Bogged down in the modern age
I understand the applause thatÂ Burnout ParadiseÂ received when it came out in 2008. Open world was still a new and flashy premise that had worked in the shooter and the RPG genres, but nobody had yet conquered a truly off-the-rails racing playground at that point. Criterion boldly stated it had been their dream to create that experience: a rip-rolling racing game with that same penchant for high octane, paint-trading thatÂ Burnout had gathered by that point set in a world with no loading screens and a new challenge waiting at every spotlight.
I remember completionists going mad looking for billboards to jump through and insane stunts to pull off. Racers made friends online and somehow found them in the urban jungle of Paradise City. Rival cars would swoop in and steal your ride if you werenâ€™t careful. In 2008, it was a dream come true.
However, both looking back and considering my feelings towards video games now, itâ€™s all the more obvious whyÂ Burnout Paradise never clicked with me. I simply canâ€™t stand that approach to open world design. I struggle with it inÂ Breath of the Wild, chugging my way between destinations on opposite sides of Hyrule. I loathe having to trek between missions inÂ Grand Theft AutoÂ or whatever the latest Ubisoft tower-climber is. Buzzwords like â€œdiscoveryâ€ and â€œexplorationâ€ donâ€™t mean much to me anymore.
Like most of its open world brethren,Â Burnout Paradise ultimately fell short for me because sifting through itsÂ excess to find what I really wanted from the experience became all the more frustrating.
Open world made simple racing frustrating. I hated losing a race and having to drive halfway across the map to try it again. I hated missing a billboard by inches and having to backtrack and drag myself into the proper position once more. The feel, the control, and the balance are all in place forÂ Burnout Paradise being anÂ excellent racer, but I played it just wishing I could race without tacked on objectives tearing me in thirty different directions. I constantly found myself thinking that I had bought a racing game, but all I was accomplishing was generic tasks other sandboxes offered.
The only difference was that I was in a car.
This is whereÂ Burnout 3 Takedown succeeds in what it doesnâ€™t set out to do. It doesnâ€™t lure you astray with side goals. It doesnâ€™t dangle distracting keys with promises of unlockable cars, decals, completionist fodder, achievements or trophies. It doesnâ€™t try to be Skyrim orÂ Red Dead Redemption or whatever open world hybrid genre is the latest to crawl from the woodworks.
Itâ€™s just a racing game. You win races, you move onto the next race. Maybe you unlock a car. Cut and dryâ€¦ so perfect.
And it just happens to be one of the finest racing games ever made. You want to do a certain race and improve your time? Itâ€™s no more than a menu screen away. You wonâ€™t have to drive halfway across a map and navigate complicated, crowded city streets to find your favorite tracks, nor will you be forced to find a garage or a pit stop every time you want a new car. As said before, itâ€™s all right there for you in a sleek menu system designed to get you to what matters most as quickly as possible.
Games likeÂ Burnout Paradise came out at a time when HD was booming and excess content was in style. Gamers demanded huge maps to satisfy their growing ambitions their gaming experience, and it was a racer that rose to theÂ occasion. However, it was also a product of its time, a game with solid gameplay surrounded by loads of fat that weighed and slowed down its core. As gaming begins a shift to downsize once again, cutting down on this fat thanks to eSports, indie games, and pick-up-and-play multiplayer titles, it is games that have very little of the excess that will survive the test of time.
And that isÂ Burnout 3 Takedown, a game that gets you to what you really want as quickly as possible.