Burnout Paradise is based in the fictional "Paradise City" and unlike its predecessors you are free to explore the city from the beginning of the game. Due to the city being open from the very beginning, you are given more choice in what challenges you wish to partake in, and you can do them whenever you wish. This is a good feature as it allows more casual gamers to take their time and explore the city a little before taking on all of the challenges, however at the same time it also satisfies the more serious gamer. The city design itself is fantastic, and offers plenty of areas to visit and plenty of challenges to enter. It also supplies areas for all of the stunts and jumps that everyone knows and loves from the old Burnout games. There is also plenty of traffic for you to dodge around and smash into, meaning if you don't want to play the game totally seriously, you do not have to, you can just have fun!
Due to the city being so big, when you are completing certain challenges, for example races, you can choose your own route to take. Whilst this is useful, it can prove tiresome, especially if you do not know the map that well, and I found the navigator to often be inaccurate and difficult to follow. This can get fustrating, as you really need to have played the game for a few days before you can think about winning any of the races. Whilst the ability to go where you like is a good idea, I would have liked to have seen the tradtional arrows at the top of the screen for you to follow.
A new feature called "Showtime" replaces the crash mode we saw in previous Burnout titles. Showtime can be started at any time by hitting the two shoulder buttons on your controller. Your car will immediately begin flipping and you'll start racking up a score for the street that you started the Showtime on. The Showtime mode is fun, as you can just keep playing it and playing it if you are good enough. If you have enough of a boost you can keep your car bouncing around, and thus the mode does not end until you stop bouncing.
The Road Rage events are very similar to the Burnout of past, which is great because this was one of our favourite modes in the previous games. It is still so much fun scoring all of those takedowns, and its even more manic than in the past games, as more and more cars get involved.
Another new mode that has been added to Burnout Paradise is called "Stunt Mode". Essentially this mode is as it sounds, where you earn points for drifting, and completing jumps etc. Your aim is to get a certain number of points within the time limit, in order to complete the challenge. You can also earn double points in this road for completing certain moves in this mode, for example if you manage to hit an barrel role.
The choice of vehicles in Burnout Paradise is good, however I would have liked to have seen a few more included. There is a maximum of 70 included in the base game, however I am assuming they may release more as an additional download pack. The cars are all divided into categories, making some cars better than others at certain categories. This is part of the fun, trying to work out which cars are best for which challenges.
The games online features this year are impressive, it is easy to get into online play and I experienced no lag as I played. Online you can create custom races with friends, or participate in different challenges. There are up to 50 different challenges depending on the numbers of players playing, ie. there are 50 challenges for when you play 2 player, and 50 seperate ones for if your playing 3 player etc. This really adds to the playability of the game.