Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Burnout Paradise – 360 Review

Burnout Paradise – 360 Review:

This is the highly anticipated update to one of the most popular racing franchises in console history. Burnout has always been about painfully fast speeds and bone crushing crashes. Burnout Paradise stays true to this while re-inventing what was becoming a rather stale franchise.

This is the second outing for Burnout on a next get console, but unlike its predecessor Burnout: Revenge, Paradise is the first true next-gen title for the series. The most exciting and also controversial aspect is that Paradise City (the game world) is one giant and open sandbox area. Much like the streets of Liberty City or Test Drive: Unlimited. Essentially the aim is to “free burn” around the city exploring, racing, crashing and just simply having a good time all as a means to build up your drivers license rank and win cars.

The license is a replacement for the star system in previous versions of the game. Each event you win adds a point on your license. Once you meet the point’s requirement for each class you progress, being rewarded with a new car and a reset of all events. At set intervals as you progress throughout a class other burnout “drivers” will enter the city. These AI cars are new to the area and it is your job to find them and take them down, in doing so you are rewarded with their car becoming unlocked in the junk yard (essentially your garage).

Events are a key part to progression in Paradise. They are reasonably simple to find and enter. Once you discover an event it is recorded in your map so you can easily find it later. There are 5 types of events, these include Race (A standard race), Road Rage (Crash a target number of other racers off the road), Marked Man (Get to the finish line before you get taken down), Stunt (Perform stunts and combo them to earn points) and Burning Route (Get to the finish line with a specific car within the time limit). To start an event pull up to any one of the 120 traffic lights, pop a burnout and away you go. You must win an event to progress with your license, lose and you have to drive back to the traffic light you started at and try again. No restart feature here. It all sounds bad, but with so many events and so much to do you just drive away and do something else. The only time this was a slight concern for me was around the ranch area of the city where there is a lack of events, but in all honestly it wasn’t an issue at all.

There is so much to do in this game. The Crash mode of the old games is now known as Showtime. At anytime you can enter this mode and smash into everything earning points along the way, great for some mindless fun. Each street allows you to set a Showtime high score, allowing you to beat your own or online scores. Every street also has a hot route event going from one end to the other beat your best or the best online time. Finally there are Burnout signs, Gates and Super Jumps all to be found throughout Paradise.
All this can be done with your friends via the seamless online mode. Press the right button and you can jump straight into an online Paradise game with your friends. It doesn’t drop a beat either. Playing with 1 or 8 other people there are different online only challenges ranging from easy to the extremely hard. It is good fun watching 8 cars working together to complete a challenge. You can also race each other all over the city. Another quirky feature of online mode is the camera, if you have an Xbox Cam the game will take a snap of you each time you are taken out and send it to the player who did so and vise versa. Pretty neat.

There are a few flaws with the game. Burning Routes are specific to a car this means driving back and forth between Junk Yards to switch cars, this can be a little tedious and later in the game makes you resent Burning Routes. The compass can make navigating from point A to B annoying. In a race is totally up to you where to go. The compass provides some direction on the best streets to turn to reach your goal, however it is not always obvious and you can easily miss where you are supposed to turn. Late in the game things can get slightly repetitive, you essentially do the same events over and over until you reach your elite license. The difficulty increases with each class upgrade, this helps to keep you somewhat interested.

Overall Burnout: Paradise is a fun solid experience. The changes generally work well to provide a fun and very familiar Burnout experience. The environment may have changed but the series hasn’t lost touch, it’s just gotten better. This is what a next-gen sequel should be like.


Quick Update

Hi All,

It’s been a while since I have made an update. I have been kept busy with work and wedding plans (yes I am getting married at the end of the year).

Just a quick update to let you know to stay tuned for some updates. I have been bashing away in Devil May Cry 4 and Burnout Paradise on the XBOX360 so stay tuned for a write up on them soon. Also in the works is a quick roundup of all the Playstation Network games I have on my PS3, I find them more entertaining than most PS3 retail games...

There is a new official map and a swag of changed for TF2. To celebrate I will have a map guide coming out for CP_BADLANDS fairly soon. Please check out my mates at TF2Maps they have some great projects running and I will also be talking about this in my next TF2 update.

Wow that is a lot of stuff for me to do. Hopefully I can have most of this done by the end of next week. So stay tuned.

In the mean time please entertain yourselves on this pretty cool Fifa Street 3 clip. Thanks Jason for the tip!

