(Editor’s note: Since we have two massive Burnout enthusiasts on the crew, and they both wanted to write their own perspective… just to spice up Gamer Limit…we let them.)
Martin Bigg: It’s been nearly 18 months since Burnout Paradise was first let loose, so it is a testament to Criterion’s dedication to the franchise that they are still continually supporting the game at this point. 2009 has been awashed with a stash of premium content to download, but unfortunately some of these packs have only highlighted Burnout’s turn to the dark side that is EA, with their tendency to stamp substantial prices on subpar content. The pricing, for what has essentially been existing car models resprayed with new liveries and a few gimmicky abilities for the most part, has indeed been questionable, especially when content such as Burnout Bikes was available for free prior to this.
Big Surf Island therefore marks Criterion’s latest endeavour into the increasingly profitable DLC market, and has been by far and away the most sought after release since the entire raft of DLC was first mapped out. But is it worth the price of the admission this time?
Big Surf Island is an entirely new area located on the outskirts of the coast, accessible through a new connecting bridge outside of Paradise City. It essentially plays out like a vibrant vacation, highlighted by the menus new sizzling colour scheme attempting to keep the game fresh. On the surface, the island appears to be relatively small however, as it is roughly the same size as the downtown area, but upon closer inspection the magnitude is brought to life – you soon realise there is a recurring emphasis on stunts and that there is more than first meets the eye when you analyse the true scale.
If it was ever possible, Big Surf Island boosts Burnout Paradise to dizzying new heights through the inclusion of mega jumps. The prefix of “mega” is justified, as Big Surf’s mega jumps border on downright ludicrous, soaring your car through even more preposterous heights than ever before. For example, right from the start there is ample opportunity to test these out, as the linking suspension bridge implores you to make an almighty leap of faith over the main support, which effectively amounts to scoring a touchdown over a goal post. There are a further 14 mega jumps scattered across the island all in all, including a giant leap through a lighthouse and a spectacular ski jump, which is incidentally the largest jump in the game.
Overall, the map area is a terrifically well designed playground, densely populated with activity and landmarks around every corner. Highlights include a car park accessible from a spiral ramp (executing a perfect drift spanning the whole ramp is particularly satisfying) and a construction site which is guaranteed to be a hit for online free burners. Previously, the airport and quarry areas were prime hot spots for players to meet and try to outwit each other with perilous stunts, but the construction site’s multiple levels, copious ramps and even a disguised half pipe prove to be the ultimate proving ground. Ascending up the multiple layers of the construction site also leads to a perfect panoramic view, which overlooks the whole of Paradise City.
In addition to the feature packed island, Big Surf comes equipped with 9 new vehicles to play with. 8 of these vehicles need to be unlocked however, but the game starts you off with the island’s centrepiece – the Dust Storm. As a buggy, it would probably feel more at home in MotorStorm, but it makes for a surprisingly good drive in Burnout, particularly across Big Surf’s new extended off road region. It is a joy to behold, and very agile and ideal for performing the abundant stunts on offer. Unfortunately however, the remaining vehicles are simply reduxes of existing cars, in the same vein as the previous batches of content we have been treated to. In fact, the final 5 vehicles are actually toy versions of the Legendary Cars released earlier this year, which is somewhat disappointing.
To complete the package, Big Surf Island includes an additional 15 events to complete, comprising of the standard races, marked man and road rage events we have grown accustomed to. A new event type has also been introduced entitled Island Tour, which acts as a challenging time trial designed to absorb you into the various locations around Big Surf. Completionists will also revel over the further 45 billboards and 75 smashable gates that can be found, so if you thought you had completed Burnout Paradise, you have some extra work cut out for you. As a result, it is said that Big Surf Island can take approximately 5 hours to complete.
And now back to that delicate issue of pricing. Big Surf Island will set you back £9.99 ($12.99 if you reside in Americaland), which is a fair deal compared to what was served up in the previous premium packs. And yet I can’t help but still think that it is just a little too overpriced. Look at the South Central map pack released for Midnight Club: Los Angeles not too long ago, for example – the entire map, which was considerably larger than Big Surf Island, was given away for free. And then for an additional fee of £7.99/$9.99, you received 9 original cars, 26 new races, 12 new battle maps, 10 new delivery missions, over 100 new red light races and a host of extra car parts and music tracks.
