Smashing Stuff: Burnout Paradise Revisited

By John Walker on July 6th, 2009 at 10:00 am.

This awesome pic is from the Burnopedia - burnout.wikia.com

400 smashes and 120 billboards smashed, it’s crashed again. And I’m secretly hoping it will have taken my save game with it for a second time. I’ve got a horrible feeling I’ll end up starting a new save game otherwise, just so I can smash everything again. I have a bit of a problem, and it involves Burnout Paradise.

I like breaking stuff. Not in real life – the consequences are slightly too high. But when there’s a thing in a game you can gently tap and it excitingly asplodes, I can’t resist it. People complained that Max Payne 2 was too short. I say they clearly didn’t shoot and smash every object in every room before they moved on. Show me a game with breakable windows, and I’ll show you a game where I’ll waste bullets and health doing so. Perhaps it’s an OCD thing, maybe it’s purely about the immediate satisfaction of watching a thing crumple or smash, but whatever the motivation, there’s been nothing that so perfectly understands and tolerates this desire as Burnout Paradise. This is a game that not only provides me with hundreds and hundreds of opportunities, but celebrates and rewards this neurotic behaviour.

When I reviewed Burnout Paradise for PC Gamer I must have clocked at least 30 hours before I wrote the review, and then who knows how many more afterward. While I (rightly) criticised it for being lacking in variety of game types (just five offline modes starts to feel rather dramatically wanting when you’re being asked to race to the damned Wind Farm for the nineteenth time) and for failing to put enough carrots in the game to incentivize progress to the none-insane, there was no doubt it was love.

See it, tempting me?

Then, as is the case with so many games, others snuck in to replace it. The dripping of DLC for the game proved to be ludicrously overpriced and certainly didn’t inspire me to go back in. I knew it was there, but oddly enough it took the noise from the 360/PS3 release of Big Surf Island extra content to revive my desires. The island is a huge new area added to the city, filled with new tricks, treats, smashes and challenges, and it got a whole bunch of console players to revisit. Enough people around me chatting about it, playing it in lunch hours, tweeting about it, etc, and I booted it back up in the evening a couple of weeks ago. The PC doesn’t have the Island yet – and Criterion again have fallen into their demoralising habit of not acknowledging this, let alone offering a hint of a release date. (So many times have we received emails from their PR people announcing some new DLC, etc, only to have my queries as to whether it’s true for the PC version met with admissions that, no, it it’s not. When the front page for the PC site still has the words “Burnout Paradise PC will be available in February 2009″ in the top entry, it doesn’t bode well.) But despite the disappointment of this ghettoisation, there was stuff left to smash in my vanilla build of the game.

It only took a couple more evenings to clock my full Burnout license (received when you’ve completed approximately one hundred of the races/challenges) and find every billboard and all but four smash-gates. I should probably explain these:

Throughout the enormous and completely wonderful Paradise City there are billboards. Some of these are for real-world products like Burger King (while unfortunately cannot be destroyed – however, there’s enormous amounts of satisfaction to be had by driving Gillette vans off the road), 120 of them are bright red Burnout Paradise posters that just ache to be driven through. Many are elementary – ride the ramp near them, or just drive off the raised motorway exit, etc. But many require a degree of puzzle solving. Some can only be smashed when you successfully launch yourself from the correct ramp on the top of a nearby multistorey carpark. Others need you to discover an off-road route running behind buildings and through hills, leading to a dirt launch that when hit with enough velocity will propel you over a drop and plunge through its hoarding as you land.

I nicked this pic off the internet. I hope someone doesn't mind.

The smash-gates are even more plentiful. There’s 400 of these yellow metal fences blocking the entrances to shortcuts all over the city. Just tapping into one receives the declaration on screen of a successful smash. When you first start there’s so many of these you can’t move for bumping into one. They’re a constant source of destructive award. But the further you progress, the more elusive those last few become.

So it was with all 120 billboards broken and 396 smash-gates smashed that my PC crashed mid-game. Rebooting and reloading, it had forgotten me. Total amnesia, all my progress lost. And no way to recover it. I felt pretty bad about it. But part of me was delighted.

