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Burnout Paradise Isn't The Burnout Game That Needed Remastering

It's a great game, but not the best Burnout game.

Opinion by Mike Williams, .

Having thrown a great deal of time into Burnout Paradise Remastered over the weekend, I can say it's a decent remaster. It's not the best one ever put together, but it brings the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 original up to current standards.

Burnout Paradise Remastered runs at 1080p on PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, with 4K resolution support for PlayStation 4 Pro and Xbox One X. It's still 60fps like the original iteration, but the textures don't feel like a huge improvement, outside of a change in some billboards. It includes all of the downloadable content available for the original release, including Big Surf Island, Cops and Robbers, and Burnout Bikes.

If you have Burnout Paradise: The Ultimate Box on PC, I'd say there's not much you're getting out of this new release except the platform. The biggest change is a removal of the soft filter over the original game, which added a weird shimmer and isn't present in the Remastered edition. Overall, the image quality is cleaner here. It doesn't feel like enough for the $20 premium though: Ultimate Box on Steam is $19.99, while Remastered is $39.99 on Xbox One and PlayStation 4.

Burnout Paradise Remastered is a weird gateway into nostalgia; those opening chords of Guns N' Roses "Paradise City" transport me back to 2008 when I first picked up a controller to play Burnout Paradise. It was the latest Burnout, leaving behind the linear tracks and courses of the previous entries for that shiny new open-world that every publisher was jumping in on. (Rockstar had been doing it for years with the Midnight Club games.) Burnout Paradise was new, with online lobbies and the ability to stop at any traffic light in the city to take part in one of the many events. It was probably ahead of its time.

Take me down to the Paradise City...

Racing around the city in Burnout Paradise isn't just a measure of your reflexes and handling, it also illustrates of your understanding of Paradise City itself. You need to get from point A to point B before anyone else and part of making that happen is knowing the shortcuts, jumps, and hidden entrances on every street and back alley. As you complete events, you learn more about Paradise City in an organic way; taking those lessons to heart is what separates being good from being great.

Held up against today's modern racers, there's nothing else quite like Burnout Paradise Remastered. The arcade racer is all but dead these days. After Burnout Paradise, the genre tried to stay relevant in 2010 with Bizarre Creations' Blur and Black Rock Studio's Split/Second, both of which underperformed and marked the death of their respective studios. Evolution Studios took its last shot in 2011 with MotorStorm: Apocalypse on PlayStation 3. For the most part, publishers left behind the arcade racer to focus on more realistic racers.

Even the best modern entry into the concept, Forza Horizon, lacks the hard edge and wild abandon of this era of arcade racers. If you put Forza Horizon and Burnout Paradise side-by-side, you see the connective tissue in terms of open-world racing, but they're very different games. Forza Horizon is the good, upstanding kid; licensed cars, bright colors, and a damage model that only goes so far. Forza Horizon wants to get in the dirt occasionally, but just to show that it can.

Feel that grit.

Burnout Paradise is grit and rock. It's about racing around a corner above 100mph, checking an opponent so they spin out and crash, catching that sick jump, and boosting across the finish line. The unlicensed cars are colorful, but the city itself is rendered in green and grey. It feels old and lived-in, an analog for the car-loving city of Detroit, Michigan, while still holding onto a bit of that Los Angeles attitude.

Burnout Paradise has just enough of the modern era of racing design to fit into 2018 as an alternative. It makes logical sense to remaster to it. The problem is it's not the best Burnout game.

We Have to Go Back!

Burnout Paradise retains enough of the identity of what made Burnout great—the intense speed and the crashing—but it's a very different style of game. The previous Burnouts are completely linear racers, giving players a track or single event in which to prove themselves. Whether that was a standard race, a Grand Prix, a crash-heavy Eliminator race, the last-man standing Road Rage, or the classic Burning Lap, previous Burnouts were about picking an event and retrying it until you had it down. (You couldn't retry in Paradise originally, thought Criterion added the option later.) Of course, there were also the series-signature Crash courses, where you had to steer a bouncing, careening wreck into traffic to cause maximum damage.

Fans are a bit divided on which title is the best Burnout between the two entries that preceded Burnout Paradise: Burnout Revenge and Burnout 3: Takedown. The latter tends to get the edge over Revenge, though I enjoy the latter a bit more because of the full inclusion of Traffic Checking. (The ability to launch random traffic out of your way to make space or wreck other racers.)

Where both games excel over Burnout Paradise is in their focus. Since there's no open-world to explore, Revenge and Takedown are distilled down to just their events. Every event is tailored to specific tracks, which players choose via either game's Crash Nav menu. These older Burnout games have a purity that's sometimes lost in modern racers. You don't need to know about this extra shortcut or facet of the open-world map. The course is right there in front of you; learn it, get better, and beat it next time.