Nevertheless, Big Surf Island is a delight to play and a worthy expansion to the already packed city of Paradise. It may initially seem to be underwhelming in size and value, but there is a tremendous amount of scope as every square foot is packed to the absolute brim, and you will be instantly captivated within seconds. The increase of stunts is also refreshing and literally heightens the fun factor to a new dimension. If you can only purchase one premium download, then you would be hard pressed not to venture into Big Surf Island.
Martin gives Big Surf Island an 8 out of 10 (Reviewed on Playstation 3).
Surfs up, dude! Can you believe it? Big Surf Island, man! I mean, like! It’s totally bodacious, right? Dude! It’s par excellence! Have you ever seen so many amazing jumps? Like, it made my eyes bug out, man!
Oh, and the new Carson Duststorm, dude, it’s radical! Can you believe the gnarly offroading you can do in that thing? It’s a beast! Like, its so amazing. So tubular! So radical! So…well, just read the whole review why don’tcha?
Burnout Paradise has been a fun fan favorite for almost two years now, providing hours of high intensity racing. They’ve supplemented it all of this time with a steady stream of title updates, free downloadable content, and then the type you’ve got to shell out the cash for. Until Big Surf Island, you were only buying cars, but its not a surprise that Criterion is charging for such a massive update. For only 1000 Microsoft Points, or $12.00 on the Playstation Network, you’re given a brand new, playground to enjoy along with eight new cars to unlock. You’re given the new Carson Duststorm right away, along with seventy-five new smashes, forty-five new billboards, and twenty new “Mega Jumps”. Yeah, these jumps aren’t “Super”, they’re “Mega”.
All of this new content alone sounds good, but is it worth the price you pay? Almost? …Yeah, it is.
Almost is a dangerous path to take, but there is plenty of justification for it. Upon downloading the large update to Burnout Paradise you will find yourself presented with a very large, very alluring suspension bridge for you to cross. Right away the developers did an excellent job showing you the exciting things to come by providing new, brightly colored billboards to smash into, and the awesome jumps to get you there. It’s a good feeling when driving onto the island for the first time. In fact, it’s an experience.
New content presents itself immediately with fifteen brand new events to conquer, along with the new Island Tour, which is essentially a Burning Route that you can do in any car of your choice. It shows off a lot of the new locations in the island and brings to a general knowledge of how to get around. Cruising around in your dune buggy picking up speed around every corner and making those massive jumps are one of the most satisfying things about this new expansion.
There are so many amazing places to explore, so many buildings to climb, and so many jumps to be made. To spoil it by talking further would be wrong.
Perhaps you can remember your first day inside of Paradise City. With DJ Atomica blasting through the radio, you were smashing every single new billboard in site. That old feeling returns as you venture through the island. One of the more unique features is that this new location is fully integrated into the old. No need to load a new section of the map, it’s there. Big Surf Island is as much of Paradise City as the Crystal Summit is. Therein lies one of the biggest reasons you will feel you must purchase this downloadable content. Will you be split away from your friends?
The reason almost is an adequate answer is because the new smashes, challenges, events, and even the cars really do not keep their value with time. All of the major new content can be completed and unlocked in about five hours; and less than that if you are an expert at this game. You are left with broken billboards, and some new cars after just a couple of days. It leaves you only wanting more…
On the other hand, you need this downloadable content to continue to be able to do everything your friends can do who have it, when you don’t. It leaves you in a quandary: one that likely will be answered by spending your hard-earned Internet bucks.
In an effort to avoid spoiling some of the unlockables, only this can be said. “Amazing, cute, awesome, powerful, fun.” Yes, I said, “cute.” These new vehicles will please any fan with their novelty and functionality.
All in all, the package is too hard to resist. A beautifully designed island with at least six more hours of content to explore. If you combine that with new cars, and a new place to break records and hang out, Burnout Paradise: Big Surf Island is worth it.
Steve gives Big Surf Island an 8.5/10 (Reviewed on Xbox 360).