Unlike my colleague Scott, I like my racing games to tilt towards the arcade side of things rather than a full-blown simulation that requires me to build my own car and update my flux capacitor. I enjoy games where I can jump in, have a few quick games and crash deliberately at one million miles per hour. Burnout Paradise is just such a game and it taught me a thing or two about online behaviour at the same time.
The Burnout series has been a huge success on consoles, and I’m glad Criterion stepped up and released a version for the PC as well.
Immediately after installation, you’re dropped into the city, with no load times and complete access to all areas. The PC version of this game is drop-dead gorgeous. Draw distance and textures take a front seat in providing a brilliant environment to go crazy in.
From the start you’re equipped with a moderately fast car, and told to roam the city looking for challenges. The challenges come in different shapes and sizes, from straight out racing to stunt runs and take-down competitions (essentially a high speed wrecking derby). While all challenges work well, the stunt missions really force you to explore the city and take advantage of its topography and seemingly endless road works conveniently shaped like huge jumps.
Aside from the standard challenges, there are also individual race times you can test yourself on. These work in both offline and online mode. Rolling up to an intersection, you’ll see a time for that particular street and a name. Beating it will put your name on the list for the world to see, and provides for a fun distraction when travelling back to your junk yard to change cars.
The junk yard concept, where you can change your cars and bikes, is a bit of an annoyance, as it can take a while to drive to. I’d much rather see a menu system where you can change cars, but I’m willing to forgive. You can also repair, paint and fill the boost of your car by driving through different stations scattered around the city. While we’re on the subject of things I don’t like about the game; the brilliant Crash mode on Xbox has been replaced by Showtime mode, which essentially makes every street an event, where the goal is to crash into as many cars as possible. Both ideas are good, but the execution here is unfortunately lacking.Despite my grumbles about it, Burnout Paradise for PC remains a very, very good game. The game looks far better on PC than on any next-gen console, and the keyboard controls don’t feel sluggish or odd. Both offline and online modes work very well and are perhaps best enjoyed with a couple of friends. This game is currently the best arcade racer on the PC, by a mile, and should be included in most game collections.