While 2008 has had its fair share of great racing games, Burnout Paradise's numerous free updates have helped keep the game in the spotlight since January. New vehicles, a refined online mode, new weather options, and a pack devoted to two-wheeled racing have all held racing fans' interest throughout the year, and it looks like 2009 is going to start in the same vein, albeit less altruistically.
While it was originally intended as a free add-on, Criterion has announced that the newly christened Big Surf Island will be a paid-for download when it launches next year. Speaking about the decision to charge for the update, Criterion said, "We never expected to create anything this ambitious for the island, but as it progressed we got more and more excited." Described by the team as "the culmination of everything we learned creating Paradise City," the island is around the same size as the Downtown Paradise area, focusing on the same sort of gameplay to be found Paradise City's current airfield, quarry, and beach, which are dedicated to big jumps and high-speed drifting.
The news follows information about the game's other premium content, the Party Pack, which adds as host of new mainly offline multiplayer modes, and the Legendary Cars pack. Among the four vehicles in that latter are a speedy 1920s-inspired roadster and a Back to the Future Part II inspired hovering DeLorean-esque racer, with two more yet to be revealed.
The Burnout Paradise Ultimate Box will include the Party Pack when it comes out in February, but, confusingly, not Big Surf Island or the Legendary Cars. Prices and dates have not been announced for either the Legendary Cars pack or the island, but preliminary screenshots are available on Criterion's Web site.