If you can't beat em... oh, you can beat em. [Burnout 3 Takedown]

The tracks are crafted for maximum racing action, each turn built for a drift, open sprint, or crash-heavy pile-up. In Paradise, there are specific events, but you don't always get the feeling that the race course was built solely for the race, because every "course" has to intersect with others in a cohesive whole. Paradise feels like they built the city and then tried to figure out where certain race types might fit. Takedown and Revenge feel like the events belong in their respective locations.

There's something awesome about beating your best time in a Burning Lap by a few seconds or powersliding around a corner that had been giving you trouble just a few weeks ago. Burnout Paradise has you learning and mastering the overall city, but previous Burnout games have you learning the tracks themselves. They each had a fingerprint, a specific feeling they were trying to impart upon the player. You had favorites wanted to stick with and tracks you simply tried to avoid.

The lack of open-world meant these tracks were allowed to be more varied; since Criterion didn't have to worry about the city feeling like a cohesive whole, they were allowed to get more inventive. Takedown and Revenge have courses in various fictional locations in North America, Europe, and Asia, giving players unique flavors to their racing. It feels like you're traveling the world, rather than being stuck in a single city, which for all its expanse can feel a bit familiar after a while.

Yay, locations! [Burnout Revenge]

Takedown and Revenge feel better as arcade racers because they're just about racing or crashing. Paradise is a great game, but it's also trying to appease another master by offering open-world exploration. Paradise wants you to collect things. It wants you to hunt for Smashes, Billboards, and Jumps, with a pause menu counter that keeps track of it all. Takedown and Revenge skip most of that. You race and crash to unlock better vehicles to race and crash in. No mess in your way.

That's something that's sometimes missing in modern racers. I love cruising around in Burnout Paradise and Forza Horizon, just messing around, enjoying the soundtrack, and taking in the vibe. But sometimes I just want to race in a track built just for racing. Sometimes I want to get my demolition derby on in a course built for crazy destruction. I just want to pick the race I want to do instead of dealing with the open-world busywork of driving there.

Which Burnout would I have remastered? Revenge saw a release on Xbox 360, so that probably would be the easier game to remaster, but I think fans would probably prefer a remaster of Burnout 3: Takedown. More folks see it as the highpoint of the franchise and it doesn't sit that far behind Revenge in terms of overall content. It's got a ton of cars, a nice spread of locations, and one of the best soundtracks overall. A remaster of Burnout 3: Takedown might take more work, but I feel the reward would pay off in the end, providing an arcade experience we just don't get anymore.

Sometimes you just want to crash. [Burnout 3 Takedown]

Burnout Paradise Remastered is pretty good, if a bit pricey, but Burnout 3: Takedown was the game that Electronic Arts should've remastered. And someone out there really needs to bring back that classic Burnout experience, even if it's under a different name.

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Comments 19

  • Avatar for Fourfoldroot #1 Fourfoldroot 2 months ago
    Pure track racers are always better than open world holidays, burnout (and this article) demonstrates this perfectly.
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  • Avatar for Number1Laing #2 Number1Laing 2 months ago
    I think burnout 3 would have been more like a full remake, which is a lot more work. And why it wasn’t done surely.

    I don’t know why EA chose this game of all games to port. It seems extremely unnecessary seeing as two of the three versions have a perfectly good way to play the original (360 version is BC). I will say that ultimate box on PC doesn’t have Big Surf Island, up to you of course if that one DLC (which is pretty good) is worth the higher price.
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  • Avatar for Godots17thCup #3 Godots17thCup 2 months ago
    Burnout Revenge was my introduction to the series, and dang, if it wasn't some of the most fun I've ever had with a racing game; it was thrilling and ridiculous in the best ways, and was, like most arcade racers, pretty easy to jump into. It was basically everything I wanted in a racer. That we never got a follow-up that built on what Revenge and Takedown established is a real shame.

    Really, the fall of the arcade racer in general has been a bit of a bummer for me; that was always the side of the racing genre that I gravitated to and now they barely exist anymore.
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  • Avatar for UnskippableCutscene #4 UnskippableCutscene 2 months ago
    Nope. Aftertouch and Crashbreaker are bad. The idea of air control for a flaming wreck of a car is just too "video game-ey" for me, and the fact that your flaming wreck suddenly turns into a car bomb to continue to tilt around like a pinball just seemed like too much of a cheat.

    Burnout Paradise isn't my favorite of the games, that was Burnout 2, but I have no interest in reviving 3 and Revenge because of those mechanics. Part of the fun of the wreck is watching it spill out on and on like a Rube Goldberg machine, and aftertouch/crashbreaker just made it too frequent.

