Best of 7th Gen: #25-Burnout Paradise

by Matthew Thompson

(I am counting down my 25 favorite games of the last console generation. I explain a little about how I compiled the list in this introduction. And you can see a collection of all my articles on the Best of 7th Gen compiled here.)

Burnout Header Final

Back when this last generation of consoles began, I had never tried playing games online and to be honest I never thought I would. I just didn’t see the appeal of playing with people I didn’t know. But that all changed a few years later. It was actually through my blog and some forums that I met some other gamers that made me want to venture into the world of online multiplayer.

Burnout Paradise wasn’t the first game I played online. I believe that was the underrated Crash Commando or maybe LittleBigPlanet, but it was the first game I really got into in a big way. Freeburning with my online buddies became something I looked forward to whenever we could manage to cobble together a game night. There were cooperative challenges to conquer, stunt competitions to master, and races to be had. Nights always seemed to  end with one final giant lap around the city. So often so that anything else felt wrong. And we didn’t have to be involved in an event to be having fun. One memory that makes me chuckle a little looking back is how in between events things just devolved into everyone trying to take each other down and find themselves on the plus side of their various revenge tallies. Not even the sitting duck that was the leader of the freeburn was immune while he sifted through menus trying to set up our next competition. I don’t find myself playing online as much as I used to. It’s just hard to make the time and I still prefer to spend most of the gaming time I do have on singleplayer affairs. But when I think back on all the adventures and experiences I have had in the online space, many of my favorite memories are still from Burnout Paradise and I think that will remain true many years from now.

Burnout Paradise 2

But freeburning wouldn’t have been such a blast if the core game wasn’t so great itself. Paradise City packed a plethora of activities to engage in which made it so you were never bored while trying to attain your next license. The sense of speed was incredible and crashes had a sense of beauty they probably shouldn’t have. With everything moving so fast, it was easy to miss turns and find yourself on the wrong path. But as I became more familiar with the layout of the city, the freedom of the game’s open-world began to show its advantages adding an almost puzzle-like element to finding the best way to zoom through the game’s race modes. And exploring Paradise City was just as fun as besting its races. Searching for secret areas and finding gates to smash was always a good way to waste some time around town, but I personally loved finding the game’s many jumps and looking for big air.

Burnout Paradise also represented DLC done right. With this generation of consoles’ greater online integration came some bad side effects. Games were shipped unfinished just to be patched later. The rise of online stores and downloadable content paved the way for publishers to nickel and dime us. For the most part though, Criterion used this power for good. Free updates added all kinds of new content including motorbikes with their own challenges and modes along with a day/night cycle. They also packed some value into their DLC. My favorite, Big Surf Island, represented a huge playground designed for stunts with all kinds of creative design elements. And this came over a year after the initial release showing the kind of sustained support the studio gave to the title.

Burnout Paradise 1

I think I will always remember Burnout Paradise most for all the multiplayer fun it gave me and for getting me into online modes in a bigger way. But it was an excellent arcade racer online or off. Whether darting around the labyrinth of skyscrapers downtown or drifting through the winding curves up on the mountain sides, my time spent in Paradise City was always a blast and one I won’t soon forget.

A few more things:

  • Due to being a big part of my custom soundtrack for Burnout Paradise, listening to Paper Route’s Absence actually makes me think of this game.
  • I believe I was one trophy away from the platinum in this for years before I finally got it. It was that damn PlayStation Eye trophy. I think one of the first things I did when I got the Eye with my Move bundle was polish off that platinum.
  • Clue for #24: This game features a weapon that reminds me a lot of one of my all-time favorites in gaming.
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14 comments on “Best of 7th Gen: #25-Burnout Paradise

  1. I still think Burnout 3 was the better game but I’m kind of disappointed I missed the game nights with this one. I had fun playing Most Wanted for a while but it wasn’t quite as good as Burnout Paradise

    • I admittedly never played much of the other Burnouts or Criterion’s NFS games. So one of those might be better, but playing this online was really cool. Kind of figured you were in on some of the game nights back then!

  2. I missed out on that one, have it but didn’t play it that much. The sense of speed is cool, but I don’t really like the open world setup. I preferred Burnout Revenge for the series, would love for them to do another Burnout like that.

  3. Never played a Burnout game and not a huge fan of racing games (mainly kart racers for me). Back during the 1up days I always remember people talking about Burnout game nights. Good read, and your hint didn’t really help me out much for the next game.

    • I had a couple of hints for the next game. One made it super obvious and this one made it pretty tough I think. But I’d rather people not figure it out beforehand, so I went with this one! You have played the next game though, so that will be a plus for you.

  4. This was a game that I had some fun with for a weekend. I am more of an adventure, shooter guy, so when it came to investing time in car games, it never really happened. A few days, and I would be bored. But Burnout I remember in particular, for being very unique!

    • I’m kind of the same way. But because of the online with buddies, this one really hooked me in. The good news is most of my list is action/adventures, platformers and shooters, so those will be a little more up your alley!

  5. This was my first PS3 game – I got it with the console and the guy I got it from had no idea what the game was about and simply kept crashing into everyone and everything 😉 He didn’t sell the game much…

    However, when I played it myself, I fell in love with it, although I’m not a racing/driving game enthusiast. The open-world feel of the game, all the billboards and big jumps – that was amazing. I also agree that the DLCs made sense and ever since I got the Buggy that came with Big Surf Island, I never went back to any other car.

    Multiplayer was awesome and the challenges, different for different number of players, made it worth coming back to the game. I never really liked freeriding that much and the chaos that came with it – I’d rather have completed the same challenge a few times than go for the drift high score. I still remember when I couldn’t figure out how to do a barrel roll using the ramp at the quarry entrance and people kept trying to show my how to do it.

    Great memories, great game and no other driving game came close to the amount of fun Burnout Paradise brought me. I played NFS: Most Wanted but it was focused on racing and that’s never been the most fun part of such games to me unless there are friends sitting on the couch with me.

  6. Pingback: Best of 7th Gen: #24-Resistance: Fall of Man | The Triple Option

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