Saturday, February 21, 2009

Let's Talk About Games: The Sony Consoles, pt.1 - Burnout Paradise by Ichimonji

Playstation 3

Burnout Paradise

Before discussing the actual contents of this game I just want to point out how cool it is that I can download the entire game and all of its DLCs in one package on the Playstation Network. Which is, of course, exactly what I did. Just to clarify, Burnout Paradise is a retail game, but you can also download it if you wish on the PSN. I actually debated about this for a little while because I adore my collection of retail games and I love having my collection on display. Although, I was persuaded into this method for two reasons: I didn’t have to go to a store to purchase it (see: laziness), and it’s automatically saved to my hard drive so I can instantly switch between playing Burnout and a disc formatted game.

Another thing that’s really cool about Burnout Paradise is that it’s only $19.99. That’s astounding. If you’ve played this game, you’ll understand that it’s easily worth a $50-60 investment. I mean, I see games out on shelves like Alvin and the Chipmunks for PS2 and WarioWare: Smooth Moves selling for $30 or $50. That’s ludicrous. Yes, I know WarioWare is actually a really good game. I’ve played a lot of it. However, taken directly from Casey’s mouth “It could easily be a downloadable game” and it’s not worth $50. With the amount of content in Burnout Paradise, they’re basically giving you this game.

Anyway, let’s talk about what you can do in this fantastically affordable title. In this installment they pretty much changed up the entire Burnout formula. It’s now a sandbox title where you can cruise around a massive city and take on whatever missions or challenges you choose. There are a ton of things to do at any given moment. Firstly, you can complete the events, which range from timed, skill, speed, or racing challenges. There are 120 of them around Paradise City, and every time you complete one, it adds a notch to your driver’s license. You start your license with a learners permit and you work your way up the grades from D to A until you get your Burnout license, in which you’ll have beaten the game. By “beaten” I mean that’s when the credits roll, I don’t mean that’s all there is to do, but I’ll come back to that later. When you complete a certain amount of events you’ll get a notification that a type of vehicle is driving around the city. When this happens you can choose to find it and take it down in order to forever obtain it. This is how you get the majority of your vehicles. The other way to get vehicles is to meet certain requirements, for instance, getting a license upgrade will give you a new car which will be left in your junk yard. If you don’t feel like doing events, you can go and find the majority of collectibles, such as: billboards, yellow fences, and super jumps.

As I mentioned earlier, Paradise City is pretty big. It’s beautifully designed too. It’s divided into five different districts going from such scenery as the heart of the city, the port, the country and et cetera. You can tell that they took their design from many popular real life cities. I’ve noticed similarities to New York (what a surprise, right), Vancouver, Madrid, and I’m sure some part of Texas. It all looks very detailed and just simply well crafted. I found that the construction was perfect and I could just enjoy myself by cruising around and finding new areas. Although you can totally tell that the city was created for the sole purpose of stunts and drag racing as there are jumps, broken freeways, and conveniently structured roads scattered everywhere. Paradise City isn’t nearly as big as Liberty City from GTAIV, but it’s definitely big enough to get lost in. Oh, and while I’m on the topic, the graphics are amazing as well.

If you’re a big Burnout fan and you’re wondering “Man, this doesn’t sound like Burnout at all”, well don’t you worry, because it still has Showtimes. At any point in time you have the option to press L1 and R1 at the same time which will seamlessly switch into this mode called: Showtime. Once you’re in this phase your goal is to crash into as many cars as possible by repeatedly tapping the X button as you guide the direction of your car. It’s definitely a lot easier and faster to rack up the points in this installment, but then again they’ve also changed the entire scheme for this game, so it kind of fits with the pace. Also, when you crash your car at any given point in the game, whether it be a Showtime or not, it is absolutely awesome. The crashes are so brutal; it’s kind of a good thing that there are no people driving the cars.

Every car has their own unique time trial to complete. After you’ve done so, you’ll be awarded an upgraded version of that type. There are 75 different vehicles to attain, not including the DLC packs. Every car is classified in one of three ways: stunt, speed, and aggression. I think those categories speak for themselves. I personally prefer the Speed class cars, because they’re the only ones that can do burnouts, the handling is amazing, and they are, well, fast. The aggression types might be strong but they can’t turn corners worth shit. I don’t really have anything against the stunt type cars; they’re just not fast enough. I like ‘em fast. In addition to all these cars you can also choose a few motorcycles to ride on, however, the game is served to you with an entire different style if you’re going with this. With bikes, you can’t do any events; you’re pretty much just limited to beating the fastest running time per street, called a Road Rule. You can still collect whatever you want around the city though. If you’re a fan of getting trophies then I wouldn’t recommend touching the bikes until you do all the trophy requirements for the cars, because it seems that a lot of trophies are glitchy in this game. Criterion really needs to sort that out.

