Burnout Paradise Demo Hands-On

We check out the Burnout Paradise demo ahead of its December 13 release on the PS3 and Xbox 360.

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If you've got a Burnout itch that's badly in need of scratching, we've got some good news. Though the North American and European release dates for Burnout Paradise are still over a month away, on December 13 those of you with a PlayStation 3 or an Xbox 360 will be afforded some temporary relief in the form of a demo that supports both solo and online play. We recently had an opportunity to spend several hours with the PS3 version of said demo, and we're pleased to report that it bodes well for the finished game.

The demo gets off the start line with a brief intro movie detailing some of the different areas and neighborhoods that make up Paradise City. Only three areas are available in the demo version: Motor City, Ocean View, and Big Surf Beach. Essentially you only get to drive on and around the city's eastern coastline, and while there's plenty of gameplay to be found there, we'd estimate that the demo area accounts for less than 10 percent of the map that you'll be able to explore early next year.

Your first car in Burnout Paradise is a wreck long before you get anywhere near it.

As you take the controls of your first car in Burnout Paradise--an old, beat-up "Hunter Cavalry" muscle car--you'll learn that in Paradise City you get your cars from the junkyard rather than from a showroom. That's because you'll have to "takedown" (or wreck) cars that you see on the street before you can drive them yourself. Damage doesn't appear to have any impact on a vehicle's performance in Burnout Paradise, but nobody likes to be seen driving around in a wreck, so your first job is to drive to the local auto-repair shop for a makeover. You won't need to stop or even slow down when you reach the shop; the business establishments that you interact with in Burnout Paradise take the words "drive thru" to a whole new level, making visits viable even in the middle of a race.

After getting your car fixed up you'll be encouraged to look around for other drive-through points of interest so that they can be automatically added to your map for future reference. The most useful of these are gas stations, which completely replenish your boost meter. There's also at least one paint shop in the demo area, which will randomly assign a new paint job to your ride every time you visit. Other points of interest that'll show up on your map after you've found them include the start points for races and other events. Most of those in the demo area are locked, unfortunately, but if you check out enough intersections and slow down at enough traffic lights you'll find that a race, a stunt run, and a "burning route" are available for solo play.

You can change the color of your ride simply by driving through a paint shop.

Races in Burnout Paradise play out in much the same way that they always have, save for the fact that you have a lot more freedom to choose your own route to the finish. You'll be encouraged to "takedown" opponents or drive through oncoming traffic at every opportunity to refill your boost meter, and shortcuts hidden behind destructible fences with conspicuous yellow signs are all over the place. Given the speeds you're driving at in Burnout Paradise (even in the demo's relatively slow car), it's not always easy to check the map for the shortest route to the finish, so EA Criterion has been kind enough to include a number of other visual and audible cues. There's a compass at the top of the screen that shows you, as the crow flies, which direction your objective is in, and it's augmented by a small audio alert that sounds if you start heading completely the wrong way. Street signs also pop up on the screen to let you know where you are and, when appropriate, smaller flashing street signs will appear to the left and/or right of it (think of them as turning signals) to let you know what options you have coming up.

Burning routes are a lot like races, except that you're against the clock rather than any number of fiercely competitive opponents. Interestingly, Burnout Paradise will feature a different burning route for each of the 75 vehicles that you can unlock, and although there's no reward for beating the burning route in the demo, we're told that in the finished game it'll be the only way to unlock souped-up versions of cars that you already own.

Stunt runs are quite unlike anything that has appeared in a Burnout game previously, and would perhaps best be compared to the trick score challenges found in skateboarding and snowboarding games. In the demo you'll be tasked with scoring 50,000 points in just two minutes, which was a daunting prospect for us initially. Jumps, spins, and barrel rolls are the stunts that will net you big points on your run, while bonus multipliers can be earned for getting big air and crashing through billboards. Unsurprisingly, lengthy stunt combos are the key to success, and individual tricks are quite easily strung together using low-scoring boosts and drifts.

