How Burnout Paradise was Mishandled
Ah, Burnout Paradise. The game that has the community foaming at its mouth for it's completely different take on the Burnout series, with an open world environment. However, that's not why I'm here. I'm here to talk about how Burnout Paradise was mishandled.
From updates that negatively altered the experience to complete incompetence by EA and Criterion, Burnout Paradise is a botched experience on each and every platform.
So with that said, let's-a-gyaaaah!
Alpha & Beta
It's easy to say that an alpha/beta version of a game is inherently better just because there's some differences or changes, though some aspects of the alpha and beta stages of Paradise were better than the 1.0 release we got.
The first being the removal of big traffic vehicles, including tow trucks, RVs, and semis. Would've been nice to have more variety in the traffic, as highways are usually pretty empty with buses and utility trucks being the only big vehicles that spawn.
The second being the removal of Impact Time and Aftertouch. It seems strange to remove one of the defining features of the Burnout series, but nonetheless, it ended up on the cutting room floor.
And third, some songs were cut, such as Haircuts and T-Shirts by Lifetime, S.O.S. by Earl Greyhound, and Lost Angeles by Wired All Wrong. These songs from Burnout Dominator didn't make it into the final release of Paradise. Good music always seems to get cut for unfair reasons.
1.1 - 1.6
As Burnout Paradise received more and more updates, the game strayed further away from what made the 1.0 version great. Stuff included are:
The art style was different, sporting a different font and a red and black scheme rather than the blue and white we got later on. Personally, I think the original design suited the game better, but this just all comes down to personal opinion.
-Inability to unlock sponsor vehicles
This means that the only way to get these vehicles is to either mod them in the game, or remove the latest update back to the original 1.0 release on consoles.
-Altered boost effects
When a vehicle's boost is nearly depleted, the flames burning out of the exhausts would get smaller, with smoke emitting as well. For whatever reason, this smoke effect was removed. Yes, it may be a very minor detail, but I really don't see a reason WHY it was removed.
-Stunt Run 'Combo Over' screen
If you wreck in a Stunt Run during a combo, it would display your points and combos being added up in total for that particular run. They removed this as well, and it now only displays the 'Combo Over' text when wrecking. And why was this removed exactly? There was really no point in doing that.
-Removal of filters
Something that we saw get removed, too. I know that many aren't a fan of filters, but I thought these filters provided impact of some kind, and added a bit more impact to the game. The first was a monochrome filter used at the start of some events and the pause menus. The other filter was used in the regular game, giving Paradise City a more duller and less colorful look. Though it was put to great use in Road Rage and Marked Man as the more your vehicle gets damaged from wrecking, the more the filter would wash out the colors, which is a great indicator of your vehicle's condition. They also used this filter for when you wreck into something, really making those red colors pop out more.
-Altered and removed sound effects
Lots of 'em. Going under some overpasses no longer plays a whooshing sound. Some wreck sound effects were altered or removed, leading to many becoming more toned down. Also, a lot of vehicle sounds were degraded as well in later updates.
-Wreck physics being changed
In the 1.0 release, vehicles had more weight and tended to flip and roll more in comparison to version 1.6. Starting in 1.3 and onwards, vehicles feel much lighter after wrecking, but don't flip or roll as much. It's difficult to say which I prefer, and many are still split on which are inherently better.
These next changes seemed like they were made to make the game more accessible. I have a feeling that EA thought some elements of the game were too hard for casual players and needed Criterion to turn them down to make the game more appealing.
-Stunt Runs being far easier
Before, they used to be very punishing, and there was a lot of pressure to maintain the combo, as the combo timer was really short. So they decided to make it longer, reducing in time the bigger and bigger your combo becomes.
Smash Gates, Superjumps, and Billboards were made easier to spot. They were changed with different colors, glow effects, and so on. It's definitely not the worst change for accessibility, but it's not like they were too hard to spot in the first place anyways, so the change seems kinda pointless. I mean, the Billboards in 1.0 - 1.5 were unique in design. But in 1.6, they were changed into the generic bland and boring red Billboards we've all come to know and love.
-Race AI reduction
Considerably reduced. In 1.0, they were much more difficult to beat, and you could lose a race if you weren't careful or smart. In 1.6 and onwards, they were turned down to make it even easier to win races, meaning that they really aren't fun anymore. Not only because of that, but they also reduced the Top Speed and Boost ratings of each and every vehicle. I cannot tell you how great it feels to drive these same vehicles in the 1.0 release. They feel so much better with their higher speed and boost stats. I don't understand who in the right mind of EA or Criterion would think to make this change. There were plenty of slower vehicles to choose from if people weren't comfortable with the higher speeds. Adding to the fact of the turned down AI means that races, the main part of Burnout, were gone. Ruined! Fortunately, Road Rage and Marked Man weren't hindered by this one bit, and still have that very aggressive AI.
