A few weeks ago Burnout Paradise released on current generation consoles – Xbox One and PlayStation 4. It claimed to be a remaster (though we know at this point that this particular marketing term is heavily misused), and the publisher even went so far as to claim that some textures had been “redrawn” in “HD”. Well, I downloaded the game and played several hours of it, and I am quite disappointed in myself for buying the download copy and not a disc, which could have been returned for a refund.
The game looks just as it did a decade ago on PC – i.e. pretty nice back then, but way behind the curve by today’s standards. I saw no evidence of redrawn, higher resolution textures, and ultimately was left feeling like I’d wasted a chunk of cash, when I could have bought the Xbox 360 version on disc for a quarter of the price, which runs via backwards compatibility on the Xbox One. Or… I could have just downloaded the PC version that is on my Steam account.
So, this week they brought Burnout Paradise’s predecessor, Burnout Revenge, to Xbox One’s slowly growing backwards compatible list. This was the first Burnout game I owned, having been given it as a leaving present from an office I worked at in London in 2005. I had the Xbox version back then, as the 360 wasn’t out yet… obvs. I have very fond memories of the game, probably about the last Xbox game I ever had before I upgraded to the next generation system a few months later. And, contrary to popular opinion, I believe it to be the best of the series, having felt each previous game and Paradise were steps backward from this point.
It is the Xbox 360 version that is now backwards compatible, and the main difference between this and the “new” version of Burnout Paradise is that it makes no pretence about what it is – a last generation game (early last generation too) that is what it is. And frankly, besides a lower polygon count on the cars and perhaps a slightly blander feel to the buildings you race past, it looks as good on my Xbox One and the Paradise remaster. It’s not a pretty game by today’s standards (just load up the latest iterations of Forza or Gran Turismo to see how far things have come in 12 years), and indeed it was far from the prettiest racing game on the Xbox 360, being essentially a slightly upgraded Xbox release. EA make a big fuss about this fact, from the big “EA HD” logo that pops up as the game loads, to the intro video that proclaims that this is Burnout on a NEW GENERATION OF CONSOLES and in FULL HD!”
We all know that graphics do not make the game, so what about the all-important gameplay? Well, I’m pleased to say it’s largely in keeping with my memories. Races, Road Rage events, Crash junctions. All so much fun. If I’m honest the racing gets boring pretty quickly, being basically an exercise in holding down the boost button, occasionally trying to wipe your opponents out, and trying to stay on the wrong side of the road whilst squinting to see oncoming vehicles lest you crash, so that your boost meter continues to fill. The controls are simple – accelerate, brake, boost, and steer. You need to boost as much as possible to win the race (even more so in a Burning Lap event, in which you speed towards the end of a course). Crashing usually sets you back one position in a race, and basically rules out a gd medal on a Burning Lap, however there is one way to save both your race position and the contents of your boost meter – holding A after a crash activates after touch, allowing you to move your vehicle into the path of opposition. Successfully take them down and you’ll essentially get a pass on that crash!
A typical racing game progression takes you through the variety of event types, awarding you up to five stars per event depending on how well you perform. Collect a certain number of stars to open up a new selection of courses. Fairly basic stuff, and for me a preferred system to Burnout Paradise’s open world.
All in all I’m happy to revisit this old favourite of mine. It is what it is, doesn’t pretend to be anything else, simply provides some high speed thrills. Worth the £9.99 asking price on the MS store for sure.