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If a publisher wants its products to survive any significant time in today's harsh and ultra competitive games market then it seems that they have either got to provide a killer multiplayer experience or keep the public interested by releasing add-ons through downloadable content. Criterion Games have certainly taken this to heart and have given their fans download content in spades since the release of Burnout Paradise almost two years ago.
Add-ons so far though, haven't actually introduced any new areas to explore. That's where Big Surf Island comes in - and a lot of fans have been waiting with bated breath. Connected to the original area by a previously inaccessible bridge, the Island is not big in size, but is most certainly big in content!
Before you even get to the Island you are presented with the first of nine original cars in this pack. The Carson Dust Storm for instance is a dirt buggy that is great fun to throw around the ramps and mega-jumps that litter Big Surf. It's then onto the Island itself via the bridge and you immediately get a taste of what's in store for you as you get loads of air over multiple ramps as well as a mega-jump of you turn around and come back the other way.
This certainly live up to the name 'mega' - with the biggest jump on the Island giving you over 4.5 seconds of air time! These jumps also give the added bonus of allowing you to view the gorgeous Surf Island scenery.
The standard exploration encouragements of billboards, crashes, road rules, and mega-jumps are here of course, with most being discovered 'in the way' as you roam the streets or take part in the races. A cute 'toy' car is awarded for completing each of these, with the remaining cars unlocked by doing the buggy's burning run, completing 50% and 100% and doing all the freeburn challenges. The toy cars are great fun, although not as titchy as I thought they were going to be: they are around a quarter the normal size. They do have a slightly annoying, though realistic engine noise which means I didn't particularly enjoy driving them around for an extended period. They are also strangely resilient - you can literally boost straight into a bus and you won't get wiped out and most crashes are resolved as driveaways, regardless of the size of the impact. Still - they're just there for fun so that's not big deal.
These jumps also give the added bonus of allowing you to view the gorgeous Surf Island scenery.
The same announcer is used for this download content but Criterion Games have obviously not re-employed him to record any new dialog. No race specific commentary is given - just 'you are here - race to here'. Again, not a big deal, but I feel it would have given a slightly better sense of immersion had it been different.
Apparently Surf Island was initially planned to be yet another free content add-on a-la Cagney and the Bikes pack, but as it developed Criterion realised that it was a far more ambitious release than first intended. And so this leads on to whether this qualifies, at 1000 Microsoft Points - or around GBP9, as good value for money? I have got around seven or eight hours of gameplay out of Big Surf Island which is not a massive amount but I personally think it is worth it. And it has also had the added bonus of getting me to have another play around on the main game area and joining in a couple of freeburns - which I wouldn't have done had I not got this download content. But perhaps more than that, this is a great way to remind yourself about simply how much fun an evening spent with Burnout can be.
This is a great way to remind yourself about simply how much fun an evening spent with Burnout can be.
Let's end with a recap of the download content that has been offered by Criterion Games over the months since the original release.
The first free update offered 3 new online game modes - Online Stunt Run, Online Marked Man and Online Road Rage, 70 new challenges to enhance Freeburn, 2 new cars, some new paint-jobs, and overhaul of the race system, and the rest of the game saw some additional polish
Another free update, Burnout Bikes contains added Burning Rides and Midnight Rides - and a 24hr day / night cycle with dynamic weather. New day and night record times to beat on all 64 streets in Paradise City and 70 all-new bike-specific challenges in freeburn. You can also choose between male or female riders with corresponding bikes.
Cops and Robbers is a team-based online game mode for 2-8 Players. Playing as either Cops or Robbers your team either recovers the stolen gold or delivers it to your hideout. 33 new Police vehicles added which can also be used when you are not playing Cops and Robbers.
Pass-the-pad local multiplayer for up to eight players. Challenges such as land a barrel roll, race to a specific point, earn as much airtime as possible and so on are carried out by each player in turn with the winner announced after each round is completed.
This pack contains just two cars - the Carson Extreme Hotrod and the Montgomery Hawker Mech. The former is the faster car in Paradise with a locked boost which can't be stopped unless the car comes to a halt. The Mech allows you to switch between the three boost styles (speed, stunt or aggression).
This pack features toy versions of nine of the most popular Paradise cars such as the Hunter Takedown 4x4, Hunter Citizen and Jansen P12. It has been said that these cars are ideal for stunt runs as they are very manoeuvrable and harder to crash, They also have a horn or special function by clicking on the left stick.
Legendary cars features four unique cars based on existing models, but modified to be parodies of cars from movies and tv shows. The Jansen P12 88 Special is a copy of the Back to the Future car, the Hunter Cavalry Bootlegger from Dukes of Hazard, the Hunter Manhattan Spirit from Ghostbusters, and the Carson GT Nighthawk from Knight Rider.
With so many different perspectives it can be hard to know where to start - a little like walking into a crowded pub. Sorry about that.
But so far we've not found a way to streamline our review output - there's basically too much of it. So, rather than dilute things for newcomers we have decided to live with the hubbub while helping new readers find the columnists they will enjoy.
Our columnists each focus on a particular perspective and fall into one of the following types of gamers: