Without a doubt, “Burnout Paradise” is one of the most frustrating games you will ever play. This is not just because of its difficulty, though a simple race will surely have you watching your car get torn apart for at least 20 minutes of slow-motion crash footage. It is so frustrating mainly because of a series of poor gameplay decisions by the developers.

Brian Merlos
Brian Merlos
“Burnout: Paradise” aka “When Paris Hilton Gets Behind the Wheel.” (PHOTO COURTESY OF EA)

First time’s the charm: If you start a race, drive 30 miles to the finish line and lose, there is no “restart race” option. Yes, that’s correct; you cannot restart the race. This means that you have to drive 30 miles back to where you came from and start over, doing this as many times as needed until you win. It’s a flaw that single-handedly brings down the game as players will find themselves wandering aimlessly through the middle of nowhere and wondering where the hell they started from in the first place.

If cars were made of tin foil: Burnout is a terrifying game to play, mainly because you find yourself in horrific crashes every three seconds or so. This is largely due to game physics which has somehow interpreted that 95% of the cars in the game are made out of glass. You can hit anything and die. Graze another car, nick a guard rail or splatter a butterfly on your windshield, and you’ll be treated to a five second animation of your car spiraling through the air. And there’s no way to skip this, you literally have to sit through the crash sequence every single time, and you’ll be doing it a lot. The only cars worth driving in the game are the van and the truck, because they can actually withstand the onslaught of traffic for more than two seconds.

“Lost” is not just a show. : It’s also how you’ll spend most of the races in “Paradise.” In some bizarre “realism,” the game never actually tells you how you’re supposed to get to the finish line during races. You literally have to pause the game mid-race, check the map, plan out your route and then resume, but by that time you’ll usually be so disoriented you’ll face plant into a wall. The only hints they give you are a confusing display of flashing road signs and the blinker on your car. Yes, with all the crazy shit happening on the screen you have to look at the blinker on your car. More often than not, miss your turn, drive off a cliff or plow into a bus while trying to do it.

Ghost Rider: Perhaps the most bizarre element the game is that no one is driving your car. When you scrape along a guard rail and tear the doors off your car, you can clearly see that your driver’s seat is empty. This may have something to do with the “E” for everyone rating, as every single crash in this game would tear the driver limb from limb. Still, it’s just strange to see, and seems to be a detail that was just forgotten in production.

Battle Royale: All the horrendous flaws in the game aside, “Burnout” is still fun to play in one mode: Takedown. Nothing is more gratifying than slamming other cars against the wall or plowing them into oncoming traffic. The slow-motion crash sequence here is readily accepted because, well, it’s not happening to you, for once. This event makes “Burnout” stand out from other racing games and is more fun than the entire rest of the game combined.

Nice Lamborghini Diablo, I mean Jensen P12: “Burnout” will never be able to get licensed cars because of the digital destruction it puts them through. So the game has to resort to making up their own vehicles that look suspiciously like their real-life counterparts. There’s nothing inherently wrong with this, but the game promises 75 cars and there’s really only about 33, as each vehicle has an unlockable alter ego which is the exact same car, but with more stickers. And you can’t customize anything about any of the cars, setting the game leagues behind “Need for Speed” and “Midnight Club.” In fact, “Burnout” will make you want to play one of those two games, where you don’t wreck every two seconds, can modify your licensed cars and restart a goddamn race when you fail. A multitude of small, obvious flaws destroy this game. Hopefully a sequel can reveal some of the fun that is somewhere deep inside this series.

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