Paradise's gameplay is set in the fictional "Paradise City", an open world in which players can compete in several types of races. Players can also compete online, which includes additional game modes, such as "Cops and Robbers". Several free game updates introduce new features such as a time-of-day cycle and motorcycles. The game also features paid downloadable content in the form of new cars and the fictional "Big Surf Island".
The game was received well by critics, with aggregate score sites GameRankings reporting an average score of 88% and Metacritic reporting an average score of 88 out of 100. The game won several awards in 2008, with Spike TV, Gametrailers and GameSpot all awarding it Best Driving Game. Reviewers felt the game had an excellent sense of speed, and praised the open world gameplay, a first for the Burnout series.