The Games Of Christmas: December 5th

The fifth door on our our incredible seasonal advent calendar doth tremble. But why should that be? What kind of machine lies behind it that would shake the very earth? Follow the hand of the one true leader of the Autobots as we discover the fifth of our games of the year…

Burnout Paradise!

This time around we catch Jim and John having a good old chinwag about the game:

Jim: Yes, this really did come out in 2009 on PC. Crazy, but true. And you know, I totally played the hell out of it, again, which is unusual for me and racing games. Usually they have to have something else going on – like I am trying to beat someone, or it’s specifically for review. But this I just too great pleasure in sampling, like a tasting menu in a restaurant.
John: Yup, me too. I can’t think of another racing game I’ve persisted with beyond discovering that I couldn’t run over the crowd or drive the wrong way down the track. Which I guess makes sense, since in Burnout I can absolutely do what I want, and if that’s to drive off at right angles to the race because I see a yellow gate on the horizon that I need to crash into, that’s fine. Although there’s no crowds to run over.
Jim: That city-inhabited by cars thing does get a spooky when you notice it, but the game is beautiful like that: the secret courses that run through the heart of the city are a delight when you discover them. It’s so *designed* for racing that you almost don’t notice it.
John: And if anything, the racing’s too easy. I mean, I of all people shouldn’t have to deliberately take a ridiculous route (perhaps along a train track) to make the race more tense. But then, I get to take a route along a train track, and the game doesn’t mind. But for me BOP (hooray!) is about smashing stuff. How about you?
Jim: Well I think I mostly enjoyed the A to B racing. Finding your way through an environment that isn’t linear, and isn’t a track. That’s why I particularly gravitated towards the bikes – in which the city is geared to even higher speeds, by not having any cars – so that I would just sprint across the landscape, and beat my best times. For you it became more hi-score-tablish, didn’t it? You were *completing* bits of it?
John: Yes, the bikes held almost no interest for me, as there was nothing to smash. For me it was about breaking every red sign and every yellow barrier, and if there was a race that took me from one area to another, it was a convenient way to get there. I would genuinely cut off any map-wide race from far in the lead if I saw a barrier I’d previously missed (often falling for the tricksy trick of an optical alignment where the gap from the previously knocked down barriers looked filled in – leading to my second policy of reversing around, knocking down each set properly on a second tour, trying to find those last few). Do I sound obsessive and crazy? Are you backing away?
Jim: A little bit, because I’ve never really had that “super-tidying-up” impulse in games, where people want to collect/smash/kill/defeat/buy everything in a given game. But I do kind of understand it: it’s the satisfaction of mastering something. I think I’m more interested in just exercising my racing skill. Moving on a bit: the other thing that I loved about Burnout was that they released the whole game as a demo. It was brave and realistic. They said “sure, it’s going to be pirated, but at least everyone gets to play some free this way”. Which I think is, perhaps, a lesson to all those open-world games that say “oh we can’t possibly do a demo.”
John: It was severely time-limited though, right?
Jim: Yeah, it was a couple of hours or so.
John: But presumably that’s easily hacked.
Jim: Yes, but it was equally easily paid for. Credit card number and the game is already installed.
John: Nevertheless, I wish they’d show a bit more love for the PC. They started off so well. But then promises of DLC have now started to be met with nothing but suspicion. Big Surf Island? Cops and Robbers? All promised this year.
Jim: Suspicion seems true of all DLC stuff though. I feel that entire area is going through severe growing pains, especially on PC. No one seems to have worked out the right model. And Burnout’s failture on PC is certainly an ugly oversight. Nevertheless, this is one of the best racing games this year. We’ll be mentioning the other ones later in our yearly awards, no doubt.
John: We may, but I doubt I’ll be having much to say. Burnout for me is the best a driving game could ever be. It’s borderline a third-person platform game.


  1. FupDuk says:

    I loved this game for about a month or so, but when the DLC didn’t appear, Big Surf Island etc… I lost interest. Might fire it up again soon though as it’s been a while. I liked the races where you made other cars crash, great slow-mo action.

  2. nine says:

    This game really didn’t set me on fire… thought it was a waste of money actually! I’ve never been really into racers but I much prefer the ones with a proper career mode and the RPG car tuning stuff.

    • Dominic White says:

      It sounds like you’re pretty much the polar opposite of the kind of person who’d like a Burnout game. Why did you even buy it in the first place? Just a quick look at gameplay videos and reviews could have told you what you needed to know.

      Anyhow, it’s a great game. That said, I’m happy I got the PS3 version, as while it’s not QUITE as pretty, it does have all the DLC and there’s a solid playerbase, along with fantastic online integration. Going from tooling around the city offline to playing with a ton of other people is literally just a matter of tapping right on the D-pad three times. No loading screens, no menus, just people popping up around your game instantly.

      Why does no other game make it so easy?

  3. James G says:

    Whoops! I misread that as ‘Big Smurf Island’ and assumed the game was doing something even more unconventional.

    • RobF says:

      I would pay proper money for Smurfs in Burnout. Someone pick up the hotline to Criterion pronto.

  4. Sagan says:

    Wow I totally forgot Burnout. That was a great game.

    I think the only reason I ever stopped playing was that sometimes you would lose a race due to a crash that wasn’t your fault and then you would even have to watch your car get destroyed in slow motion while you just want to continue driving. Over the many hours that I played that must have happened often enough, that I simply got annoyed at the game.
    I would buy DLC that would allow you to skip those crash animations.

