At an Electronic Arts event in New York yesterday I got my first chance to ride a motorcycle in "Burnout Paradise." What I sampled is the hit racing game's second major free update, formerly called Davis, but now called Burnout Bikes. It's slated for release in the next couple of months.
But how in the world do motorcycles work in the T-rated crash-heavy realm of "Burnout"?
First of all, don't expect motorcycles to be smashed to bits.
Cars in "Burnout: Paradise" crumple and crack in magnificent detail. A crash with a motorcycle will be less dynamic. What I saw were crashed bikes that stayed fully intact. No loose wheels. No bent handlebars. And the rider? He or she -- gender is also arriving in the next "Paradise" expansion -- will disappear as your crashed bike skids on asphalts and smacks concrete.
The point of bikes in "Burnout" isn't crashing. It's speed.
The point of bikes in "Burnout" isn't crashing. It's speed. I played one of the expansion's four bikes, swiftly rocketing to some of the fastest speeds I've experienced in the already blazingly fast game. Triggering an optional first-person view further increased the sense of speed. Tilting back the analog stick sent my rider's bike into a wheelie, which is measured for duration in real-time just like drifting is for the game's cars. I'm sure someone will be sure to perform a wheelie all around Paradise City.
The Burnout Bikes expansion doesn't add terrain to the city. That will come in a later addition. This expansion brings the bikes, new signs for the bikes to break through, and a motorcycle-license career path that can run parallel to the car-license progression. An EA spokesperson told me that the new content should add about 15 hours of playtime to the game. In addition to single-player challenges, up to eight players will be able to face off online in competitive motorcycle events (motorcycle vs. car won't be available in this expansion but is planned for the future). The motorcycles won't be able to be used in Showtime, the "Paradise" version of the popular "Burnout" Crash Mode, but they will be able to set separate day and night Road Rules speed records for any road on the game's map. As always, Road Rules records are visible by any fellow players on your friends list and the game tracks which friend currently rules each road.
The "Burnout Bikes" expansion will also introduce a day-night cycle and weather to the game. I didn't see the weather effects but was told they will introduce visibility-hampering fog as well as cosmetic cloud effects.
The game's previous expansion, Cagney, has only been delivered to PS3 "Burnout Paradise" owners. It's been delayed for the Xbox 360 but is still coming, with Bikes to follow. From what I heard it sounds like PS3 owners should be more confident in getting Bikes in EA's hoped-for timeframe during the next couple of months.
And what about the rumor of "Burnout" adding planes next? That's something EA reps wouldn't tell me anything about. They hope we'll be happy with free motorcycles, weather and the introduction of women into the Paradise population for now.