It’s been about a week and a half, and I’m proud to say (yes, proud) that all billboards and all smash-gates are complete once more. Such has been my ridiculously obsessive focus on clearing these that I’ve only just secured by A class license, a full 75 races/challenges away from the full Burnout License (which even then falls far short of the Burnout Elite License). I’ve got the most daft collection of cars, going from crappy to mid-range, and then suddenly leaping to the two super-swish vehicles awarded for completing both sets of destructions. This has led to the rather satisfying ability to win ever street race by about half the length of the island, ridiculously over-powered as I am with these cars.

The joy of Burnout Paradise is never getting to where you were heading. You might plan on entering a particular race, but something’s going to distract you on your way there. Perhaps it will be something to smash. Maybe it’s a Superjump you suspect you didn’t complete yet. It could be a whole other event. And possibly best of all, it’s a flashy car that goes flying past you, forcing you to skid around a corner and pursue it to drive it off the road, and thus add it to your collection. I love those moments, where a random event completely distracts me and suddenly I’m hellbent on winning this moment.

Hopping online is always another worthy exercise. You can always be sort of online, setting best times on stretches of roads and so forth competing against other players to break records. But the full online mode, hooking up with friends, gives you yet another reason to circumnavigate the island. Offering its own obsessive option, with around 400 mini-challenges to complete with buddies, you’ll find yourself scoring barrel rolls on the beach, then making your way to the other side of the city to try to leap through a concrete cylinder in a construction site, inevitably trying to knock each other off the road on the way.

I'm coming for you, my lovely!

And it just crashed again, in just the same way as lost my save game last time. I’m not sure what to think. I mean, I want the full license again, and I have the rather hopeless desire to find every Superjump the island has to offer (although I’m put off this by a) it not involving smashing anything, and b) there not being a clear indication whether it’s a jump I’ve completed before). I want to carry on playing online with chums and that requires having a decent car to keep up. I don’t want to be back to the rubbish starting cars. But… but! But it would mean all those yellow barriers would be standing again! All those deliciously red billboards would be unbroken, ready for me to burst through once more! A whole fresh island of things to find and destroy! Which will it be?

Burnout has broken my idiot brain in so many excellent ways. The other day when watching Liam Neeson struggling with his American accent inTaken, as he drove the wrong way up a motorway in an exciting car chase I informed my companions that he’d be building a lot of Boost doing all that Oncoming Traffic driving. Today, in fact, someone has leant me a car for four weeks while they’re out the country. I’m pleased to say that driving it to my home I never once had flashes of the game, or desires to destroy any advertising hoardings I passed (driving a car for the first time in six months gave me enough to concentrate on), but firing up Burnout when I got home this afternoon, my first crash was suddenly horrifying, with images of complicated insurance forms and devastated owners flying through my brain. (I’m particularly pleased about the first half of this, since it was playing GTA IV last year that gave me the impulse to drive into a police car – something I thankfully resisted. And they say videogames can negatively influence you!)

Screw the marked man, I'm going to get that one!

But here’s the worst of it. As I stare wistfully at the contents of the Big Surf Island pack, wishing they’d tell me when I could add it to my PC game, my eyes only focus on two things in the list:

* The Dust Storm Buggy available to drive straight away
* 8 Incredible New Cars to Win
* 15 Events (Including all New Island Tours)
* 10 Freeburn Challenges
* 12 New Roads to Rule
* 75 Island Smashes
* 45 Island Billboards
* 15 Island Mega Jumps

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50 Comments »

  1. Srejv says:

    If you like smashing you should try out the new Red Faction, but I don’t think it’s available for PC.

  2. Caboose says:

    It’s coming out soon enough. Rumor going around is that the environment will be destructible too, not just the buildings.

  3. MrBejeebus says:

    I remember doing a run through HL2 where I could only use my crowbar and had to break everything.

    I’m tempted to pick up Paradise, damn you RPS! I’d most likely get the console version though, I want my smashing to be stable and pretty…

  4. rocketman71 says:

    Yeah, yeah, but it still has no LAN, right?

  5. Glove says:

    I must say, Burnout Paradise was incredibly fun, if not at all intellectually stimulating. I absolutely loved the way it felt: like you were just clinging on to a fully-sized titanium armour-clad rocket grinding across the tarmac.

    God, it was such a pain having to put up with the disgusting idiocy of the thing, though. It just felt so wrong, all of the time; from the complete disregard of reasonable physics, to DJ Atomika / Guns ‘n’ Roses, to the disconcertingly limbo-esque world of Paradise City.

