For me, however, it’s a non-issue. The great thing about Burnout Paradise is that, even when you’re not directly competing, you’re always exploring and having fun. For one thing, the handling is enjoyable in itself, with three classes of car – stunt, speed and aggression – that all have their own clear characteristics, and a range of models that then split the classes into dozens of subtly different handling models. For another, there are shortcuts to discover, barriers to knock down and bill boards to jump heroically through, and the game constantly keeps track of your progress.
You can score fast times along a particular street and win records – even have your achievements posted on the online leaderboard. Simply getting from A to B is never dull, because there’s always traffic to race through and new routes to try. Plus, every now and then the game unleashes a new vehicle on to the streets, and by finding it and taking it down, you can add it to your collection. There’s just too much to do in Paradise City to ever feel bored.
Admittedly, the new slow-motion Showtime mode – activated at any time by clicking both L1 and R1 or the bumpers simultaneously – is no replacement for the classic Crash Junctions of Burnouts 2, 3 and 4, but it’s still a lot of fun. Use aftertouch to hop your car around and you can still cause monstrous amounts of damage, earning multipliers for hitting buses and trying to build new high scores for your personal and online charts. Some of Crash Junction’s puzzle element has been lost along with the huge chains of destruction, but if this is Paradise’s one pitfall, then it’s one I’m perfectly willing to live with.
Needless to say, every aspect of the presentation is top notch. Visually, Paradise is right up there with Project Gotham 4, DiRT and Motorstorm as the best looking racer around right now. The detailed modelling, along with the various lighting and reflection systems create some astonishing results. Combine that in slow motion with the most rich and detailed damage modelling system I’ve seen to date, and you can’t help but be gobsmacked by the replays that follow every crash.