Burnout: Paradise is an open-world racing game, with an emphasis on speed and ramming your opponents. The events are started from traffic lights in the city. You need to slow down near them, then hit accelerate and brake to trigger them. There's a few race types; Race, Road Rage, One on One, Stunt, Burning Route, Marked Man.
Road Rage is to take down a set amount of cars within the time-limit. Stunt gives you a target score and you must achieve it by using boosts, performing jumps, drifts and smashing destructible billboards. Burning Route is a time-trial using a specific car. Marked Man events give you the objective of reaching a destination without being taken out by a few faster and stronger opponents.
The events are started from the traffic light which triggered the event, but the finishing location is one of the eight landmarks which means a lot of the races feel repetitive. When you upgrade your licence (essentially levelling up), the events are reset so you can play them again which also adds to the repetition. It seems that on many occasions, you end up in the North-West section of the city which is devoid of events, in contrast to the Eastern side which has plenty going on. There's no quick travel which means you are forced to drive for a few minutes for your next event. At first, it seemed that you had to drive all the way back in order to restart an event. Out of curiosity, I tried using the D-pad and I accidentally discovered another menu which has the option to restart last event, quit current event, and jump into an online game.
In the events, you are shown your current location and the finishing point. You have the flexibility of choosing your own way there or following the game's cues to guide you. Your car does automatically indicate to try and guide you on the calculated route, and the street name and direction appears at the top of the screen. At anytime, you can pull up the map, but this detracts from the action.
The map design mainly features long straights and simple corners which allows you to drive at high speeds. Since there is no set route to take, it can be very annoying when you do miss a key turning. The on-screen map is fairly small and in some places, it can look a bit cluttered. It's quite hard to glance at your map whilst travelling at high-speed; this can result in crashing into cars or barriers, leading to frustrating moments.
To complete the races, you have to finish 1st; there's no award for second place or below. When you complete events, new cars will be driving through the streets. Take them down and their car will be added to your collection. To switch cars, you must drive to the Junk-yards rather than having an easily accessible menu.
Each vehicle has three stats; speed, boost and strength, as well as a characteristic to determine if they are more appropriate for Racing, Aggression or Stunts. These characteristics influence how they obtain boost power and give an indication on their stats. Aggression cars have the strength, but usually lack speed, Stunt cars are usually balanced, Speed cars are the fastest and the way they boost is different. Boosts can only be activated when full and depleting all of it activates a 'Burnout' where the boost is replenished and can be chained for continuous boosts. In addition to cars, you can drive motorcycles which have specific events for them.
Your boost is gained by dangerous/aggressive driving such as taking down cars, gaining air-time, driving on the wrong side of the road, and narrowly avoiding crashes. Nudging cars into danger is a large part of the game. When this happens, you get a slow motion view of the destruction; which is a nice touch. It's a good idea to boost into opponents to make sure you apply enough force to send them to their demise. They do respawn like you do, but it costs them a few seconds.
Outside the events, you can explore to destroy barriers to unveil shortcuts, destroy billboards and making the super jumps. Each street has a time-trial which you can compete against online records.
By pressing LB+RB, you can activate Show-time Your car will flip and you have to guide your car into oncoming traffic to cause a chain of destruction. Usually, there isn't many cars roaming the streets, but when you activate Showtime, there's plenty that spawn. Creating your own multi-car pile-up sounds fun on paper, but it's actually incredibly boring. You can press A to make your car jump and this drains your boost, whereas crashing replenishes it. Even if you have limited skill, this can drag on because you can have far too much control over your car, and far too much boost so can end up miles away from where you started. Add to that the fact that there is no reward, it's a redundant feature.
There's a few places you can drive through such Petrol Stations (refill your boost bar), Paint Shops (unlocks a new colour for your car), Repair Shop (repairs your car) and Junk-yards (let's you choose from your car collection). You can drive through them whilst racing (apart from the junk-yard) to receive their affects. Refilling your boost in the Petrol Stations mid-race can be a nice benefit.
The biggest problem in Burnout, is that it's far too easy until you are working your way to obtaining your Burnout Licence. This means it takes around 6 hours to start posing a challenge, and even then, the difficulty seems hit and miss. Sometimes it will be easy, and other events seem like you have to complete them without crashing once.
The graphics are okay, and there's a damage model to show dents and deformities to your car. There's no driver in the car, which looks a bit silly when the camera pans around. The soundtrack is licensed from rock, electronic and classical songs. The title track of Guns N' Roses' Paradise City is sure to annoy, because even if you disable it in the options, it will still come on when you boot up the game.
Overall, Burnout Paradise is functional, but is boring by design. The only thing it has going for it is speed, but there's other games that have combined speed with destruction in a much better way such as Split/Second; which gives you more action and much more fun.