One of the games that I have regrettably neglected playing on my own since its release has been Burnout Paradise. One of the first titles I purchased for the console, and by far my favourite racing series, I was looking forward to the annarchy that I had experienced in days past in beautiful high definition. Since getting my 360, however, reviews and entertaining guests has been the bulk of my play time on the system, and Burnout has always gotten a backseat to other titles, except for the few times I’ve had the opportunity to play it with friends and usually check out the new updates. Criterion’s support of the title earned it one of our inaugural JAY Awards for best developer, and it didn’t seem they were satisfied with such high praise and are continuing the good news well into the second year of its release with a totally new boxed package, lower price and free/premium updates for the game coming within a few weeks.
Yes, the Burnout Paradise: The Ultimate Box has been dated for the PC, Xbox 360 and PS3 and includes all of the major updates that Criterion have issued so far and include brand new content that previous owners will have to pay for. It will arrive on February 6th and include the Party Pack update, which is scheduled to go live as premium (that’s paid-for) content on February 5th. The Party Pack is set to deliver a mode to players that has been lost since the second entry in the series, wherein the players are able to go through a set of random mini-games with up to 7 friends (one uses the controller at a time) to perform tasks like doing barrel rolls (yes) and racing against traffic. It’s set to add a whole multiplayer experience for people gathered around a TV, something that the current game lacks, and is a great addition to an already great game.
Another big announcement is that they will be issuing another free update that will have major tweaks to the game mechanics. Improved graphics, new vehicle mechanics, in-game browser and store and a sorely needed restart function that allows you to restart a challenge without having to run the whole thing out. It’s a big improvement, and the restart function is one that has been clamoured for by the community for quite a long time and is a welcome addition. They’ve also promised more details and information about the changes coming through their video podcast, so expect more in the coming days.
With all this in mind, I consider it a public service announcement when I say: buy this game. On store shelves, the current version of the game is available for around 20 dollars (USD/CDN), which is bargain bin prices. What it offers is a creative and unique style of racing game that is in no way a budget title, bringing consistent updates that are most often free and expansive in a way that drastically changes the game. New worlds, new modes and motorcycles for the first time ever, unless you are completely opposed to racing games, there isn’t much of a reason not to pick up this one if you are able to play it at all. The fact that it is coming to the PC, and being relaunched on the rest of the systems to include all of these updates and the new Party Pack just gives a lot more incentive for players who have yet to take the plunge. Even if you are vehemently against the retail market, the full game is available for download via the PlayStation Store for PS3 owners, and offers the full experience available on disc.
Criterion deserve all the credit in the world for the work they’ve done with their game in the last 12 months. Although the industry lends itself to success when it comes to releasing games on an annual basis, they are trying a totally different approach to extend the game’s life, and get the most out of the players that have already picked up the game, and the copies that are on store shelves now. With the historically lower sales for the series when compared to Need for Speed and other racing franchises, this seems like a less risky venture and a great way to keep people pleased and ready for the next iteration when they finally decide to move onto the next product. And if you combine all this with the fact that they will be introducing classic cars into the game in the near future, including the flying Delorian from Back To The Future, you have to be pleased that at least someone is taking this digital distribution concept and really doing the exact right thing with it.