  6. blerg says:

    HEY HEY YOU YOU

  7. AndrewC says:

    I DON’T LIKE YOUR GIRLFRIEND

  8. The_B says:

    I too suffered another computer death last night, 3 billboards away from the lot. Assuming I get myself fixed tonight, I’ll be up for more T-Boning. Oh yes. Criterion, hear our cries for the Island, damnit!

  9. Waldkoenig says:

    Nice game in way. But the horrible camera ruined it for me. If one could just adjust it to be a little higher off the ground… and keep it there…

  10. Count Zero says:

    I never felt the urge to smash gates, but I did complete every race event in the game. At first I liked this burnout less than I liked revenge, mainly on account of what I thought was a confusing city layout, but then after 10 hours or so it just clicked with me. The crashing in this game is remarkably well done, but I get more satisfaction from near misses, and keeping my car intact at those enormous speeds. I guess that’s why the bikes are the most fun I’ve had in burnout paradise, being very fast and rewarding skilled driving. Any new bikes in the expansion or bike related stuff? If so I’ll definitely be playing it tonight.

    ps. do you guys ever feel that the early cars become redundant after you get new ones, which then become redundant and so on? are you always suppose to drive the latest car you get, or am I missing something?

  11. teo says:

    I tried the demo and really didn’t like the way the cars controlled. So arcady… besides, their key mappings were HORRIBLE. Shame on them

  12. M.P. says:

    Great game indeed, you catch a lot of why it’s so fulfilling! I’m also frustrated about Big Surf, and Cops and Robbers as well. Hope if enough people add to the comments here it might motivate Criterion to tell us wtf is going on with it! Come on Walker, flex those journalistic muscles!

    One thing I have to say disappointed me with this game is the lack of splitscreen. Burnout 3 with a friend was the most fun two people could have with gamepads (possibly excluding teledildonics). In fact, it’s probably the only PS2 game that actually tempted my mother to have a go. I was disappointed you couldn’t do that in Paradise – I haven’t played any good splitscreen co-op games on my PC since the LOTR fighting games.

    It’s perfectly understandable why they couldn’t have it: it’s an open-world game which means the two people playing splitscreen don’t have to stick to a track, they can go anywhere, and streaming two different versions of Paradise City would overwhelm the PS3′s or 360′s puny amounts of RAM. Still, would’ve been nice if the PC version had it!

  13. Howard says:

    Burnout: Paradise is an oddity. Sat on the shelf to my right are my PS2 copies of Burnout 1, 2, Takedown, Revenge and Dominator, all of which are played very extensively and all of which I loved.

    When Paradise was announced for PC I was ecstatic! 360 pad in hand I could not wait to get the little bugger installed and I thoroughly expected to lose endless days to doing the Burnout thing one more time but now with much improved graphics.

    Thing is though, after installing it I played for maybe an hour and was so nonplussed by the whole thing I never went back to it and have in fact never even bothered to install it again. I just cannot work out why…

  14. Optimaximal says:

    Two things annoy(ed) me about Paradise –

    Firstly, EA’s crappy awful online system meant I spent a good deal of my ‘interested’ game time trying to get it to let me create an account or use an existing one (including ones that worked happily in Spore, BF:Heroes etc). In the end, I abused Google’s gmail.com/googlemail.com indistinction to let it add my email address and create the account.

    Secondly, now I could log in, I hate it. There’s no instancing or levelling, meaning everyone is kicking my ass with their paid for Legendary cars, especially the Carson Knighthawk (K.I.T.T.) which is nigh-on indestructible and v. fast. It’s also incredibly laggy w. no dedicated servers.

  15. nakke says:

    TAKE ME DOWN TO THE PARADISE CITY

    If this game just jumped me straight to the car I would probably have played it at least twice as much.

  16. Frankie The Patrician[PF] says:

    There is something extremely pleasing about drivin’&smashin’ things while listening to Beethoven, Mozart, Verdi….

  17. minipixel says:

    Is it me or this game sounds like a grindfest?

  18. Maniac11919 says:

    @Srejv
    Red Faction Guerrilla comes out August 25th, and it’s wonderfully smash-tastic. John, you’ll love it.