  5. Heliocentric says:

    Strange story, i own 2 copies of this. Never booted it up once.

  6. Gutter says:

    I love Burnout.

    It always felt like being in Disney’s Cars, in a city with sentient cars. I even refused to play with the motorcycle because the dude on it just felt wrong.

  7. St4ud3 says:

    This game totally ruined the song Paradise City for me. After hearing it so many times while playing the game, I just can’t hear it anymore :(

  8. manveruppd says:

    John and Jim, what did you mean by “failure”? Did the PC version not sell enough units, or did you just mean the fact that they haven’t yet released the DLC for the PC?

  9. Glove says:

    Perhaps a little unforgiving of me, given how fun the driving/exploring/flying/smashing/crashing/collecting actually is, but BOP seemed far too alien and sinister. The revolting music, humanity-vapid atmosphere, and loneliness just kind of got to me in a really disturbing way.

  10. DMJ says:

    I played this at a friend’s house a looong time ago on his 360. It captivated us utterly, with both of us screaming at the screen and each other as we took turns passing the controller back and forth. It was fantastic fun.

    But I never had the temptation to buy it on PC. And even over at my friend’s place, we’ve never felt the urge to pull out BOP, despite the fun we had. I don’t think I’ll ever work out why, but it was immense fun while playing but lacked any form of incentive to return once it was switched off.

  11. jsutcliffe says:

    I have it on my Xbox, and for some reason can’t muster much enthusiasm for it — it seems like it gets impossible to control at high speed, but maybe I just need to practice.

  12. CMaster says:

    I don’t like Racing games.
    BUt I picked up Burnout Paradise for like £3.75 or something in one of the EA store sales.
    And I love it. Awesome game in the feeling of speed, the sense of out and out fun and that they’ve even tried to make failing as fun as possible with spectacular crashes and minimal punishment. On the downside, a lot of the “race” modes outside of the standard race aren’t much fun (I’m looking at you, Marked Man, especially when the enemies always use one of the best cars even when you are in the starter car) and later Road Rages are easy but very tedious.

    I do think it would be much more fun played on a PS3 with a big TV and the chance to get some of the better DLC packs.

  13. Matt W says:

    The important thing about BOP is it’s not a racing game, it’s a driving game – and it’s a clear demonstration of why those are not both the same thing.

  14. rocketman71 says:

    This game still has no LAN, despite the fact that it was heavily publicised.

    Never give money to developers that don’t give us proper ports.

  15. Dave says:

    So it’s a console-to-PC port… how is the control with a gamepad? Because I hated GRiD with a fiery passion thanks to its crap crap crap crap controls and interface. Waste of a pretty graphics engine.

  16. Vinraith says:

    I had no idea the DLC hadn’t been released for PC. I suppose that means this should go on the “to buy on that far-off day when I get around to picking up a next gen console for $99” list. Bummer, I really adore the Burnout games.

  17. Lilliput King says:

    Thought Grid worked pretty nicely with a 360 pad, lotta fun. I’m not much of a racing game enthusiast though, as I find the majority of ’em so dull I crave death by about half way through the very first race.

    Hivemind’s words make me feel like I should give BOP a go, though.

  18. Dinger says:

    BOP hate list:
    1. Music. Product assembled by suits with demographic charts and payola accounts. I still have no idea why I enjoy the song about Estonia.
    2. They removed the cutscene wherein, to get your Class A license (=BOP-speak for ‘Peggle Master’)
    3. Rubber-banding. Nothing kills that virtual-city vibe more than the realization that everything does revolve around me.

    Other than that, pure awesome.

  19. DoujinGamer says:

    Yay Burnout! I didn’t even realize it could be slipped in as a 2009 game. Mostly paid attention the console versions of it. I can hardly believe it took a whole year to port it over to PC. O_o

  20. simplicio says:

    RE: City inhabited by cars.

    Ever been to LA?

  21. Railick says:

    I had my greatest movement in gaming evar playing Arm A online with 70 people all one team versus AI playing a massive mission that took hours to complete. I played the mission as an Apache co-pilot in a flight of 2 Apaches with just the four of us (two pilots and two co-pilots) over team speak. It was really incredible seeing all those ground units who were all actual players moving about and doing their jobs, fighting and being killed ect while we offered support.

    I clearly remember zooming in with my camera and watching 5 special ops guys from a few miles away as they moved through a small town killing all the guards and freeing a VIP who they evaced with a black hawk it was like watching a movie and I even got to assist them when a tank showed up, was able to pop it with a hell fire from extreme distance.

    Of course this was tempered with a moment of confusion where I accidentally exploded the commander of the entire allied force while he was running around on the beach directing the landing of several black hawks who were dropping off soldiers ;P It was his own fault though he had an AK-47 looking gun what did he expect to happen when all the tags ect were turned off and all I could do was decided based on what he looked like? A dude running around on the beach with an AK-47 watching Black hawks landing, obviously opfor! BOOM Then over the commander channel “Hold your fire! Apache at grid location blah blah stop shooting me!” lol ;P

    I still plan on picking up ArmA 2 once I get a computer that can actually run the thing.

  22. Rock Tumbler says:

    My computer is so underpowered that I had to run Burnout Paradise at 800×600 with everything on low, getting about 10-15 FPS, and I still played it for hours. It’s the most fun racing game I’ve ever played.

  23. Clovis says:

    Hey, this is on sale on Steam for like $7. Wheee!!!