Once the soul of racing games, fancy fast cars have taken a beating on the race track in recent years, replaced by (shudder) realistic driving sims. While there is no intention to disrespect massive rubber-burning franchises such as Gran Turismo, Project Cars and Forza Motorsport, there will always be the gaming camps who just want to chill out on the couch, and drive as recklessly as possible and leave a trail of wanton destruction, all for maximum pointage.
Alas, racing fans will have to take a trip back to the past if they want something grand on the tracks, back when the name Criterion Games meant something more than just an empty shell recently announced to take on the reins of EA’s popular Need for Speed franchise.
Originally remastered back in 2018 for the PlayStation 4, Xbox One and PC, Criterion Games’ epic classic Burnout Paradise Remastered is now available for the Nintendo Switch, and it’s about time.
For hardened Burnout fans, or even those that played Asphalt, the knockoff mobile racing series in recent years, this will be a familiar sight to behold. The premise is really simple: drive around the titular Paradise City and get into races, where you drive as recklessly as possible to win. Players do so by driving on the wrong lane, near-missing oncoming cars, and destroying enemy cars in Takedowns. This will accumulate the Burnout bar, which can be activated to achieve ridiculously high speeds and wreak even more havoc on the road. Winning races will upgrade your license, which will then unlock rarer and better cars.
It’s a really simple gameplay loop, but a tried and tested one that will leave players with hours upon hours of satisfying road wrecking goodness. And it’s even more satisfying knowing that it can now be played in handheld mode or docked mode on a whim.
Other familiar aspects to Burnout Paradise Remastered remain that will no doubt put a smile on players’ faces, most notably, the music. Rock anthems from the 1980s to the early 2000s dominate the soundtrack, including the titular “Paradise City” by Guns N’ Roses, which will will no doubt inject some adrenaline when booting up the game. The likes of “Girlfriend” by Avril Lavigne, “My Curse” by Killswitch Engage, and “Would?” by Alice in Chains are also some of the stellar music that players will find themselves humming to while they wreck enemy cars to satisfying delight.
And of course, since this is a remastered version of the Ultimate Box, players will get all DLC as part of it. This includes all the legendary cars, which include riffs of the Ecto-1 from Ghostbusters, KITT from Knight Rider, and the Delorean from Back to the Future, as well as toy versions of the regular cars, and more. As cool as receiving all this DLC content from the onset is, it does reduce the challenge of playing through the main game drastically as players can already start by picking these DLC cars, which are generally better across the board. That said, however, it’s not that big of a deal considering the casual nature of this game, but if you want to experience the progression in full, then you’d have to do your utmost to not give in to temptation and breeze through the initial content with the DLC cars.
There are notable quality of life changes to Burnout Paradise Remastered that make it play like a proper current-gen title. The game now runs at a constant 60fps, both on docked and handheld modes, which feels like an absolute breeze when playing. It is a shame, though, that the graphics aren’t as crisp compared to the other platforms, due to the Switch’s native 1080p/720p resolution on docked and handheld modes respectively. That said, there are still notable vistas that can be enjoyed, especially in the daytime, but don’t expect anything out of the ordinary as it is still ultimately a 2008 game.
Speaking of which, the lighting in this game can range from not bad to downright frustrating, as nighttime races are constant battles to see where you’re driving. Somehow, the visibility in the nighttime is so limited to the point that players have to rely on their car’s (and others’) taillights and tire burn just to be able to see what’s in front of them. Even the lights emitted by stunt ramps or detours are misleading, and more often than not can end up in a crashed car as, ultimately, the road isn’t as visible in the dark. Thankfully, however, the day/night cycle can actually be toggled off, for the sake of your eyes.
Another missed opportunities to improve quality of life include the UI. As highly-stylised as it is, it’s rather unwieldy to navigate, especially on handheld mode on the Switch, where players are restricted to the confines of the tiny 720p screen. The text is a little hard to read at times, especially with the font choices of the original game, and can also potentially cause players to miss important turns and lose races as a result. The font could’ve been enlarged or even overhauled completely to make it more functional rather than stylistic, but it seems as though it was an oversight on Criterion’s part.
However, what could be the most off-putting aspect to the Switch port of Burnout Legends Remastered is the price. At US$49.99 on the US Eshop, it’s honestly quite hard to recommend, considering the PC/PS4/Xbox One ports all cost at least half the price. For those who already own those versions, it might be even more of a slap to the face to get the one here for about double the price, when the overall video quality isn’t even as good.
And for about US$10 more, players can already get the likes of The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, Fire Emblem: Three Houses or even The Witcher 3 (an actually good value-for-money port). As such, it might be better to wait for a sale for this one, despite being a generally great game.
To conclude, the Switch port of Burnout Paradise Legends is an overall decent port to a great classic, and the cultural era of nearly two decades ago. There is still a ton of personality and fun to be had in this game, even if its technical aspects didn’t really age well. But it’s really hard to recommend it at full price, given the higher-quality of other similarly-priced games and ports.
GEEK REVIEW SCORE
Criterion Games’ classic looks, sounds, and plays the same as it did 12 years ago. Despite the missed opportunities to improve quality of life, and its rather jaw-dropping price, Burnout Paradise: Remastered is a must-have for any Switch system… when there’s a sale happening.
Gameplay - 9.5/10
Presentation - 8/10
Value - 6/10
Geek Satisfaction - 8.5/10
User Review( votes)
Marion has a serious RPG addiction. Sometimes it bleeds into real life; he forgets to sleep because he thinks he has a Witcher’s body clock. Forgive him in advance if he suddenly blurts out terms such as “Mind Flayer” and “Magic Missile”, because never once does he stop thinking about his next Dungeons & Dragons game.