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Wednesday | October 24, 2018
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Burnout Paradise: Ultimate Box (PC)

Burnout Paradise: Ultimate Box (PC)


Take me down to the Paradise City where the grass is green and the girls are pretty – and with the Slash guitar riff the newest Electronic Arts game makes its entrance on the PC platform. The game is set in the fictional setting of Paradise City and it is up to you to win races, take shortcuts and reach the finish line faster than anyone else. Winning Challenges gets you new rides and better licenses to take on more difficult challenges. Has this console favourite made a good entrance to the PC market?

Paradise made its debut on the Playstation 3 and Xbox 360 in January last year and since then the game has been expanded with several downloadable add ons. The extra content comes included in the PC version; extras such as day and night cycles, additional online challenges as well as bike support are here for your enjoyment. There is also an option to restart events in the game which means you don’t have to drive all the way back to the starting line if you want to try again which was a massive downside in the original release.

Paradise City is vast but it isn’t really a vibrant environment bustling with life – you don’t see pedestrians walking around and interacting with each other for instance. That said there is plenty of traffic and action on the roads, which is where it is all important. You pull up at stoplights to trigger events of varying types, such as stunt challenges and races. There is also marked man where you have to reach a finish line while everyone else tries to pound you into the sidewalk. Timed runs also make an appearance, as does road rage, which involves you trying to destroy a specific number of vehicles within a given time limit. All the cars that are available fall into categories of stunt, speed and aggressiveness and they all have their own specific statistics and styles of handling which make unlocking and testing them all very worthwhile.

One of the series trademarks is the boosting system which is a meter that builds up as you drive recklessly – this works differently across the three times of car on offer. For instance, speed type cars only trigger boost once their meter is full, stunt cars only earn more by doing tricks and aggressive vehicles get bonuses for taking out the opposition. With each car type the boost provides fantastic acceleration that moves you at almost jet fighter speeds. Developer Criterion have created a coding tour de force of speed which really can make you feel sick if you have just eaten ! Keeping the cars under control at these speeds is a feat in itself. Whenever you do mess up and crash then you are treated to a wonderful slow motion depiction of your horrific accident. Its not wonderfully beneficial to your progress mind you, but it looks awesome.

The open ended nature of the game will appeal to some people yet perhaps alienate others. For instance, there is no really tight structured challenge system in place which would be the case if the events were more enclosed. With the open world you are free to roam and play as you wish which has certain appeal if you hate being tied into a linear gameplay mechanic.

Shortcut routes are well marked with blinking yellow gates and jumps are tagged with blue but where they emerge during a race is a challenge in itself. It is quite commonplace to be racing along then hitting a shortcut you think will take you down your route faster only to be on a different route entirely or heading backwards ! This time around there is a certain skill with taking the shortcuts and this can often only be gained by playing through the maps for a long time. Beginners are better sticking to the main routes until they get some game play time under their belts.

The navigation side of the game is made less of a problem after playing some tutorials which also detail the use of the minimap. The signals adjust to your current position in the environment and light the recommended route to the finish line although again there is a certain amount of skill required as the turns are so lightning fast that they are easy to miss particularly if you are mid boost. Once you learn the roads and the setting however a lot of it will end up second nature rather than relying on interface guidance to get to your destination.

Stunt runs and takedown challenges are more fun if you hate finding your way as they are freeform events in which you can explore the environment without paying a penalty. The only problem with these events is that by later in the game they are slightly repetitive as they don’t really change in the way they are delivered.

When you aren’t playing the traffic light challenges there are some other options open to play aside from just exploring the surroundings. On all the stretches of road a record time can be documented and at any time the games Showtime mode can be initiated. Long term fans of the franchise will be saddened to hear that this mode replaces the more focused crash modes of the past and I think it is a slight step backwards. Once Showtime is started your car rolls down the road and by smashing into traffic you bounce around to get more points via multipliers. The mode is a little dull after a while after the initial WOW factor wears off.

Some of my favourite sections are the free form car chases which start when you get notifications that a specific driver is in the city and his car is yours for the taking. You simply have to take them down to get their car. They are easy to pick out from the masses as their cars are much more attractive and visibly faster than the rest. I am not sure why you would want to destroy their cars to win them mind you, but as its a game we can let that slide !

So far I have focused on the offline aspects of the game but the multiplayer fans will be happy to hear there are a wealth of online modes available from customisable races to more specific team based or competitive challenges which only requires the creation of an EA account. Up to eight players can play these modes and there are statistic trackers to keep a record of the times you achieve. This is much more enjoyable than the offline side because you don’t get so bored when playing against real people and the challenges get hot and heavy. When your pride is at stake with a real person the adrenaline pumps more freely. All the modes such as marked man and stunt modes are available which makes for a diverse and fun experience against other players across the globe.

VOIP is supported but there is no way to text chat in game which is an unusual decision by the developers especially with keyboard support on the PC. Obviously text chat isn’t something you would ever use during a game, but it would be nice to sit in a lobby and chat with others especially when trying to coordinate an event between multiple people.

Additionally offline play supports Party Mode which lets up to eight people compete in brief challenges and it then rates the performance adding it to a total and determining a final winner from the figures when the rounds are over. The idea is for players to pass the controller around a group in a room and while it might be a limited idea there are some people who will enjoy the experience.

Thankfully the engine has been pretty well optimised and on my test systems, even a 8800 GT was able to power the game at high resolution. On some lower specified systems you may need to disable SSAO as it kills the framerate. Anyone with a high end dual core or quad core CPU and 2GB of ram on Vista should be able to pretty much max this game out with a modern day GFX. The best experience I had was with a quad core and 260 GTX and 2 GB of ram at 1920×1200 as it looks so much better than the console counterpart. Interestingly, part of the instruction text explains that Nvidia horizontal span across multiple monitors is supported as well as Matrox Triplehead2Go hardware. I was unable to test this, so your valued feedback on our forums would be appreciated.

Graphically the game isn’t going to break any new ground but it is pretty and effective enough to give a good impression of speed and motion which is the most important thing in a game like this. I have played many games which struggle to maintain smooth frame rates and there is no such issue with this title.

The audio is great, with detailed and clear engine sounds stealing the show, however the ambient popping and engine backfiring sounds are also well reproduced. The musical score is also impressive with tracks such as Soundgarden’s Rusty Cage making an appearance. You can turn this off if you are an engine purist however so no complaints on this front.

Overall Burnout Paradise on the PC is a great experience which I had a lot of enjoyment playing over the last week. There is variety and freedom afforded to the player which translates well into online play. There is certainly a learning curve at times, but if you stick with it then there will be much reward given. This is a highly recommended title for PC gamers and the best racing game so far in 2009.




Loads of cars and events. It moves fast and is smooth which helps the feeling of speed when playing.
Great 3d engine performance and the whole setting is well rendered. Polished in all areas.
Great Engine sound and wonderful effects throughout.
A lot to do online as well as offline which keeps the replayability factor high.

Highly recommended PC racer.

About Author

Stuart Davidson

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