There’s nothing like the feeling of blazing through a turn, bouncing off of an opponent to correct for being overly ambitious with the accelerator, watching them eat it in slow motion and cruising along like the smartest racer on the road. Criteron’s Burnout franchise knew what it was doing, foregoing licensed vehicles and the finicky manufacturers that don’t want to see their babies get trashed in the most ridiculous ways. Instead, the developer utilized fictional vehicles to create a string of racing games that threw all possible craps anyone could give to the curb. If the player isn’t driving like their vehicle was full of bees and the only hope was to smash them against the windshield from the inside, then they were playing wrong. Publisher EA has been trying to recapture the magic with recent Need for Speed titles, but there’s simply no substitute for Burnout. This is why the Switch release of the objectively best game in the series, Burnout Paradise, is so welcome.
When it released in 2018, Burnout Paradise Remastered felt like a breath of fresh air, despite the fact that it was a re-release of a title from 2008. Throwing all of the DLC in, upping the resolution to 4K,and the fresh pass over the textures revitalized the title for the current generation of consoles and PC. Coming in a couple years later with the Switch version, EA is looking to allow fans of the versatile system to get their crash on while out and about. It’s a worthy goal and the port is good. The bad news is that it’s not worth snagging for players who game at home and have already snagged a copy of the 2018 release on more powerful hardware.
That isn’t to say that the Switch version is horrible; far from it. But it doesn’t stand up against its big brothers. When docked, the game runs at 900p, though it upscales well on any TV with the capability. In handheld, the limit is the expected 720p. With the smaller screen, it actually looks better in handheld mode. The textures feel crisper and the jagged edges that pop up in docked mode aren’t noticeable at all. EA likes to boast that they’ve locked the framerate at 60fps. In practice, this isn’t quite true. In handheld mode, there are hitches often enough, so much so that it’s possible to biff a drift or the threading of the needle in tight spaces. They’re rare, but they do happen. While docked, the frame rate is more steady. The only times it choked during testing was during Showtime mode where the player is literally bouncing down the street, crashing into everything possible. It also chugs a bit during a the post event celebration screen. It does look better than the Xbox 360 version, to be sure, but the older edition didn’t have the framerate issues.
It should also be noted that Burnout Paradise Remastered drinks the battery’s milkshake in handheld mode. After about an hour’s worth of play, half of the battery was gone from a full charge. To be fair, testing was done on a first generation version of the Switch, which has a slightly smaller battery, and WiFi was turned on the entire time. The life would have been extended had Airplane Mode been engaged. Still, a huge portion of the fun to be had in Burnout Paradise is in online play. There’s nothing quite like meeting up with some friends, queuing up some Adam Ant and trying to pull off simultaneous stupidity in the vast playground of the city. Thus, there’s a bit of a trade off for those that like playing in handheld.
This latter part is also where EA missed a golden opportunity to make this version worth a triple dip. The flexible nature of the system would allow for grand meet ups with local players, a great way to bond with friends and an even better way to annoy strangers at a convention. Had EA given Stellar Entertainment, the studio that handled the port job, latitude and budget to bolt on an ad hoc mode, this version would be an absolute no-brainer. This is mitigated somewhat by the Party Mode, where players can take turns to beat each other’s score, but this mode is also available in the other Remastered editions, so it’s not like it’s anything new.
With all of that out of the way, it still must be said that Burnout Paradise is an essential title, even for folks that don’t enjoy racing. It’s an absolutely insane experience that gets the adrenaline flooding the system. It’s a title that encourages creativity as even failed attempts at stupidity are vastly amusing. Attempting a simultaneous flip with a buddy, only to collide in midair and spray the ground with flying car parts just doesn’t get old. Succeeding in the stunt after multiple attempts feels great. Blazing around a winding mountain road while Alice in Chains plays still exhilarates. The Switch port manages to uphold that standard, despite the flaws that come with the lesser powered hardware. The inclusion of all of the DLC makes the experience even better, even if the more powerful vehicles break the difficulty curve of the main game. It’s not a game about challenge, though that certainly in there. It’s a game about being silly.
All said, with the Switch release, there’s no reason for any self-respecting gamer to skip out on Burnout Paradise. It’s out for every major platform now. People who don’t have access to more powerful hardware should pick this up. It stands out alone in the pantheon of Switch games. Those who need Burnout on the go will find little to complain about here, as well, unless they are extremely picky or are assigned to find the flaws. Those that already have a copy of Remastered for a more powerful platform and have no need for a portable version aren’t going to be missing out, sure, but come on. This is Burnout and the world needs more Burnout.