Yeah, uh, there's no real story here.
Paradise City is the typical "All-American City" featuring loads of roads and even a freeway. From the hustle and bustle of Downtown Paradise to the rural switchbacks of White Mountain, there's a metric ton of blacktop for you to re-pave and pothole.
While the idea of a coastal city hitting into a very rural mountain setting, all in one city, is a bit unbelievable and is just generally insane, it's so well done you can't help but not notice the impossibility of it all.
It's plausible, at any rate, and not unheard of. Like, uh, Seattle... I think.
All the alleys and the twisting roads is very cool. There's even a shut down railway system you can drive along. All the construction also allows for all the ramps and holes.
Burnout Paradise takes from all the previous Burnouts for this one. It's a complete revamp. No physics have been recycled, no feature left unaltered. It's back to formula.
The majority of the game is spent in Freeburn. It's just free-roaming around Paradise City, exploring all the nooks and crannies of it all. While for a car game this could be incredibly boring and inane, remember this is Burnout.
Race through the traffic (or plow right through it), hit jumps, drop off bridges, race along the freeways and train tracks, and just have a blast. It goes further than that though. There are loads of secrets to find around Paradise. There's 400 Smash Gates (drive right through them to discover shortcuts or other things), 120 Billboards (plow through them for a Boost refill/increase), and 50 Super Jumps (ramps leading to extreme jumps). Not to mention 120 Events and the various Drive-Thrus around town. You'll be busy, that I can assure you.
When you're not Freeburning, you're playing Events or breaking Road Rules. Let's start with Events.
Events are split up into Races, Road Rages, Marked Mans, Stunt Runs, and Burning Routes. You activate them by going to a traffic light intersection and spinning your wheels.
Races are just a race against one, five, or seven other racers to a specific point in the City. You can take the main course... or pick your own route, however convoluted. That's right, there's no walls of arrows to keep you on course. It's all completely up to you how you get there. Awesome.
Road Rages are where you take your car and make scrap metal out of others, while they try to make scrap metal out of you. Takedown as many others as you possibly can before you take on too much damage. Again, you can take the battle all around town.
Marked Mans are Bizarro Road Rages. Basically, the other drivers have you in their crosshairs, and have super-tough cars to take you out. You, on the other hand, have to reach a point in Paradise before they beat you up too much. Once more, the whole town is open.
Stunt Runs are where you just try to pull off as many amazing stunts as you can. Jumps, spins, drifts, barrel rolls... a world of stunts before you. And once again, take your craziness across the town.
Burning Routes are races against the clock... with a twist. You must use a specific car to do the job. Emphasis on finding your own, faster route is placed on these, but if you win, you get a different, usually better version of the car you ran with.
And then the Road Rules. Each of the many streets in Paradise has a Speed Rule (race from one end of the street to the other as fast as you can) and a Showtime (basically the old Crash Mode on steroids, where you make your car roll around town using Boost and crashing into the daily commute).
You can even Freeburn online and play with your friends! When you take them down, you exchange mugshots if you have a special camera hooked up to the X-Box! And you can even get Road Rules from other racers, and even take them out in a Showtime event!
Wait, I'm still not done. The crash system is well improved. Sometimes, you can just drive away from a crash, just taking damage. The car even retains the crunches, dents, and lost doors. Amazing.
Hang on, the traffic system is also amazing. It will actually dodge out of the way now. Yes. They will scoot out of your way. And that ain't all. While it's a bit more... realistic than in Revenge, traffic checking is back. While if you take a head on plunge into most same-way you'll crash and burn, tougher cars can just plow through the small time traffic with ease.
Wait, there's more. There's three types of Boost! Stunt (typical, run-of-the-mill), Aggression (increases size with takedowns, decreases when taken down), and Speed (can't use until full, but can use Burnout Chaining to boost forever with dangerous driving).
Wait, that's still not all. Occasionally, other Burners will appear around town in their own rides. If you see them (they're easy to spot), shut them down to take their car and add it to your collection.