Friday, January 25, 2008

TF2 Update News

Just read some exciting new on Team Fortress 2 over at PC Gamer.
Valve have announced that the map CP_WELL has received a revamp and has been turned into CTF_WELL. All the control points have been removed and the level modified to suit the CTF game type. This I assume makes it a single arena rather than the small areas in the CP version.
Not all is lost for the CP_WELL fans, valve will still be supporting this and it is still part of the rotation. Good news to my ears :) CTF_WELL will be out within the next few days.
Coming next month are two new levels. CP_BADLANDS and more interesting GOLDRUSH that contains a new game mode. In GOLDRUSH there will be a mine cart that needs to be pushed to either base. Once a team has control of the area around the cart it starts to move towards the enemy base. Sounds pretty cool!
Finally there is going to be an overhaul of TF2's game play. Basically there will be new achievements added for each class, once a certain percentage of these have been complete new weapons and skills will become available to each class. The Medic will be the first class to receive their changes with a new Overcharge skill that will double a targeted friendlies health but reduce the ability to unber shield. This skill becomes available once 18 of 35 medic achievements have been completed. It seems that Valve is making an effort to add pro's and con's to each upgrade as to make it important to make the right choice in each situation.
So that's some very exciting news indeed. Hopefully these new additions come soon!

Thursday, January 24, 2008

XBLA: Undertow Free!

Sorry for the slow news lately, I have been stuck in a week long training session at work (when most of my blogging is done ;p). Just a quick XBOX update for you guys/

Major Nelson has announced that XBOX Live Arcade is now offering Undertow as a free download. This is due to all the issues they had over the Christmas break and has been offered to all Gold (paying) and Silver(non-paying) members of XBOX Live! You have to hurry this offer runs out at 12am PT Sunday January 27, so get it this weekend!

Undertow is an underwater side scrolling shooter, it was released in November 2007. I haven't played this yet but it looks like a fairly reasonable game. The usual asking price is 800points. That equates to:
AUD: $13.20
USD: $10.00
GBP: £6.80
EURO: €9.30

UPDATE: Last night I snatched my copy of Undertow. This was very much a let down.
The idea behind the game is quite good. Two factions fighting for under water control points that then remove the enemies ticket count a'la Battlefield. The poor sound, sub-par graphics(considering publisher Chair used the Unreal Engine) and B-Grade cut scenes just make for one uneventful and low quality game.
No real surprises though I didn't expect Microsoft to give anything fantastic away, but is this all we are worth?

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Team Fortress 2

While having a fairly quiet and uneventful weekend I decided to jump into Team Fortress 2 . I have always been a fan of the original and played TF2 on and off for a month or so, not really getting into it. Late Saturday night / early Sunday morning changed all that.
Playing on a local ISP server (Game Arena) I stumbled into a room filled with a group of mature and very friendly gamers. The tactical style of play made this game so much more enjoyable. Every class had a purpose and was well supported by most team mates. I for instance was a spy, using my sap ability to destroy the enemy engineer gun turrets that were causing a nuisance to our spies and soldiers in the enemy intelligence room. It was just so much fun!
Fuelled by this TF2 fever I decided to read up on some of the TF2 developer material. The faction rivalry stems further than just team colours, the developers have created a rivalry through art. In the Red corner you have a very traditional and southern form of art work. The warm hues and wooden architecture really separates itself from the Blue faction. The Blue faction has an industrial feel with cool colours and very flat clean surfaces. I must commend Valve how they have pulled this off. The player models are identical on both teams, however both teams feel very different. I have hatred for the Red team, the brute hicks that they are! Why? I don't really know, its just the the Blue seems so much cooler to me.
The community is also starting to churn out some great looking maps. Just check out and the remake of Rock by Buddikaman. Its shaping up to be a top notch and high quality project. Its even got me pulling out my old World Editor skills and building something in Hammer. I have plenty ideas already!
Late Saturday night I didn't think I would have a new addiction, but come Tuesday afternoon I am sitting here at work counting the minutes until I can get home check and get into whooping some Red arse! Thanks Vavle for creating another relationship killer...

Friday, January 11, 2008

Going With The flOw

Last night I thought I would give the PS3 a bit of a go. I haven't really gotten into it much, not many games have sparked my interest just yet, my small collection of Warhawk, F1 Championship and Time Crisis 4 haven't quite kept me as busy as I hoped.

While surfing the PS Store I noticed flOw I thought I would put my hard earned $12.95 AUD into this. I am not quite sure what I am doing or why, but its fun... well kind of...

You are what I presume to be a fish, in a world with lots of other little fish that you can eat. The more you eat the larger and more menacing you being to look. The "ocean" if I can call it that is divided into a number of layers stacked either above or below you. You travel between these layers by eating either a red fish (dive) or a blue fish (making you rise).

The game is completely controlled by the 6-Axis motion of the PS3 controller. This at first can be tedious and frustrating, however before you know it you can move very fluidly throughout the game world. I didn't notice how well the controls were until a realised that I wasn't thinking about where I was going anymore. Another interesting feature to the controller system is that a friend can simply turn on a second controller and jump into the game as another fish. A very neat and seamless feature that in the end does not really change the game play.

The game does not use menus or provide any real functionality. Its a giant virtual ocean that you control until you turn it off. Its more like what the fashion channel is for cable TV, something good to look at with some funky music but with no substance. This is the biggest gripe I have with the game. There is nothing much to do other than tilt the controller until you have consumed all that there is in each layer. You keep doing this until you unlock a new shape, just to do it all again for another 5 shapes.

flOw is a nice cheap simple game for the person who wants to relax and wind down from a long day. Its not for the gamer who loves their action epics.