Why won’t they give us a sequel to Burnout Paradise? I’ll even come up with the name and ideal. How about Burnout Boston, perhaps starting up as Boston’s “More than a Feeling” blasts out and DJ Atomika welcomes us back to a new kind of paradise. Imagine how good that would feel, the catharsis and warmth that’d flow from every pore of your being as you realise you are back inside a Criterion Games driving world.
It’s incredible that over twelve years later, there’s still a small endorphin hit as Guns N Roses’ Paradise City rings out, the open G chord dripping with chorus effect transitions to the C, the F, the C, then resolving back to the G. Then Axl Rose comes in. Jesus Christ it’s a good song, isn’t it?
And that’s rather how I feel about this Switch version of Burnout Paradise. A few minutes later you’re screaming around the city, the tunes are blaring, and you’re boosting through billboards, smashing into shortcuts, and taking part in all manner of races in a world that just lets you explore. There’s no pathfinding here that shows you exactly where you need to go; instead an indicator-like flashing of a road name to say “hey, maybe this is a good route to take”, but also, whatever, you can go your own way (hey, actually Fleetwood Mac should soundtrack the sequel!).
The beauty of Paradise is that you are your own boss. Want to run a race that has everyone and their cat chasing you down trying to wreck you? That’s cool. But the point-to-point races really are golden, telling you where you start and where you finish and letting you fill in the blanks. The exhilaration that you get from spending 90% of a race in last only to come out of your back-alley shortcut and nick the first place is, incredibly, still unparalleled even in 2020. Forza Horizon 4 comes close, but really, Burnout Paradise hasn’t yet been bettered.
But you probably know that, I’d wager. What you want to know is how it runs on Switch. Well, beautifully is the short answer. The longer answer involves expletives to strengthen that point. In handheld, it’s 60fps (and 720p, and obviously looks better on other consoles) and I didn’t notice a single drop even at the ridiculously high speeds you achieve when tearing around Paradise City. Docked, well, it’s just as brilliantly responsive only now at 1080p. Burnout games were always arcade racers, eschewing the realistic ideals and letting others do that: here you’re a speed-demon, roaring as you drive naked, arse hanging out of the window, Limp Bizkit’s “Break Stuff” blaring on the radio, living it up, not giving a… well, you get the point.
All the DLC is included meaning you’ve Big Surf Island to get through after you’re done with the already huge Paradise City. Hilariously famous cars that can’t be named due to licensing laws that definitely aren’t the Delorian from Back to the Future, KITT from Knight Rider, Ecto-1 from Ghostbusters, or The Dukes of Hazzard Bootlegger. Definitely.
It looks great, as well. Not PS4 or Xbox One great, of course, but for a 12 year old game I’m incredibly happy with how it looks on Nintendo Switch. But what I’m truly left thinking about Burnout Paradise on Switch is how it harkens back to a time when games didn’t hold our hands quite as much. Don’t get me wrong, I’m happy with many of the modern blockbusters we get these days, but even other driving games feel so stale in comparison to Criterion’s magnum opus. Like minded people can share a spirit, and it’s true that games such as Forza Horizon 4 channel the ideas, but you can never replace the heart from something as unbridled as Burnout Paradise. Criterion wanted to roam, created a playground for you that’s never been bettered, and perhaps that’s why we won’t get a sequel?
As I said in the original remastered edition review, there’s no fast travel, and the design is slightly old fashioned. But as time goes on, I wonder if those are really even negatives. And maybe it’s the fact there’s no camera and the Switch made my driver’s license have a picture of a bleary eyed Tom Nook instead, but Jesus Christ this is still an incredible game, and one that feels perfectly at home on the Switch, even though the price is absolutely ridiculous. yes, it’s brilliant and it always was, but when it’s half price or less literally everywhere else, it’s just not right and, frankly, quiets the fanfare on a release otherwise worthy of celebration.
So much content
Still one of the best racers out there
PS4 and Xbox One version looks better, obviously