    I realize I am dumping on some people's favorite games with this post, but this is one of those game mechanics discussions where I feel weirdly passionate about this small thing turning me off a series, just like Power-Up Redistribution soured me on every Mario Kart after the first one.Edited 3 times. Last edited March 2018 by UnskippableCutscene
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  • Avatar for ArugulaZ #5 ArugulaZ 2 months ago
    Heh, I know people out there who are total Burnout snobs, regarding the first two games as the pinnacle of the series and bitterly complaining that EA made the game dumb and chaotic with subsequent entries. I'm not saying those people are fun to be around, but they exist.
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  • Avatar for MHWilliams #6 MHWilliams 2 months ago
    @UnskippableCutscene Aftertouch is amazing *because* it feels so gamey.
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  • Avatar for WiIIyTheAntelope #7 WiIIyTheAntelope 2 months ago
    I'd prefer a Master Chief Collection style compilation of Burnout 1-3 myself. Just imagine being able to pick any of those great tracks, pick your favorite car, and then pick a ruleset from whichever game you like best, now that would be glorious.

    Now that, I would drop $60 on in a heartbeat.

    A $40 remaster of Paradise, hellllll no. Call me when it's $5.

    Particularly when the "remaster" is simply a port that runs in higher res with essentially no other improvements. I already have The Ultimate Box on PC. Which I got for literal pocket change in a bundle.
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  • Avatar for moochan #8 moochan 2 months ago
    I feel I hate on Paradise a bit too much but I feel it is mostly because of how you put it. They created a giant map and tried to see how they could make a Burnout game with said map. And some worked better than others. And some too more time than it should personally. Takedown and Revenge is more about the full arcadey racing experience and crash mode is more puzzle focus with certain cars scattered and you have to find the best outcome. While Paradise crash mode felt more like a left behind idea because of how randomize everything was which just made it a unfun mode to play.

    That being side Paradise is fun for it's time but as time moves on I look at Paradise as a game that where everything needed to be open world no matter what. And some games feel like it had to be open world even if the game really shouldn't have had it like LA Noire.
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  • Avatar for LBD_Nytetrayn #9 LBD_Nytetrayn 2 months ago
    I don't care how, be it remaster, remake, or just Xbox One backwards compatibility, I just want to play Burnout 3 again on modern hardware.
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  • Avatar for NiceGuyNeon #10 NiceGuyNeon 2 months ago
    The ideal scenario would have been to package Takedown and Revenge together. I've always been partial to Revenge, but certainly Takedown being a Xbox/PS2 game would have benefited from a remake of sorts tremendously.
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  • Avatar for BellyFullOfHell #11 BellyFullOfHell 2 months ago
    First two for me. Best track design and handling. 3s tracks sucked and they ruined Crash mode. Revenge had so much going on that it was made stupidly easy.
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  • Avatar for DrCorndog #12 DrCorndog 2 months ago
    I had Revenge on PS2. It was completely and thoroughly dull. Burnout 3 is were the series really changed gears. I've heard many say that Burnout 2 is the best i the series, and based on my experience with Burnout 1 (unassuming but satisfying) vs. Revenge (attractive but vapid), I'm inclined to agree.
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  • Avatar for TheWildCard #13 TheWildCard 2 months ago
    Never played Paradise despite owning it from PS+ cause I had had my fill of Burnout when it came out. Wasn't crazy about the open world turn at the time either. Should give it a go sometime.
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  • Avatar for Ingonyama70 #14 Ingonyama70 2 months ago
    I tried Paradise when it was released as one of Xbox 360's "Games With Gold", but I was just kind of confused and bored by it.

    Takedown was the only non-Mario Kart racing game I ever really, truly, unironically enjoyed. An updated rerelease of that demolition derby would have been fantastic...failing that, an actual Burnout sequel that hearkened back to that glorious carnage.

    ...I am not a good driver. I miss having a game that celebrated that in my library.
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  • Avatar for Frosty840 #15 Frosty840 2 months ago
    Feels odd to say the arcade racer is dead. There's the Need For Speed series, The Crew and its soon-to-release sequel and a fair number of indie titles. And Mario Kart.

    The Ubisoft and EA offerings might be distastefully jam-packed with microtransactions, but they're certainly *around*.
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  • Avatar for robertchesley19 #16 robertchesley19 2 months ago
    Thanks for mentioning how great the Burnout 3 soundtrack is. My favorite punk playlist is actually the Burnout 3 OST.
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  • Avatar for pennybags #17 pennybags 2 months ago
    Yeah... frankly I hated Burnout Paradise.
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  • Avatar for pennybags #18 pennybags 2 months ago
    @Number1Laing Maybe so, but I at least wouldn't mind paying full price for it.
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  • Avatar for Galgomite #19 Galgomite 2 months ago
    IMO Burnout 3 only needs a resolution update. Like some of the classic AM2 3D arcade titles I think the texture work and models deserve to stay as they are.
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