Big Surf Island: Ups and Downs

Burnout Paradise Big Surf Island 5

Despite some nagging issues Burnout Paradise is one of my favorite games this gen. I put in more hours than I’m willing to admit in the main game and I eyed the Island ever since it dropped. So the other day I decided to take the roughly $13 plunge into Big Surf Island. I never bought DLC before this so it was a pretty geeky watershed moment for me. To put it short, BSI is a well designed addition to the mainland. The problem is that it left me wanting for even more than what it offered events-wise.

Starting off, the new buggy is fun as all hell to drive. It’s light and not that quick. It makes up those shorcomings with ridiculous stunt ability. It flips, spins and stays in the air for days. I made sure to use it and it’s upgraded version as much as I could as I got all the billboards and smash gates. It also helps that you can use any of the 9 unlockable cars on the mainland as well as use the island to do mainland challenges: like stunt runs.

Let’s get to the events. I was kinda disappointed that there were only 15 available. I did like that the checkpoint races had new markers that can be seen from a distance. I see the folks at Criterion finally took a note from the Midnight Club series. Honestly this game would’ve been more enjoyable with a similar navigation setup (markers, rotating map and a 3D arrow in the top center of the HUD telling you where to turn.) But I digress, I would’ve preferred more races and even stunt runs. I hated stunt runs in the main game because they often dropped you in an area with few ramps or super jumps. Jumps come in spades on BSI and it made the limited amount of stunt runs available so much better.

Burnout Paradise Big Surf Island 2

Hell, I even did the timed road rules challenges just to have something to do. I really didn’t care for them in the main game but the water runs dry in BSI after you do the events, find all the billboards and get the smash gates. Not to mention there are showtime events available too. I’m not crazy about showtime either but it’s something else to occupy yourself with.

On the plus side the unlockbale cars are pretty different in a good way. The aforementioned buggies are great for stunt runs, the hummer is like a stunt/aggression hybrid that looks ridiculous and the toy legend cars are a nice surprise. I haven’t unlocked them all yet so I still have some hidden gems to play for.

Moving on to online features, the DLC only has 10 challenges. It’s cool that you can complete them with any number of people in the party but c’mon now. With the ridiculous design of the Island you’d expect that the team would’ve went in on new challenge ideas. Additionally, challenges were a big reason why I played the game so much online in the first place. It’s a buzzkill to get such a paltry selection of them.Thankfully, the challenges available are pretty cool and fun to complete with friends.

Burnout Paradise Big Surf Island 3

Oh yeah, I don’t know why they decide on this but currently you can’t do online rases on BSI, AT ALL. It’s a shame considering the single player races were really dope and were a nice change of pace from the city’s race design. The game really dropped the ball on that feature. The island is perfect for short circuits with tons of opportunities for jumps, drifts and takedowns so I really can’t see why they didn’t support it. I haven’t tried online marked man or road rage on the Island yet. Still I wouldn’t be surprised if you couldn’t do those on BSI either.

Big Surf Island really has me conflicted. On the one hand the area is so well made and fun to drive that the shortcomings don’t seem as bad. Hell it got me playing Burnout again. Then you think about all the things Criterion could’ve done with it and it makes you scratch your head. If there’s a 2.0 update I would really like for the team to add WAY more online challenges, enable online racing (for bikes too!) and perhaps more events for BSI. The last one could be difficult considering the game only as events at intersections. I think all of them in BSI have events so they’d have to place them elsewhere. Also, I’d love for a navigation system like midnight club but I”m not holding my breath. So in closing, I like the Island but so much more should be available in it. I’d hate to see them drop support for it after this huge release.

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