By Eli Green
Sep 18, 2008 - 19:00
I had the chance to try out the Burnout Paradise Bike Pack for about an hour today. The new Pack isn't time limited or anything, I just haven't had a lot of time to play recently. The new Pack is available free of charge. It's a little over 450 megabytes, so even on high speed it can take a bit of time to download, especially if you're trying to upload videos to Revver of YouTube at the same time you're trying to download it.
|You can actually do this in game. Just shut off your bike and change the camera angle.|
Thankfully, with the Bike Pack there isn't a whole lot to talk about as far as new features go, since we already mentioned them in the previous article. It's very satisfying to use bikes in a Burnout title for the first time. You've got a choice from two bikes to start with, a slew of fresh Burning Routes, called Burning Rides for the bike versions, which include either day or night routes, and a new license to complete. The new day and night cycle brings new challenges to Road Rules, since traffic density differs by time of day. This also makes things a little more fair, because players won't just be able to pick the time of day when roads are clearest and use that as the standard for that street. You'll have to set the Road Rules for both high and low traffic densities.
I haven't seen the dynamic weather system in effect yet, but it is there. Other players I spoke to while online during my short play session talked about racing in the rain. I'm excited to get to try that for myself, though I still don't know if we'll be seeing any snow in the game.
|You can jump, just no stunts.|
One thing you'll probably notice quite quickly while using the Bike Pack is that there are no bikes on the road while you're playing in a car and, when online, none of the other players are in cars while you're on a bike and vice-versa. Most likely, Criterion Games hasn't figured out how to make the game fair for players who want to be on bikes while other players are using cars. Currently, the players on the bikes would be much simpler targets.
Controlling the bikes are relatively easy. There is a bit of a learning curve for effective braking and cornering, but it actually feels quite natural. It took me less than a minute to get a feel for tight cornering. Pulling off wheelies is easy as pie and, interestingly, Criterion decided to make it impossible to fall off when doing one. The hold the control stick down and the biker will manage the rest for you. You will, however, want to make sure if you need to turn a corner, that the bike is down. Quite unfortunately, there is no E-Brake, so you'd darn well better ease up the gas before you crash into that wall in front of you! This leaves all turning control down to the gas, brakes and the body control of the riders, who are quite skilled, so you can take some pretty tight turns at relatively high speeds. I say relatively because the tighter the turn, the slower you'll need to be going. The lack of E-Brake does leave out the possibility of sliding, which could have been a useful, if not at least cool, gameplay mechanic.
|There are areas in Paradise City where only bikes can go.|
Another addition, introduced specially for the bikes portion of the game, are Paradise Awards. They are like extra Achievements for that portion of the game. Why they didn't just add extra Achievements is beyond me, but it's still a nice addition because it increases the continuing playability of the game.
Out of the two bikes readily available when you download the Bike Pack, neither of them have boost. You can't pull off stunts while on a bike, and you can't do a quick stop or 180. Overall, it looks like what the Bike Pack is really going for, as far as the bikes go at least, is an introduction to bikes, something to give the development team a chance to play around with bike controls while still giving players the chance to actually use them, rather than just wait for a full blown bike control system. Personally, I like that idea. They've already got the basics down, so the bikes handle precisely. Now all they've got to add in are the rest of the Burnout elements to turn biking in Burnout Paradise into a true Burnout experience.
|Boats at the docks of Paradise Island.|
Criterion Games is still working on more major game changing updates that are still yet to come. The next major update, currently codenamed Eastwood, though it already nicknamed Island, will extend the reach of Paradise City to a brand new Island off the coast. Players can already take a look at the “progress” in the game by heading to the massive bridge that was added near Angus Wharf when the Cagney update launched. We haven't confirmed it yet, but we're pretty sure this will be yet another free update from Criterion, and it's looking to be coming along beautifully so far. Who knows, maybe it will include some new bike gameplay mechanics as well.
|The beach on Paradise Island.|