    Source: http://pc.ign.com/objects/142/14235421.html

  19. Dee-G says:

    Article on lack of DLC for PC games possibly brewing at the end there? I certainly hope so, the PC gaming wold has been crapped on long enough.

  20. Jazmeister says:

    I played one Burnout game for about an hour (I was visiting somebody and they wanted me to prove I was a good gamer). So while my wife chatted with her, I got five stars (i think?) on all the courses and unlocked new shit. It was awesome! I think I was using one of those new-fangled Ecks Bocks things. I’ve only just remembered the whole affair.

  21. asphaltcowboy says:

    Don’t worry about those smashes and billboards John, you can get them all in the space of an hour or two, since everything is packed so incredibly densely on BSI. In fact, I think I’ve only got about 40 or so challenges before I’ve done literally everything in the game (minus the Party Pack achievements). Admittedly, it’s taken me nearly 200 hours to get this far! ;)

  22. bansama says:

    The game is great. I still play it from time to time — although my desire to is fast fading due to the lack of support and lack of interest from the devs for the PC version as being reminded of that just ruins the game. Case in point:

    The dripping of DLC for the game proved to be ludicrously overpriced and certainly didn’t inspire me to go back in.

    There’s also a bug connected to the DLC/EA accounts that incorrectly detect your geographical location. Meaning the only way you can buy the DLC is to work out which country it thinks you are in and then find a zipcode for that country. In may case, it insists I’m in the UK so when I want to buy DLC I have to pay the stupidly high UK cost even though it’s slightly cheaper in Japan.

    The devs seemingly don’t even want to acknowledge such problems connected to even purchasing the currently released DLC so I’m not surprised they don’t even bother to mention the new stuff.

  23. LewieP says:

    I’m only about 6/7 hours in, and love it to bits so far. Probably going to play some more later on today.

  24. Simon says:

    People complained that Max Payne 2 was too short. I say they clearly didn’t shoot and smash every object in every room before they moved on. Show me a game with breakable windows, and I’ll show you a game where I’ll waste bullets and health doing so.

    Good thing the PC doesn’t have the TimeSplitters games then eh? The arcade challenges in those games, especially the ones where you have to break every object in an area within certain time limits to unlock stuff could’ve kept you occupied for much too long then is healthy.

  25. zipdrive says:

    Senor Walker,
    How are you controlling the game? Keyboard and mouse or a wheel?

  26. John Walker says:

    360 controller.

  27. Rei Onryou says:

    The DLC issue is the reason why I’m holding out getting Burnout until I get myself a console. Until then, I’ll stick to my PC OCD issues.

  28. Flappybat says:

    I’ve been disappointed that nowhere has made noise about the second hand treatment of the PC. A weird situation overall as the port of the game itself was excellent.

  29. MrBejeebus says:

    Exactly what I was thinking Simon, I loved smashing windows with bricks (and in the game!)

  30. exor6st says:

    i too keep smashing things, i found all the smashes and billboards and completed a lot of showtime challenges only because of this (and take down runs etc). Im now stuck into red faction on ps3… spending so much time with my trusty hammer smashing things. i rocked up the hammering drones and blowing up gas tanks trophies so quickly.. again smashing things :)

  31. Muzman says:

    blerg says:
    HEY HEY YOU YOU

    Get off of my cloud?

  32. AndrewC says:

    lol muzman is so old

  33. ACESandElGHTS says:

    I love this game. What’s with the wack race editor though? Why have a figure-eight dirt track, an airfield, a closed-off quarry, but not be able to organize online races inside these places?

  34. Buemba says:

    Son of a… Man, I had already decided that I wouldn’t ever bother smashing all the billboards and gates, but now that I know the game rewards you with 2 new cars for doing so I can’t ignore them anymore.

  35. jalf says:

    Is the savegame corruption thing a known problem, or is it just your computer being wierd?

  36. phuzz says:

    I remember having problems back in the day, going from an all night Grand Turisimo marathon straight out to my (real) car. Yup, there was a reason the advertising told you not to do that.
    Also OpF has left me with a phobia of Mi-24 Hinds, and I have almost crashed trying to duck behind a building having seen one out of the corner of my eye.
    Damn you brain, and your inability to tell the difference between real and imaginary

  37. Clovis says:

    I’m also compeltely obsessed with breaking things. The first game I remember that allowed this a lot was Goldeneye. I spent hours and hours shooting all the glass beakers laying around. I’d line up shots to destroy as many at a time as possible. I also spent hours shooting the hats off of guards.