Although there are only three solo events unlocked in the demo version of Burnout Paradise, there are plenty of other things for you to do without taking the game online. There are 15 billboards to crash through, some of which aren't easy to reach. There are six "super jumps'" to complete using ramps that are marked with flashing lights. And there are no fewer than 34 shortcut fences to crash through. All of these numbers are tracked in Burnout Paradise, along with the stuff detailing your longest drift, your biggest jump, and your best stunt combo that you'd expect.

Crashes and collisions look to be as spectacular as ever.

When you're ready to take the Burnout Paradise demo online you'll find that doing so is as easy as pulling your car over, tapping right on the D pad to pull up an online menu, and then deciding whether you want a public or a friends-only environment. The only online mode available in the demo is "Freeburn Online," which affords you and up to three other drivers the freedom to do whatever you please, while constantly tracking and comparing achievements such as those mentioned above. If you're hosting the session you'll also have the option to initiate challenges for your group, which are cooperative rather than competitive. It's conceivable that the challenges differ depending on how many players there are in the session. Only two of us were playing on this occasion, and we had three quite different challenges to choose from.

The "Wave Jumping" challenge simply tasks you with jumping over each other using ramps located on the beach. The "Smash and Grab" challenge requires you to smash through six billboards. And to beat the "Drift and Near Miss" challenge, the pair of you will need to accrue a total of 40 near misses and 4000 drifting yards. Although the challenges are cooperative, it's worth noting that the latter two track individual scores as well as your total, so there will still be plenty of opportunities for you to prove that you're better than whomever you're playing with.

Burnout Paradise's online modes will encourage cooperative as well as competitive play.

Last but not least, we should mention that both versions of the Burnout Paradise demo support the game's "mugshots" feature, so if you and your friends have cameras attached to your consoles, you'll get to see photos of anyone you take down that are snapped immediately after they crash. "Smugshots" (victory shots of yourself that will automatically be sent to opponents you've bested) aren't supported in the demo, but in the finished game you'll get to send them out and receive them regardless of whether or not you and your friends are online at the same time. For example, you might log on and receive a smugshot from a friend of yours who beat one of your high scores the previous night while you were sleeping. We should also mention that while the demo version of Burnout Paradise supports only four players online, that number will be doubled in the finished game.

Burnout Paradise is currently scheduled for release in North America on January 22 and in Europe on January 25. Expect more information on this one next week.

Discussion

182 comments
Staryoshi87
Staryoshi87

Burnout is in definitely in my Top 5 list of games for the first half of 2008. I just paid off my pre-order today... I love the demo and I can't wait! :)

Fellwinter
Fellwinter

i can't stop playing this demo!! what a great way to start out 2008... the feel of this new Burnout is so amazing... the multiplayer on the demo is such a great time! everything about it... the flow of the action and takedowns, working on your jumps, practicing power parking, cool challenges that can be collectively completed, and the speed!! oh boy the speed!!! a must play. I CANNOT wait to get full access to Paradise City, learn its secrets and just have a great online and single player experience.

rhys_101
rhys_101

This Demo is amazing and cannot wait to have the full version the online is so funand the mugshots crack me up:P

skee_uk
skee_uk

demo plays quite good, grafix are clean and crisp

ewingmel
ewingmel

Is it true that the demo does not allow you to race other players because they are having problems getting that part of the game to work online?

mad_tyger
mad_tyger

I really like the new direction the team is taking! Hopefully, the game will be awesome!

rosscero
rosscero

nice... burnout always rox!!!! I play since the first!

SukkaMan
SukkaMan

Sounds really good. The original formula was great to begin with, but it seems that they have managed to renew the series almost completely and still maintaining the same amount of awesomeness. Something that not many popular series have managed to pull off.

MikeySSH
MikeySSH

i'm gonna have too much fun with the smugshots lol

masterspodi
masterspodi

This game looks insanley bad@$$!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

p5ilocyb3
p5ilocyb3

wicked stuff... definitely pick this up for the ps3

Khoo1992
Khoo1992

race is never perfect, and this game proved how damage is done to your races!!!!

