Ten years... Ten years have passed since we were last treated to a Burnout game, and some still believe Paradise was the best of the bunch. Burnout Paradise was a huge game, not only in style but in substance too. An arcade racer at heart, set in a huge open-world in which you were given free rein to drive, challenge, and cause mayhem in whichever way you wanted.
Burnout Paradise hasn't been rebuilt from the ground up like Call of Duty: Modern Warfare or Shadow of the Colossus, so it isn't the 4K wonder we were perhaps expecting but don't worry, everything is still tight and shiny. Textures have been upgraded, both on the vehicles themselves and the landscape. The lighting has also been improved. Drive over to Big Surf Island and wait until sunset - it looks beautiful. At night the colours really pop, neon signs adorning the sides of buildings shine brightly making the world look alive. The NPC cars, the generic vehicles that populate the entire world, may still be quite simple-looking and there's not a huge variety of styles, but honestly, when you're racing at top speed, dodging through lanes of traffic, smashing through billboards and getting airborne over mega jumps, you won't even notice them. It also runs at a smooth 60FPS, but then again, it always did.
There is a huge soundtrack to accompany you while putting the pedal to the metal. The titular Guns n Roses track "Paradise City" blasts out from the start, pumping you up for some high octane racing and it rarely lets up. Alice in Chains, Jane's Addiction and Soundgarden keep up the rock theme, but songs such as Avril Lavigne's "Girlfriend" and N.E.R.D's "Rockstar" switch up the track listing. Licensed music doesn't fill all of the 90 tracks though, music from the first three Burnouts is also there as well as a number of classical music tracks for the more refined racer. Who are we kidding, you're still going to do a Takedown event regardless of whether Debussy's "Clair De Lune" is playing!
Burnout Paradise Remastered isn't just the base game, all the DLC available is bundled into it. Every Car Pack, the Bike Pack, the massive add-on of Big Surf Island, Cops and Robbers mode and the hugely fun Party Pack are also included.
So let's start with the cars... In the original game you start at the junkyard with one car unlocked and as you progressed through your events you'd unlock more as you go. Each car you unlocked must be found, chased, and taken down for it to appear in one of the junkyards dotted around Paradise City. This is still the case with the remaster, but with all the DLC vehicles unlocked from the start. This means that cars like the Carson Inferno Police Truck are available at the very beginning, which lets you make small work of the competition in the early stages.
The Legendary Car Pack includes Burnout cars based on famous vehicles from TV and movies, such as the Ghostbusters Ecto 1, KITT from Knight Rider, the Dukes of Hazzard's General Lee, and of course the Delorean from Back to the Future (which also has a fun couple of little perks; when boosting the car leaves the flame trails like it does in the movie, and when driving if you push in the left stick the car transforms into hover mode).
To add to the hilarity, the Toy Cars Pack introduces tiny caricatures of the main cars with little electric noises instead of the roar of petrol engines. When a group of you all team up in these little micro machines a huge amount of fun can be had, especially attempting the Road Rage and Stunt Run events. For the more serious speed freaks amongst you, there are the Boost Specials. These beasts have a boost that when activated become locked on, making the cars high powered missiles that require a steady nerve to race down the streets.
The Bike Pack throws a couple of motorcycles into the mix. These crotch rockets are ultra fast and don't come with a boost, but these deadly machines really don't need one. Pulling wheelies and weaving through the narrowest of gaps on the interstate is one of the most exhilarating parts of the game; make a wrong move though and you'll wreck instantly. There is no forgiveness on these bikes.
Cops and Robbers Pack is more than just hard and fast pursuit cars. This pack introduces a new online mode in which two teams are pitted against each other to claim the stolen bullion and return it to their base just as you would in a capture the flag game. It's a fast and furious challenge that puts players in the same stock cars, just painted red for robbers and blue for cops, and yes, the coppers can put their sirens on too. Work well as a team and you'll soon find yourselves dominating the roads.
Big Surf Island is by far the largest DLC pack and adds a massive new area to Paradise city. Connected by a huge bridge, still under construction, Big Surf Island offers an extra set of billboards, barriers, and mega jumps to complete as well as 15 more events to take part in.
The island looks amazing, especially as the sun sets. Based loosely on the Miami beach shoreline, it's a mix of classic beachside hotels, tall skyscrapers and buildings still under construction, all of it adorned in bright neon that really makes the island stand out as the dark of night draws in.
There are plenty of events to take part in around Paradise City, 120 not including the DLC, each taking place on one of the many junctions found around the city. These take the form of Race, Road Rage, Marked Man, Stunt Run, and Burning Routes. As you complete the necessary amount of wins to fill up your Burnout Licence, each level you earn will reset the events, so if you have any particular favourites you can play them over and still get new wins. In addition to these events, each road has its own Road Rule and Showtime. Road Rule is basically a time trial; enter a junction at one end of the road and head towards the other end, beat the time shown and own that road. Showtime is a whole different event though; at any point on any road, hit both shoulder buttons together to trigger Showtime. The game will immediately flip your car and put you into crash mode, just like the old Crash Junctions from the early Burnout games. Hit as many vehicles as you can as you barrel-roll down the street, keeping your crash chain going, and activate your Ground Breaker to keep you bouncing in the direction of traffic.
One thing that made Paradise a great game to play was the ease that you can drive online. Simply press right on the D-Pad to open your online menu anywhere in the city, from here you can invite friends, join other racers in an Online Freeburn, or even host one yourself. Freeburn consists of mini-challenges to complete with your lobby, and they can be as simple as driving into oncoming traffic, drifting, or making jumps. There are also ranked and unranked lobbies in which you can set any of the game's events to play online. These can become quite competitive and are a lot of fun.
Got some friends coming over and want to bring that competitive streak out? Party Mode is quite possibly one of the most enjoyable couch co-op games out there. Up to eight players can take it in turns, over a series of events, to set time trials, land the furthest jump, hold the longest drift, or even just crash through barriers. There's nothing quite like goading your friends to push it to the limit and laughing in their faces when they wreck themselves, but when it comes to your own turn will you be able to hold your nerve and win?
So Burnout Paradise Remastered isn't the 4K marvel we perhaps hoped for, but it is still an immensely fun and chaotic racer packed full of cars, events and side activities to keep you playing for a long, long time. The standard rules apply; if you loved Burnout Paradise the first time around you'll enjoy returning to the streets of Paradise, they haven't changed much... but that's why it's paradise. And if you haven't yet... as D.J. Atomika puts it: "Welcome to Paradise City".