…chill.
Yes, there’s tons to do, like smashing through yellow gates, doing the stunt jumps, pillowing through billboards and smashing gorgeous cars off the road to add to your collection, yet I never feel obliged to do any of it. I just stumble across things naturally and drive on. And on. And on.
I don’t have to feel bad for turning down the cries for help of a small child who’s lost his favourite toy, or ignoring an urgent message from an attacking army threatening to quash my kingdom. I can just cruise, going as fast as I possibly can without any real consequences or drama, listening to my tunes, and take in the sights. It’s liberating.
Even though Burnout Paradise is a decade old, it is somehow still relevant enough to be the perfect palette cleanser in what has already been a year of exhaustive experiences. It also confirms what many of us thought back then but didn’t feel comfortable saying out loud, this game was way, waayy ahead of its time.
For a start, the physics and mechanics are still absolutely on point. Sure, one or two cars can make you feel like you’re going out barefoot on the ice, but it’s because each vehicle is so incredibly robust and has its own identity. Unlike other racers of the time, Burnout Paradise really nails the feel of its vehicles, just as it does the look.
Which is obviously the big draw of the remaster, though also an eye-opener in terms of how good that game already looked. Sure, we’re now blessed with the 4k textures and silky smooth 60FPS, in addition to improved ambient occlusion and visual fidelity, but what’s most impressive is how respectful of the original this remaster is. Stellar Entertainment truly honor the feel of the source material by keeping it faithful and delivering an authentic experience that will feel very familiar to its original audience. That said, they also add some lovely subtle touches, like extra pillows of smoke, thunderous, car-crunching collisions, all with sparks flying everywhere.
In that sense, it’s a perfect remaster. Nobody needed to strip Burnout Paradise from the inside out and redesign the whole thing. The UI holds up incredibly well, though you’ll notice the omission of map markers more than ever before. But it’s always clear what icons represent on your minimap and it’s never especially difficult to work out the routes. To be honest, I feel like this also lends itself to my enjoyment and reminds me that, maybe sometimes, I don’t want to have a straight cut clear path to my next objective. Why confine myself?
Some of your best Paradise sessions actually come from aimlessly driving around. Whether you enter a random, pot luck event, or you stumble down a side road you didn’t expect and find a host of other things to grab your attention.
Perhaps most importantly though, Burnout Paradise Remastered really gives the player a true break-neck pace for the majority of the time. Even without a boost or a Burnout activated, the way you weave between oncoming traffic, dart around corners, and slam someone into the side for a takedown, it still feels like Burnout Paradise has lessons to teach the best of racers in 2018.
This is also one of the first games that got additional content really right.
Really? What’s so good about Burnout’s content?
Big Surf Island not only offers up a whole other district and playground for you to run around in with new events and challenges, there’s a ton of other vehicles added in, as well as its own license system. It’s like having a whole other game within a game. The return on investment with this one, with hours of additional entertainment, is insane, and you get it out of the box with Remastered.
But there’s also other packs, like Cops and Robbers which converts all of your original Paradise vehicles into police cars and gives you a new online gameplay mode.
Oh, and they added toy cars, legendary cars – like the official unofficial Delorean and Ghostbusters cars – and best of all, bikes! Seriously, these packs were game-changers in terms of how they evolved the game, keeping it fresh and current, but also still maintaining the same level of fun.
And it was all connected online, enabling you to easily jump into a game with a friend, tackle the online events, all while living on a wealth of free content updates. Burnout Paradise is one of the first games of its kind that had a true afterlife and even before the remaster was announced, the community was still incredibly active. Using the modern online resources of PSN and Xbox Live Gold, I can only imagine how active Burnout Paradise Remastered is going to be.
But that’s what so good and bad about this bundle. You don’t need to unlock any of it, you could literally jump on any of the legendary cars from the beginning. That kind of kills the concept of progression in the game, so it would have been nice to have had an option to turn it off and earn it the old-fashioned way.
Burnout Paradise Remastered is the perfect first title for EA to reintroduce for modern systems. It’s current, still incredibly fresh and absolutely deserves a sequel with those planes, trains, helicopters and trips to the moon they were planning.
The game is still very freeing, lots of fun, and lays down the gauntlet to its modern rivals on what ‘fast’ really is. More importantly, it still manages to be incredibly influential.
If you needed a reminder of the kind of gold EA has in its backlog bank, this is it. And if this is the kind of quality we can expect from all of their future remasters, let’s hope it’s not their last.
+ Fantastic remaster quality
+ Abundance of content out of the box
+ They really nail the speed
+ Good, relaxing, easy-going fun
+ That soundtrack
– Waypoints are missed and some dated design
– All content unlocked from the beginning and no chance to earn
Burnout Paradise Remastered
8.5 out of 10
Tested on Xbox One
Code provided by the publisher