If you bored of the single player stuff, you can also go online with up to eight players and do some co-op events or challenges. There are 490 regular and timed events to do online, and they actually mix it up, so you’re not just doing the same thing over and over again. That’s the best part; it’s not really repetitive. Of course you don’t have to just do events; you can race with each other, or do a variety of games like: Marked Man (cops and robbers) or Stunt Run. You can also just compete for high scores for like barrel rolls and air time and things like that. It’s great fun. I actually think that the online aspect is one of the strongest areas of Burnout Paradise.

So, how long does it take to get your Burnout License and ‘beat’ the game? Probably about 16-18 hours if you’re not doing anything else. But you’ll most likely be doing other things; if you’re not then I don’t think you understand the concept for this type of game. But anyway, once you’ve gotten the license, they immediately give you the option for try for the Burnout Elite License for even more cars and etc. This is literally a game that keeps on giving. Not just for that reason, but because Criterion keeps releasing these DLC packs. A little while ago they released the Party Pack for $7.99 where you can play with up to eight players locally (not online) and pass the controller around while you compete with each other by performing various mundane tasks. It’s fun, yes, but I don’t think it’s worth $7.99. I bought it anyway because of the crazy amount of easily attainable silver trophies that you can get (I’m a trophy whore). I forgive them for this though, because the actual game is only $19.99. Another pack that they just released only yesterday is a set of four legendary cars for $1.99 each except for one which is $3.99. I bought two of the $1.99 cars. One was really shitty and I immediately regret buying, but the other, the Nighthawk (Speed class of course), is amazing. I use the Nighthawk for everything and it was a breeze to get all the trophies with. That one is my baby and totally worth two bucks. I think the $3.99 car is a hover car or something crazy, but I personally don’t feel that any single vehicle is worth four dollars.

Of course though, this is a videogame and no videogame is perfect. There are always faults. First of all, the censorship in this game is ridiculous. I mentioned before that there are no people in the cars. There are actually no people anywhere. It kind of feels like the movie Cars, except the cars don’t speak. And they don’t look childish. And they crash into things all day. When you look at the city in this perspective, it all seems so bleak. It’s a good thing that you have a human radio DJ that speaks to you from time to time to remind you that there’s life in this fair city. Apparently the reason for this is because Criterion didn’t want to show people what it would actually look like in a real car crash. The censorship doesn’t stop there. They bleep out the album name in Avril Lavigne’s ‘The Best Damn Thing’. Yeah, ‘damn’ is a swear according to this game. Damn is a word that is carelessly passed around in Saturday morning cartoons for gods sake. It’s kind of hard to take in all of the ‘cool attitude’ vibe that they send out seriously, when they have to censor themselves so much. Speaking of Avril Lavigne, the soundtrack is pretty bad. For starters, you don’t have that much of a selection. There are less than forty songs that are extremely oddly matched which no radio DJ should ever have playing on the same station. It especially sucks for people who only enjoy one or two genres of music, because they literally only have one or two songs per genre. It’s weird. It’s like they tried pleasing everybody by adding every style of music, but ended up just adding nutmeg and cyanide poison to mushroom soup. They added some Saosin and Killswitch for people like me, then it goes too some catchy beats which I don’t mind like N.E.R.D. and The Styles, and goes directly into classical music, which they play for like fifteen songs in a row. Again, it’s weird. Other than that, it’s all good. Sometimes certain events can get frustrating, but you can quickly solve that problem by switching cars.

Well, you may or may not know, but I received my first platinum trophy via this game just today. It turns out that you don’t need all of the bike trophies or the online trophies in order to get it. I’m not sure what exactly you need, since I had thought that the bike trophies were part of the original trophy line-up, but it was far less than I had imagined. This makes Burnout Paradise the easiest to get platinum in my mind. I had thought that the easiest was Prince of Persia or Uncharted, but both of those games require multiple playthroughs and you can easily get the platinum in Burnout in about twenty hours. It was definitely really fun to obtain though. I’m not even close to being done with this game too. I still feel the need to get some of the extra trophies and do the online challenges. Anyway, I think I’ve talked about everything I want to in the Burnout front. So yeah, I like this game. A lot.

~ Ichimonji | LJ

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