While the "June gloom" continues to drape Los Angeles in a blanket of temperate, comfortable despair (I don't recall moving to Seattle...), summer has arrived in another thriving metropolis: Paradise City. The construction crews are done and the bridge has been opened to Big Surf Island, an automotive playground that lies east of downtown. The expansion for Burnout Paradise is available today, but I had the chance to bomb around the beach a couple months ago for an advance preview.
As you cross the bridge you'll notice that the Paradise City urban planners hired some whacked-out contractors: what would be impassable to regular cars is a launching pad for your turbo-charged vehicles. Before you even get to the island, there's a strong temptation to make multiple passes on the bridge's Super Jump. Once that's been satiated, the island tour begins. And that's actually what one of the two new events is called: Island Tour. Since Big Surf is a more concentrated serving of Burnout, most races last long enough to take you through most of the area. Different Tours will take you on different routes through the city zones and the coastal roads to get you familiar with the terrain, and the path layout feels a bit more natural than the rigid city grid, which can at times be disorienting.
Helping alleviate that confusion and avoiding last-minute wrong turns that take you out of the race even though it looked like it was the right way to go (can you tell that I'm bitter?) is a navigational upgrade that's long overdue: lighted checkpoint pillars á la Midnight Club. They are a tremendous help if you lose your bearings on the island, and hopefully they'll make their way into the main game at some point.
The other new event is called "There & Back," which starts you on the island but takes you back into the city to hit a checkpoint before returning to the original starting line. Unfortunately there are no races the other way (mainland - island - mainland), most likely due to the fact that not all regular Paradise owners will be buying up island property.
And don't adjust your color settings, because everything that was yellow in the city is now orange on the island: this means all smashable billboards, fences, and Super Jump indicators. There are 75 new smash fences, 45 billboards, and 15 new Super Jumps, including the aforementioned bridge. And for a small island, Big Surf has a couple of key areas, including a mini-downtown complete with tall buildings (and, of course, jumps), a sprawling construction site with plenty of stunt potential, and an out-of-season ski jump that delivers one of the biggest leaps in the game.
Bottom line: More Burnout is always welcome, and the $12.99 PSN / 1000 Microsoft Point Paradise City tourism tax seems just about right for what we're getting.
So, are you interested in a Burnout vacation home? Here's a pamphlet...