GunGriffin
GunGriffin

This game will rock! I always liked Burnout, This game looks like it will finaly show off what the PS3 can realy do with the RSX GPU that sits in it, as well as the killer Cell CPU that will handel the phisics! It sure dose look great thats for sure! Heres hopeing EA finaly hits one outa the ball park like with some of their early games IE BF1942 (PC), BF: Modern Combat (Xbox/PS2), and of course games like Burnout: Legdands (PS2/PSP/Xbox360). Yes this game has crash mode, and it has some new twitsts to it as well! This will be the game to buy for PS3 owners if all goes well!

thanatose
thanatose

This game looks great, I'll have to make sure to pre-order it.

drpapimalo
drpapimalo

this game will be one of the greaters game next year along with grand turismo 5.

drpapimalo
drpapimalo

[This message was deleted at the request of the original poster]

ratgangsta
ratgangsta

"Anyone know if this has the Crash game in it?" -champ513 it does have crash mode if u have a 360 and go to games, it has a section for burnout paradise and if u read descriptions for some of the trailers, they show the crash mode

Sephiroth99000
Sephiroth99000

the graphics are fantastic. i hope it plays as well as it looks.

jak_her
jak_her

wooow !! the game look very hot !!! i rely want it

champ513
champ513

Anyone know if this has the Crash game in it?

Ryan-06
Ryan-06

So will there be licensed cars in this game? sorry I didn't read the entire preview, so if gamespot said so my bad lol.

Heretic_Zero
Heretic_Zero

You did not emphasize how bad ass the new damage technology is!

planetkyle
planetkyle

nice graphics- the cars look real like forza

bmmsballerbajwa
bmmsballerbajwa

oonge, ever play midnight club 1, 2 or any others on the psp, they are all open ended racing

bmmsballerbajwa
bmmsballerbajwa

the open worls sandbox play could be great or it could suck, there putting it on the line, i think they should have stuck with the original formula

Gladestone1
Gladestone1

Burnout games rock de house..Fun addicting..Open ended world will be awesome..Hours of fun in burnout games..

Zee666
Zee666

Woohoo, explosions and rampage! Can't wait to blow up big bannery thingies. Note: Watch out for the magic fish....

oonge
oonge

at last a game that answers my dream, to have a race that i have to find my own way to the finish

TacticalShado
TacticalShado

pretty cool that it is more sandbox. Good graphics, good gameplay, and I am in. Demo time.

CommandoDurando
CommandoDurando

Give me demo give me demo! Burnout in an open world game? Its gonna be INSANE.

PaPaUpA
PaPaUpA

niceeee i want the demo nowww

106473
106473

Looks awesome, Can't wait!

Fluffman
Fluffman

this games is ganna be bigger and better then NFS: prostreet

sancezz
sancezz

I'm really looking forward to this game...I'm loved all the burnout games...though I feel that the series peaked with Burnout 3: Takedown. Maybe this game will top that...it certainly sounds very promising.

EoRa_666
EoRa_666

all burnout games are like the best i would say and this one will be way better because of the graphics and all that so it will make it look real oh yeah!!!!!

rotiv415
rotiv415

This game has one of the greatest game covers ive seen. It itself makes me want to buy the game., just to get lost in its beaulty

kamicolo
kamicolo

great! Good use of the PS Eye as well. Burnout has survived into the next gen indefinitely. Hooray, heh

johnmetcalf
johnmetcalf

It all sounds great but I hope it still has the crash partys that revenge had. I loved trying to crash and get the highest dollar amount.

danciu
danciu

Looks nice,hope the MP is good

Ad-2cool4u
Ad-2cool4u

looks amazing, but i really want to see if it tops burnout 3. that was the the best in the series so far imo, and if it does top it, anyone who picks up this game is gonna have one hell of a time :)

jokey
jokey

this will be a great game, so much fun crashing, who wouldnt find that great? :)

sean_ph
sean_ph

hmmmm, looks good...