Burnout Paradise: The Ultimate Box - Cheat Happens Game Review
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Burnout Paradise: The Ultimate Box
PC, Playstation 3, XBox 360

Reviewed on: PC

Developer:
Criterion Games
Publisher: Electronic Arts
Rated: "E 10+" for Everyone


CHEATfactor Game Review
by Joe Sinicki

   
   
   
Audio/Visual: 6
Gameplay: 5
Lasting Appeal: 5
Overall: 6
   
CHEATfactor: 6
   
     
Okay I admit it -- I’m not the biggest racing game fan. Sure, it’s cool to customize cars, souping them up with the hottest in engines, parts and paint jobs, but at the end of the day it all just feels so redundant -- race here, brake there, boost around this corner. Shouldn’t there be more?

 That all changed in 2007 when EA released Burnout: Paradise, which took the stagnant racing genre and put it into overdrive. Though the original was quite the accomplishment, the newly released PC port; Burnout Paradise: The Ultimate Box’s polished graphics, gameplay tweaks and new additions easily make it the premier edition of the game.                

Never really embracing the "underground racing, pointy hair douche bags running from police" motif that seemingly all racing games have taken on, the Burnout series is all about arcade-style action and fun. Rather than reward players for winning races, Burnout puts emphasis on driving dangerously. You’ll get higher points if you sideswipe cars, or drive in the wrong lane, just as you will if you complete jumps or execute specific maneuvers. Burnout Paradise throws in quite the twist though, rather than doing all of this on pre-arranged tracks, all of the action takes place in Paradise City – a wide-open fictional city that’s completely open for you to explore. Now, Burnout Paradise isn’t the first title to do open-world racing (Test Drive for the Xbox 360 and a few of the Need for Speed titles have featured open-world gameplay), but what is unique is just how well everything is done.

"Cruising around Paradise City is so incredibly rewarding..."

Paradise City is extremely detailed and lifelike. In truth, you’ll have so much exploring Paradise City that you’ll find yourself forgetting that yes, there are missions to take part in and objectives to complete. The best part of Burnout: Paradise is that even through all of the radical challenges the game brings to the series, it always feels like Burnout, you’re just doing things at your own pace. Sure, Paradise loses some of the structure from previous titles – but who cares? Cruising around Paradise City is so incredibly rewarding in itself. One minute you’re exploring a mountain path, and the next you’re taking out cars or taking part in a trick competition.               

 
   

Most games separate their online portion from their standalone gameplay, a notion that Burnout: Paradise throws out the window. Blending the single player and online games together seamlessly, you’ll get notifications of players in your area, take them out, and get their ride. You can also challenge them to events, or accept their challenges. This all adds another depth to the gameplay unseen in most games using a lobby based system.

For new players, this could all be a bit overwhelming, but the engine behind Paradise is so incredibly intuitive that it won’t be long before even the most novice gamer feels right at home. Until then, you’re going to be experiencing quite a bit of trial and error gameplay. Luckily, Criterion listened to critics and fans alike who lamented when the original game didn’t feature an option to automatically restart a failed event. No longer will you have to race back from your last checkpoint to the event’s location merely to retry. It’s a small improvement, but at the same time, it’s monumental. Exploring the city feels more fun when you aren’t cursing the game for having to drive to the same location over and over.

Though it’s almost two-years old, Burnout Paradise: The Ultimate Box is quite impressive visually. A step up from the visuals of the original console release, the Ultimate Box features very few framerate problems, and keeps up with the constantly moving Paradise City quite well. Go fast enough and the screen will start to blur, creating one of the most memorable feelings of speed I’ve ever played. Luckily, the PC version follows suit with the Xbox 360 version, allowing gamers to use custom soundtracks so you don’t have to constantly listen to the same Avril Lavinge songs or even worse yet, the god awful radio station DJ’s.

"The bikes feel fundamentally different than cars, but are incredibly fun to drive..."

 
   

It’s obvious the folks at Criterion actually listened to what fans said when the original console game was released, as many of the faults have been corrected in this re-released version. In addition to the new ability to retry challenges automatically, the Ultimate Box includes all of the bonus content released as downloadable content on the Xbox 360 and PS3, as well as brand new content including motorcycles and a new engine that changes gameplay from day to night. The bikes feel fundamentally different than cars, but are incredibly fun to drive, and don’t really offer much difference gameplay wise.

After all the changes, sadly Criterion didn’t change the game’s biggest fault – no crash mode! For those new to the series, earlier entries featured the aforementioned mode where you simply launched your car of choice into oncoming traffic, receiving a higher score for the creating more damage. Admittedly, incorporating crash mode into the open-world setting could feel awkward, as it’s much more scripted than the rest of the game, but that’s a small price to pay for the morbidly rewarding feeling you got by causing a flaming semi to take out an entire line of traffic.  Sure, there’s the similar “Showtime mode” but it just isn’t the same feeling.

With its many tweaks and additions, Burnout Paradise:The Ultimate Box earns it’s name; stepping out of the re-release realm and becoming the premier addition of what was already a truly exceptional title. Though it won’t do much to convince detractors of the open-world gameplay, Burnout Paradise: The Ultimate Box finally gives PC players a crack at one of the greatest, and most underappreciated titles that console players have been playing for years. 

 

CHEATfactor

CHEATS USED: Unlimited Boost, Super Turns, Save/Load Position

Similar to the Grand Theft Auto series, a major part of Burnout: Paradise is exploring Paradise City. Using cheats like the unlimited boost, and super turns only makes it that much better. You’ll have an easier time getting to those hidden areas that are just so fun to unlock.

While they are helpful in exploration, the save/teleport cheats don’t do much to enhance gameplay as Criterion fixed one of the original release’s major problems – the inability to restart a mission automatically.

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