I'm all for making a game more accessible to others, but this is not the right way to do it! Burnout Paradise could've been the first Burnout game to introduce the easy, medium, or hard difficulties. Yet instead, they turned down the experience for everyone.
Burnout Paradise PC
Since the PC version wasn't released alongside the consoles at the time, it was the same as the 1.6 version on consoles. What's strange is that they planned a PC release from the start.
Coming from Alex Ward in an interview at E3 2007, "We're on the PlayStation and Xbox. It's not the PC... yet."
They could've definitely released it alongside the consoles, and would've allowed PC players to experience a true 1.0 build. But anyways, one of the many problems with this port was the presence of PC only glitches.
One notable glitch was the Unpaintable Bikes Glitch (or Damaged Bikes Glitch). In the Bikes Campaign, you could win the upgraded versions of the two starting Bikes the more you progressed. These bikes in the PC version cannot be repainted because they are damaged. Normally, vehicles in Paradise need to be repaired in order to paint them. But since Bikes cannot be repaired (because Auto-Repairs aren't open when you're on bikes), it is not possible to change the paint schemes. On consoles, the bikes aren't damaged, so this glitch (or bug, because it's persistent) doesn't happen.
In addition to this, the PC version was abandoned after the 1.7 update on consoles. It never got the fixes or DLC like Cops & Robbers and Big Surf Island from the 1.8 and 1.9 updates, respectively.
And why was the PC version abandoned? That still remains a mystery. Alex Ward claims that it was because there were too many pirated copies of the game, but I have a feeling that that's not the case.
1.7 - 1.9 didn't see any significant changes besides the additions of DLC. Though one notable change was that the Road Rage Takedown cap was halved, from 40 to 20, leading to Road Rages not lasting for very long.
Burnout Paradise Remastered was an exciting announcement for everyone, and would be the definitive version we've all been waiting and hoping for. However, what we got in the end instead was a more buggier and sloppier version compared to the 1.9 build on the older generation consoles. Rather than having Criterion make the remaster, they went for Stellar Entertainment, with some of the Criterion crew lending a helping hand with the development.
The first mistake was using the PC version of Paradise as the base for the Remaster. How do we know this? Well, remember the part where I talked about the PC only glitches like the Damaged/Unpaintable Bikes Glitch? Yeah, that made it's way into the remaster. Not only did they use a worse version of the original Paradise, but they had to port over the 1.8 and 1.9 updates and DLC before then porting them to the new gen consoles! I mean, it's a basic move, but why didn't you guys use the Xbox 360/PlayStation 3 versions as the port's base? Here are a few things that are changed in the Remaster from the original:
-'Impact Time' sound effects removed
Now they just play normally in slow motion.
-DLC porting got hindered
The Jansen Toy 88 Special no longer soars through the air for as long (it's heavier than in the 1.9 version on the original), the Carson Toy Nighthawk is missing it's pulsing sound effects when boosting, and the Hunter Olympus Governor uses a monochrome version of the original Olympus's paint job instead of the camo that it had originally.
Some of these problems were fixed in the PC and Switch releases of Remastered, but never made it's way onto the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 versions strangely enough. The Damaged/Unpaintable Bikes Glitch is fixed, and the Governor now has it's camo scheme. So I guess the Xbox One and PS4 don't get anymore love because we supported them for so long? I don't know...
EA claimed that the soundtrack was completely unchanged. Well, they actually removed TWO songs. These two were Finger on The Trigger by Never Heard of It, and Everyone Has Their Secrets by Showing Off to Thieves.
After a year and a half of Remastered's release, EA decided to pull the plug on the servers for the original version. This means that you can no longer use the Hunter Olympus or Nakamura Rai-Jin Turbo anymore because they were online-only vehicles. Not only that, EA also decided to pull all the DLC from the marketplace for the original as well. So, let's say that you wanted to get the DLC for your Xbox 360 or PS3. You boot up the game and download the latest version, but you can't get the DLC. Though any DLC you already purchased before the server shutdown is still usable.
Oh, but it gets bloody worse for the original version on the PC...
Physical copies no longer start up, as the online license check no longer functions, meaning you need to crack the code to play the game, and the DLC that was available for the PC version no longer works because that same online license system was also associated with the DLC.
Burnout Paradise is still a great game, though; don't let this negative post keep you from enjoying it. But I personally can't help to think that Burnout Paradise could've been better than what we ended up with. Not only did the changes turn down the experience, with the sheer incompetence of Remastered, the screwed over original PC version, the server shutdown, and de-listing of all the DLC from the original console versions makes Burnout Paradise quite an experience that was, let's say, botched on any platform.
Dangerous Driving 2 is coming out in Spring next year, so let's hope that it's not as botched as Burnout Paradise was.