The Year of Shame challenge is finally over and it’s time to play something new. First game for me was an August Playstation Plus title, and one I’d been looking forward to playing. That game is Criterions take the 2005 EA game by the same name. Being such a fan of Burnout Paradise, I went into the game with high expectations, and hoped that this would essentially be Burnout Paradise 2, however after playing for a little while, I realised it wasn’t. However once I’d stopped comparing it to Burnout and took it for what it was, a decent, very pretty looking racing game, I quite enjoyed it.
The story was very light and fluffy (as with most storylines in a racing game), you, as a driving as tasked fighting your way to the top of the most wanted list. This is achieved by racing, drifting, taking out cars during races, and just generally driving like a loon.
The core gameplay is picking up a licensed car from over 100 jump points around the map. Once in the car you can do a number of races deemed as Easy, Medium or Hard. Completing these will give you a chunk of SP (the in-games points) and dependant on which race you’ve picked, you may be able to pick up a car modification. The modifications boil down to improving handling, toughness, and speed. Each of the modification will become ‘Pro’ after a certain task has been done. For example, the NOS will upgrade to Pro once you’ve used it for three hundred seconds. Bumping up to ‘Pro’ essentially upgrades the modification and continuing to use the NOS example, it will burn for a fraction longer.
As well as the racing, there are a number of items to keep you busy, in the way of billboards and speed cameras. These for me were one of the highlights of the game. As you fly past a speed camera, a leaderboard would pop up telling you what speeds your friends had been able to achieve, for pretty much every speed camera the top of my list was BrotherBrown who must have unlocked some kind of jet car and spent a little while driving past all sixty six speed camera at 180mph plus. This was the same for the billboards, some of the billboards would be simply company logos, but the rest would be your friends’ avatar, and they would stay there until you were able to cover the most distance once you’d crashed through the billboard. Again, BrotherBrowns logo was on pretty much every billboard.
A driving game wouldn’t be a driving game without cars, and this was bursting at the seams with licenced cars. You had your usual EVOs, your scoobies, your GTRs, and when you went exploring you’d find some more interesting cars, like the Caterham 7 and the Atom. As you played through the game and started to unlock the Most Wanted cars, you then got the chance to play in the like of the BugattiVeyron and the Koenigsegg Agera R. Each and every car can be upgraded to give better control, speed and make you tougher against the cop. The only downside was you would need to run through the races again to upgrade each car individually, which lead to quite a lot of repetition.
As I’m one of the few people that owns the Playstation Move Steering wheel, I thought I’d have a go with that, and they implemented it very good. It works well as a precise controller; however they also make good use of the rubber balls that lights up on the end. General driving about it was green; however get into hot water with the cops and it flashes between red and blue. When you’ve finally lost the cops the balls will start at purple and transition through to blue in sync with your heat level.
As with any EA game, there was a full catalogue of licensed music to play through as your tearing around the street. This again was well implemented as the volume would adjust with the speed you were driving.
As I wanted to pick up a few simple trophies, I took the game online. I very quickly found a group of people to play against, and did a series of events which worked very smooth. Each event would start with everyone racing to a meet up point, then as we waited for everyone to turn up, the other racers would constantly ram each other. The events I took part in where, ‘See how far you can jump in a given amount of time’, three races, and a ‘land on a platform and stay there for a given time’. At the end of the five events, the points were calculated and the winner was announced. Not a bad experience at all.
Now my slight issues with the game, there were far too many pay walls in the game, I understand that DLC is a lucrative business, however when it gets in the way of the main campaign, this gets annoying. There were a number of times where I’d lose the cops, just get to cool down mode and think…right, there’s a car there, I’ll quickly switch and then I’m scott free, only to find that pressing the triangle button actually took me to the store instead of simply switching cars. Once I’d closed the store down, and got back to be current car, the cops were back on me. There was another instance where I’d won the race against Most Wanted car #4, and I’d spent about five minutes chasing it so I could shut it down. I’d gone through a serious amount of NOS, my bumpers where hanging off, my boot was flapping about, but I was inches of his back end….only for him to drive straight through a pay wall or which I smashed into!….to be left with a message saying ‘Press triangle to go to store’.
Another minor niggle was you had two camera options, bumper cam and external cam. Personally I prefer bonnet cam as it gives you enough height to see the road ahead, but without the distraction of the car on the screen.
The final thing that really bugged me was no indication of a turning. I found myself of many occasions missing a turn off during a race. Yes they’ve put a checkpoint near the turning, but I found I spend most of the races with one eye on the mini-map.
All in all, a decent enough driving game, handled very arcadey and looks very good, however found it a little too short, and quite repetitive, but as a free Playstation Plus game, it was well worth the time spent on it.
Approx Time taken to beat – 12 hours
Difficulty setting – Normal
Score – [Rating:4/5]