    I still do this. I just got Fallout 3. The first thing I do in almost any game is try to destory everything I can. I hate it when I strike a window with something hard and it just leaves a spiderweb crack decal. I also hoard in games. That sucked in Fallout 3 because there is SO much stuff you can pick up! And worse, unlike Oblivion, that junk is actually useful. What? I should have kept all those motorcycle gasoline tanks!! FFFFFFUUUUUUUUUUUUUUU

    I had a great idea for a business. A few motel rooms filled with normal stuff. The “guests” pay for a few hours in the room and they are allowed to break anything they want with a wide variety of tools.

  38. Drool says:

    I recently came back to Burnout and have had loads of fun doing challenges online. The community is smaller, but it seems to have shaped up a bit from when the game was first released.

    I’ve very disappointed in the shoddy treatment the PC version has received from Criterion. I really want to do those mega jumps on the island. For a company that seems to pride itself on taking care of its fans they really dropped the ball on supporting the PC version.

  39. Poltergeist says:

    Is this game good when I’m not planning to play online?

  40. Phil H says:

    Quite, Poltergeist, I’ve gone through it about 2 1/2 times now (intial go on a friend’s 360 for a while, then nearly complete on my PS3, then again on my PS3 when the Trophies patch hit and they failed to make the save games unlock the Trophies you’d have otherwise earned) and it was completely excellent each time, even though I’ve touched the online component but once or twice. If it ever gets a nice fat Steam discount, I’m sure I’ll pick it up for the PC and do it all over again.

    As to Big Surf Island, yes, you can do the stuff quite quickly, I’ve got just a hair over 4h15m on the island and that’s including some time spent doing the last of the Stunt Runs for my Elite license (the little dome thing on the beach is AMAZING for it).

    Burnout is such an amazing franchise- discovered it with Takedown and put in an ungodly number of hours, racking up well over 15000 takedowns, Revenge was solid fun but didn’t see near as much playtime due to the revamped menu system, and I’ve recently crossed the 7000 takedown mark on Burnout Legends on my PSP (with a few thousand more lost to an AWOL save).

  41. Gravey says:

    @Poltergeist: I second Phil H. BP is built around online (friends’ best times, best showtime records, seamless match-starting, “freeburn” dicking around), but not entirely for online. I’ve sunk well over 100 hours into the game and the island on the 360 and only gone online once (well, twice actually, it’s that easy to hop online) just to see how it worked.

  42. Gravey says:

    Edit: I mean the second time online was by accident, it’s that easy.

  43. Tricky says:

    STAAAAAAAAAND AND DELIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIVER!

  44. Wedge says:

    So what you’re saying is I have to get this for my 360 or suffer missing content and game breaking bugs? Well it’s not like I ever use that thing for anything else, so I guess.

  45. Poltergeist says:

    Guess I’ll try this then because everyone loves it so much!

  46. Matilda The Witch says:

    Did anyone noticed that the color palette of this game is too green? Gray objects like road should be gray, not green. Does it annoy anyone other than me? Look at the screenshots of ENBSeries, color correction makes this game much more realistic: http://boris-vorontsov.narod.ru/ss_burnp_en.htm

  47. Gutter says:

    @Matilda The Witch : It sent from green to gray… Not awesome at all.

  48. Gutter says:

    I am only missing my a few race for the Elite license, and (it shame me to say) I never found out how to do Showtimes.

    I didn’t make a single one playing the whole game. I pressed every freaking buttons, and never ever could do it… (thats on the PS3, in case someone wanna laugh at me and point me in the right direction)

  49. Dinger says:

    Gutter, if the control scheme is like the PC, you hit the L1 (normally change display info mode or something) and R1 (normally skip Guns and Roses) buttons at the same time to launch showtime mode.

  50. Andrew Duggan says:

    I’m lovin Burnout Paradise. I’m about 70 wins away from elite. Done all super jumps and billboards but have two smashes left to find.

    My only complaint about this game is when you fail at an event you can’t just restart it. You have to drive back to the beginning to restart it. This can get tiresome when you are concentrating on one event and redoing it over and over until you get it, (such as the GT500 burning route).

    Other than that, it’s fantastic.