Wait, still not done. There's also four kinds of Drive-Thru. Junk Yards (switch your cars), Auto Repairs (repair your cars 100%), Gas Stations (refill Boost 100%), and Paint Shops (change your paint job).
Still not done. The more Events you clear, the higher level license you get. As you get higher level licenses, you'll unlock better cars, and get tougher Events, and the amount of traffic in Paradise also increases.
Is that it yet? Nope. Power Parking. Basically, it's parallel parking at 240 miles per hour with a 180 spin to face the right direction, without dinging anything. Yeah, it's possible.
It ain't over yet! There's also a Podcast for Crash FM, the in-game radio station. Subscribe, and even send in e-mails. If you're lucky, they'll be read live on the air! You'll also get the inside information on all things Burnout, straight from Criterion Games themselves!
Not it yet! Rest a bit and you'll be given Picture Paradise, a monochrome tour of Paradise City, without all the blistering racing and crashing and chaos. It's even accompanied by classical music by the likes of Bach and such. Wow.
Is that it? Is that everything? Looks like it...
Wow... amazing, ain't it?
Racing down the street in your compact, you hear the whine of the engine, begging you to stop, the blaze of the Boost, urging it on, the squeal of brakes as the daily commute tries to get out of the way.
When suddenly, BAM! You hit a wall at full speed, perpendicular, head on. You now hear the crunch of your compact further compacting. You start skidding along the ground, sparks left in your wake.
The sounds in the game are realistic, amazing, and of great quality. You want better? Good luck with that; these are the best racing game sounds you'll ever hear.
And the music? While the standard of contracted musicians is still carried over from Revenge, tracks from previous Burnouts made by Criterion return to make themselves known.
It's a world-class menagerie of music. And the best part? You can turn off the tracks you despise, and change the current one with the tap of an easily accessible button, in the middle of all the action, without skipping a beat. Amazing.
Oh, wait, and the music even gets a Treble high when you're airborne, and a Bass high when you crash. That's just cool.
And during Picture Paradise, classical music plays, like at an orchestra. Soft, calming music, at that. Huh. Cool.
You use very few buttons on the controller. Thank God for that. It's really easy to control your car... if you have a controllable car, that is. Some cars are tougher to handle than others, so you'll be using your brakes to drift... which is easy to do. Boosting is a snap. It's almost like the controller was molded for this game.
B-E-A-Utiful. The cars shine in the sun. They pile up damage. Shards of glass fly everywhere. They dent. They fall apart. They spark and explode and... wow.
The textures are also surprisingly detailed for a blistering racing game... then again, you do spend a lot of time crashing.
Oh, the visual effects are just plain cool. When you crash, everything tints blue, unless you wreck, in which case, it's... well, I don't know what it is. It's halfway between vivid color and monochrome. It's... odd.
It doesn't stop at crashes. In the Events where you have health, the view also gets the same odd effect as you take damage. In Showtime, it also holds true as you run out of boost.
Come on. So many unlockables, X-Box Live, Road Rules, all that jazz. This game has unlimited replay! How can you not want to replay, even after you've gotten the best license? The game isn't over yet, pal!
It's never over!
Casual games will like the game for its easygoing pace, hardcore gamers for the blistering speed you can reach in mere seconds. All the unlockables will keep even the most hardcore of the hardcore working. Heck, I've barely hit 50%, and I've got a Class A license and have played since the day after release!
Burnout Paradise has done what I thought was impossible. It surpassed Burnout Revenge as one of the most solid, amazing racing experiences ever.
I stand by what I said before. While you weirdos may pick your Twilight Princess or your Halo 2 for the greatest game of all time...
Burnout Paradise is built on the foundations of fun. You play this game not to beat it, but to have more fun than you could ever think possible. Even when you get beaten by other racers online, you'll do one thing. Not scream. Not yell. Laugh.
And after all, isn't that what we need the most?