Burnout Paradise Remastered has received an excellent Switch port, but the price of admission is way too steep for what it is.
Burnout Paradise Remastered on the Switch is excellent. It looks the way you remember it, runs like a dream, and offers a complete package with tons of things to do and cars to collect.
But it’s also a port of a two-year old remaster of a 12-year old game, which released at a $49.99 USD retail cost on the Nintendo eShop when the PlayStation 4 version currently costs $10 digitally and $5 on Steam.
By all means, Burnout Paradise is an arcade racer worth experiencing, and its remaster is the best way to go about it. But its other versions being drastically more affordable make the Switch one a tough sell.
Like its initial release two years ago, the Switch version of Burnout Paradise Remastered is the complete edition of Criterion’s 2008 open-world hit. All the expansions — from the additional cars, bikes, and modes to Big Surf Island and so on — are included alongside the base game, which has been optimized by Stellar Entertainment to run at 60 frames per second in 900p docked and 720p in portable mode.
It is a downgrade from its console and PC counterparts, which run in a native 1080p with 4K support, but it’s definitely not a dealbreaker. Visually, Paradise looked great when it first came out for the PS3 and Xbox 360, and it has aged remarkably well in the time since. Though it maybe isn’t running at the best fidelity possible, there was never a point where the Switch version of Paradise looked bad (on a TV or undocked) outside of a couple grainy textures or filters here and there that are barely noticeable when your car is zipping through the streets at top speed.
Perhaps more importantly, I never noticed a drop in performance. The game seemed to always stay at 60 FPS, and even if it did drop, it recovered fast enough before I could realize.
Paradise has also aged gracefully in terms of gameplay and structure. When Criterion was getting the Burnout series ready for its, at the time, true next-gen debut, the development team did so by transitioning it into an open world.
The end result was Paradise City, an expansive map that borrows bits and pieces from major cities across America to form a playground that plays to the series’ strengths and rewards exploration. The downtown area is filled with tight corners to drift around, construction sites to cut through to find shortcuts, and jumps that can either be used to your advantage in events or just as a means for faster navigation. The expressways, meanwhile, expand out into the mountains, letting you keep your foot (finger?) on the gas uninterrupted for long stretches of road.
Burnout’s main modes up to that point all made their way over too, in the form of events that are at every traffic light you come across in the game, and are started by revving your engine (holding in ZL and ZR at the same time). These events can be any of a standard race, Takedown (where you have to crash as many opposing drivers as you can within a time limit), Marked Man (get to a designated point in the city while other drivers try to total your car), Stunt Run (perform drifts, jumps, and other tricks to rack up the highest score you can), or a Burning Route (essentially a time trial).
Winning an event earns you a mark on your Paradise City license, the game’s main means of progression that starts as a learner’s permit with the goal of eventually upgrading it to a Burnout and then Elite level license.
As the wins pile up, your license improves and more cars unlock for you to try. It’s straightforward, and pretty simple, but it’s an approach that does its job in getting you from event to event, while giving you the freedom to do things at your own pace.
DJ Atomika, Paradise’s in-game radio host, put it best: “The best tip I can give to any new Paradise City resident who wants to compete is just cruise the city. Explore at your own speed, get to know the place. Finding the jumps, the shortcuts, the billboards, all that stuff is what makes you a winner.”
All the events are fun in their own way, and not only encourage different styles of driving, but also experimentation with different vehicles that carry varying stats.
While some races do keep you on a certain route through a series of checkpoints, I appreciated that a lot of them just require you to get to the finish line and don’t care how you do it. So you can take a complete detour from the rest of the pack and take a much quicker route, run all the opponents off the road, or take the standard approach of trying to outdrive them all. The game doesn’t care, first place is first place all the same in Paradise City.
Marked Man and Takedown, however, were my favorite events by far. I don’t know, something about running other cars one after the other into a support beam or off a ramp and into the ocean while Avril Lavigne’s “Girlfriend” plays on the in-game radio is oddly amusing.
Speaking of, Paradise’s licensed soundtrack is stellar all around. It’s perfectly suited to an aggressive arcade racer like this, and even includes a playlist of original tracks from older Burnout games if you have any nostalgia for them.
Admittedly, the event types do get a bit repetitive after so many hours. And while there are more than 150 vehicles available in the game, the DLC ones are unlocked for you right from the get-go, which takes away from that aforementioned encouragement to experiment because for much of my play time I already had access to a car that could pull off whatever I needed it to.
The difficulty never really presented much of a challenge, either. I never needed more than three tries to complete a particular event, and more often than not, me failing was a result of my own mistake, like taking a bad turn or accidentally driving straight into a wall that I didn’t have enough time to react to. It was almost never the result of AI drivers outsmarting me.
Paradise Remastered also retained its online suite in the Switch version, allowing you to participate in ranked events or invite friends into Freeburn Online to drive around the city together and create custom matches. But in an attempt, albeit a limited one, to try out a few online races, the game couldn’t find me a ranked match to jump into. I’m not sure if that was a server issue, low player count, or something with Nintendo Online, though.
Burnout Paradise Remastered’s pros far outweighs its cons, and I’d argue that its cons, as far as the game itself goes, are pretty minor to begin with.
The big issue is that as good as the Switch port is, it really doesn’t make sense to pay $50 for it when there are far more affordable ways to get the exact same experience. Maybe if the Switch was the only platform you own, but even then, it may be better to wait for a decent sale unless you absolutely cannot hold off.