I was fortunate enough to snag an Xbox Series X preorder a couple of weeks ago. It was destined for an early-December delivery, but that suddenly got moved up at launch and it arrived a day later. A launch-day miracle.
I'll share some thoughts on the Series X another day, as well as update you on my continued failure to buy a PS5.
I was run ragged last week, so it wasn't until the weekend that I was able to spend some real time with my new console. Armed with a Game Pass subscription, I was thoroughly spoilt for choice. So many options to make use of my 4K-ing, ray tracing, teraflopping wonder box. Assassin's Creed Valhalla was the top candidate - I bought a copy - closely followed by a prettier-than-ever Forza Horizon 4.
So what did you play, I hear you ask? Well, I spent most of Saturday evening playing a remaster of a twelve year old game, one that I have played through several times before. I chose to play Burnout Paradise, and I have no regrets.
Is there a more joyful experience in games than racing through a fresh save file in Burnout Paradise? If there is, I've forgotten about it. But for the sake of the point I'm trying to make here, let's say that there isn't. Let's say that zipping around an unspoiled Paradise City is the best thing you can do with a controller in your hand.
Everything is open, present and available. Everywhere you look you see as-yet-untouched fun. Pristine billboards, bright yellow gates inviting you to smash, and a new event at every set of traffic lights. A complete menu of races, stunt runs and marked men for your delectation. It doesn't matter where you are headed, just go there as fast as you can and Paradise will serve you unfettered joy.
BP is at it's absolute best at the start. Car unlocks and better licenses are all well and good, but they're just window dressing. You are given everything you need to fully enjoy this space from the outset. Nothing is out of reach; you are given the keys to the city and invited to do as you please.
It feels so natural, racing around Paradise. It's as if you are being pulled through the city by some irresistible force, one that cares not for the consequences of speed. I know all the courses, the result of multiple playthroughs and a minimal sat-nav system that never shows you the full route. You're supposed to familiarize yourself with shortcuts, and never let things like gravity or fall damage get in the way of searching them out. From the driverless cars to the impossibly colourful sunsets, Criterion wanted you to know that this space exists for enjoyment and is unconcerned with anything as boring as realism.
It's not optimized for Series X, but the shorter load times are a god send, as is the quick resume feature. To be able to jump straight back into the action is great news for me and Burnout Paradise, but less so for all the other games on my console. The city looks more colourful than ever, and I find myself squinting through the overwhelming brightness of mid-day races.
I'll stop playing Burnout Paradise at some point in the next few days, and focus on AC Valhalla instead. Probably not tonight though.
Race you to Wildcats!