The need for speed of the new generation can be identified to a great extent with the Need for Speed phenomenon, which began on the PC in 1995 with the release of the first NFS. From that day forward, driving around in cyberspace without a license and without limits has taken hold of everyone who enjoyed cars, even a little. Dozens of games bet on speed and not few of them on reckless driving. The NFS games have usually set the trend, but on the Xbox Burnout is a synonym for disaster on the highways, actually being much more entertaining that the more organized races and without damage that could be found in Need for Speed.
Paradise, the most recent chapter of the Burnout series ended up on store shelves last winter, but only for next-gen consoles. As we were accustomed with, the tendency was to believe that it wouldn’t be released on the PC, but, for the joy of those without consoles, the producers have decided they should give it a try, even if only a year later.
So the question is: do we have the same lame port or has the game been adapted to PC demands? The answer is yes, it has adapted, for the most part. And since they ported it, Criterion Studios have also included the extra content released for consoles: the Bikes Pack, with motorbikes and a day-night circle that is most welcome, the Party Pack with new options for non- Internet based multiplayer, but also the 1.6 Update that comes with general changes, like the possibility to restart the races.
We’re not in Kansas anymore
Paradise City is a typical American metropolis, divided into several zones, from the busy and crowded centre to houses and mountain resorts. Even if the speed with which we roam can make the city seem pretty small, the areas are sufficiently varied, so boredom never comes into play. The most important feature of the city is the large number of shortcuts, rear streets and off roads, filled with ramps and gaps that beg to be crossed. And of course, there’s a very good chance of wrecking the car on these roads.
How can a ramp be an undisputed source of entertainment? Well, it’s mostly because Burnout is the equivalent of the expression “you are totaled”. Every inch of street is an invitation to disastrous accidents and the design of the city is very inspired. A jump at the highest speed from the top of a mountain, with a view to the metropolis, can be very satisfying. And what comes afterwards, usually a very violent landing, is the icing on the cake.
A unique element is the fact that each intersection is a potential start of a race, after we clear them by advancing in the game and obtaining higher-level licenses. In the beginning, the player only has an F class license, the lowest of the bunch, but with every win new races and classes are unlocked. Further in the game all the intersections will be, if I can say so, hostesses for races and you can be sure that no matter where you may stop, there will be a race available.
In Paradise City speed is just a pretext for wrecking the cars. No matter how much care you may take when driving, in the end the fence is your only destination. Especially in the multiplayer, where a human player far exceeds the AI when aggressiveness is concerned. A 200 km/h crash is not a problem though, because every accident has its uniqueness and charm. There are hundreds of ways of crashing a car into a fence or into the other drivers, and the roll-overs never lose their attractiveness, even when you see them for the n-th time.
The cars screech, metal melts, windows crash into a thousand pieces, the camera closely follows the nearly destroyed vehicle and time is slowed down, all these for seeing a roll-over or crash in a wall. Art, in its purest form. By comparison, in the Flatout games the lack of any slow motion camera hinders the cinematic aspect. Here, on the other hand, it’s most welcomed.
On the road to destruction, every car has various damage stages which are determined by the resistance of the class it belongs to. But even if a car loses its tires, it can still be driven until it’s totaled, at which point it magically repairs itself. It sounds simple (and it really is, the game isn’t stressful on this account), but in some races the total destruction of the car is not permitted.