Originally released in 2008, Burnout Paradise combines realistic graphics with simple controls to present a no-limits racing experience. The game is set in an open world and allows you to freely roam around between races and exploration. The remastered version enhances the graphics and includes all of the DLC that previously launched for the original game.
I am reviewing the Switch version. The game is also available on XboxOne, PS4, and Origin.
About me and my play style: I have albinism. My visual acuity fluctuates between 20/100 and 20/500 depending on if I’m wearing contacts and how tired I am. I have color vision, but no depth perception. I also deal with eye strain if I have to focus too precisely for too long.
Visual Characteristics 7/10
(Contrast, Lighting, Tracking, Clutter)
There are a variety of options for customizing your vehicle, even before you’ve unlocked anything. You can pick from a number of bright colors, and this really helps. The game has very realistic graphics, and that means there is just as much clutter as there is in the real world. The lighting isn’t always perfect, though I was pleasantly surprised how visible everything was even in night conditions, and in low lighting, the game increases the contrast.
Overall, the effect is very pleasant and visible simply because of the intricate details that make the world so realistic. While this much detail might normally make a game too cluttered, when it’s emulating the real world, this much detail makes it more recognizable. It’s easier to sort through the visual clutter because it’s the same visual clutter seen in the real world.
The only thing that I would have liked to see added would be options to make all other cars the same bright color. If I knew other cars were all orange, for instance, I would be able to recognize them faster.
Accessibility Features 3/10
The game has one of the most confusing menus I’ve ever seen in my life. If you somehow manage to find the options menu, you’ll be able to independently control the music and special effects volumes. There’s also an option to turn on and off in-game tips. The tips are turned on by default, and I recommend keeping it that way unless they get in your way.
The tips are actually quite helpful. Particularly when you first play the game, make sure to have the sound on because the narrator gives you a good amount of tutorial information.
I’m sensitive to the fact that this is a remaster of a much older game. The game is good enough that I think it should have gotten a full remake, but that’s not what it is. That said, I’d like to see overall a better menu, text scaling options, options to control the narration to have it narrate everything, and button remapping. The controls are fairly simple, but they used all of the trigger buttons and hardly any of the face buttons.
That may suit some, but we could all benefit from the option to change it If they wanted to go the additional mile, it would be great to have optional removal of decorative assets and outlines around other cars and landmarks.
The map also needs some serious help. It appears in the lower right corner, and it’s incredibly small. There are markers on the map for various waypoints, but it’s not very helpful given how small it is. There is also a compass that appears at the top of the screen, and this is more helpful, but it isn’t precise. Given how windy many of the roads are, it can be easy to get lost. In single player, you can pause races with the minus button to see the map enlarged. The map still isn’t full screen, though.
Assist Modes 2/10
There aren’t really any assist modes, but I’m going to be nice and count the tips and the tutorial narration as something of an assist feature. I’ll also mention that while the open-world nature of the game can make things confusing, it also gives you unlimited practice and can be a game in itself if you aren’t very competitive. If you want a sandbox where you can crash cars because you’re salty no one will give you a driver’s license… this will do.
Non Visual Cues 8/10
The non visual cues include very realistic sounds from your car and the cars around you. When you’re driving into oncoming traffic, the cars try to avoid you, and you can hear them skidding. If you’re racing other players or the AI, you can hear cars coming close to you. Taken together, it’s enough for me to reliably avoid crashing with other cars. There is no sound to indicate that there are walls or other barriers, and that would be a nice addition. Even so, I found it fairly easy to rely on auditory cues to navigate around other vehicles and focus my visual abilities on looking for walls and other silent hazards.
Decent Fonts 4/10
Again, this is a remaster. They did not change anything, and that goes for the fonts. The fonts are designed to be seen on a TV, and even then, they aren’t generous. The menu font is a bold, all caps font. The standard font is a normal sans-serif font, and the player names are done in a typewriter font. It creates a very disjointed experience. The biggest thing is that the fonts are too small and there aren’t any options for how text is presented.
Necessity of Text 8/10
(The higher the rating, the less necessary the text is)
Aside from the menus, there is relatively little text in the game. You can use the zoom function on the menus, if that is any assistance. I am guessing it could only help you to be able to read the street signs, but I was able to win races without seeing them, so it certainly isn’t required. The tutorial information is conveyed through the narrator, so you can have a good time without reading. I’m taking points off for the menu, though. If you can’t see the full menu, you’ll have difficulty navigating to the various game modes.
Handheld Play 3/10
Don’t get this game if you’re planning on playing primarily in handheld mode. The great, realistic graphics aren’t near as realistic on a small screen, so the problems of clutter and lighting are significantly more cumbersome. The text is tiny in handheld mode, and the small map is even less usable.
Level of Precision Required 9/10
The gameplay itself is actually quite forgiving. If you’re too close to a wall, it’ll create sparks that give you a good indicator that you should probably move. You can select stronger cars that allow you to bump into more things without injury. Even if you do have a crash, it doesn’t take very long to get back into the action. The only thing I wish that was better is that movement in tight spaces is difficult. Backing up isn’t the easiest thing, and if you get stuck in a corner, it can be hard to get out.
Controls and Depth Perception 8/10
Burnout moves fast. This is a racing game that likes to keep things moving. As fast as it goes, though, it runs consistently at 60fps, making it very responsive. I thought the speed would be an issue for me, but it turned out to be very helpful in perceiving depth. Because you’re moving quickly, you can easily tell how much road you’re eating up and judge distance. The controls could be improved with button remapping and some assist features to get you out of tight spaces when you’re stuck, but the overall handling is excellent.
Burnout doesn’t have simultaneous local multiplayer. There is a party mode, but it’s done in hotseat-style. That may be very helpful to you because you don’t have to deal with splitscreens.
There isn’t any integrated voice chat, and online play isn’t very interactive. You may not see other players for an entire race if you’re behind or ahead of them. If you think you might need help from other players, you’ll want to keep this in mind.
There also isn’t much explanation or tutorial for the various game modes. If you’re wanting to play with others online, I’d check out some online walkthroughs or wikis to get a sense of how things work.
Recommendation for visual skills needed for enjoyment
If you’re looking to drive around and crash into stuff, I’d say you’d enjoy yourself with 20/1200 or so. The main pain point is being able to see the menus to start the game up. To participate in races, you’re going to want to be able to see the compass, and I’d guess you’ll need around 20/800 or so to see the compass.
Overall, I recommend Burnout. The sound effects and realistic graphics put it over the top. There are certainly a number of frustrations, and you might be better served by a different racing title, but I can’t deny that the game is a great time.
A copy of the game was provided for this review.
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