If Burnout Paradise Remastered does anything, it makes the EA of 2008 look like a benevolent creativity incubator when compared to the strife-prone publisher of today. For one thing, the game is great fun. For another, its clear that developer Criterion was given the room they needed to properly execute on their vision. It’s a reminder that EA hasn’t always forced the Frostbite engine on you or their developers. It’s a throwback to a time when the only post launch revenue streams we had to worry about were three reasonably-priced DLC packs and a bunch of free content drops.
So, rather than give people any further reason to ruminate on the disastrous year that was EA’s 2017, it makes sense that they’d kick 2018 off with a bit of a throwback to the good old days.
Burnout Paradise Remastered is a fresh coat paint on Criterion’s last true swing at the franchise that made their name. Playing it now on my Xbox One X, the game’s smart design, tight controls and fun-first design still hold up. It’s legitimately hard to believe that Burnout Paradise is ten years old because it still feels really fresh and exciting.
Not the first racing title to run with an open world format but certainly the first to nail it down, the game remains a master class in pick-up-and-play design. Every part of it makes sense, from the multitudes of races and events that take advantage of every last nanometre of the map, to the hundreds of short cuts, jumps and secret passages that make simply driving around Paradise City looking for trouble just as much fun as having a race to win.
It’s quite easy to see why Burnout Paradise became the blueprint for other arcade racers, most notably Microsoft’s Forza Horizon series. At no point does it want you to stop having fun. If you aren’t having a good time all the time, Burnout Paradise Remastered isn’t satisfied.
The remastered package contains every last scrap of DLC released for the game in its lifetime, including legendary cars, motorbikes and quite a bit more. The game has been updated to run in 4K and at 60 frames per second on current gen hardware and, despite some obviously low-poly buildings, it nevertheless looks great running on my Xbox One X.
The soundtrack also remains, in my humble opinion, a work of art, deploying mid-2000’s banger after bop after banger. I will not hear a cross word against it. Don’t @ me.
Paradise City itself is a driving theme park put together by a Hot Wheels enthusiast. While it uses a city map that makes sense — dense commercial areas that give way to suburbs that give way to rolling hinterland and back — it also takes every opportunity to stuff the landscape with cool shit to throw your car at. Jumps, stunts, challenges, unlockables, signs to smash, short cuts to find, other racers to locate and devastate — there’s tons of to do.
Burnout Paradise Remastered also proves that a decade after its launch, there’s no-one in video games who can render a car crash with such realism and believably as Criterion. Whatever it is about the way the RenderWare engine handles its physics needs to be brought back because every crash is a spectacular, clattering, metal-shearing mess and I love it.
If you’ve exhausted Forza Horizon 3 and are on the hunt for a new arcade racer, why not go back to Burnout Paradise? Its still well worth your time.
Score: 9.0 out of 10
Highlights: Fun; Fast; So much content; 60 frames!
Lowlights: That its been 10 years makes me feel old
Developer: Criterion Games
Publisher: Electronic Arts
Platforms: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Windows PC
Reviewed on Xbox One X using a retail review code provided by the publisher.