Alongside game development, Three Fields Entertainment are seemingly working on the art of gamer teasing. A studio founded by veterans of Criterion Games their first game, Dangerous Golf, pulled the beating heart out of their opus – Burnout’s Crash Mode – and translated it to a hellishly fun round of explosive, slow motion combo-building crazy golf. Following it up with Danger Zone last year raised the hopes of gamers around the world, by bringing the concept back to cars, but in tethering it to internal crash testing the whole idea lost some of its former punch.
Now we’re getting Danger Zone 2, and while it’s still not just Burnout – the next game from Three Fields actually will be an arcade racer – this is the closest to that game’s Crash Mode concept we’ve seen in a number of years, and boy how we’ve missed it.
The aim of Danger Zone 2 is to crash into things. Doing so sees your damage cost score climb, and if you’ve caused enough damage with your initial collision then you’re subsequently able to fire off your Smashbreaker. This powerful explosion that throws your vehicle into the air, allowing you to steer the thrown wreck in an effort to crash into more things and earn more points. You can keep stacking these Smashbreakers if you pick up the icons, with bonus cash also available if you fling your car in the right direction until eventually it all comes to a stop. The concept hasn’t aged a day since it first appeared in Burnout 2 and this is the best-looking rendition of the idea we’ve seen.
Each crash zone now also has an additional objective, most of which involve taking out a number of certain vehicles on your way to the zone, which is worth a good chunk of cash to start you off towards the leaderboard. Generally speaking the bigger the vehicle you take out, the more it’s worth, though you’ll be aiming to simply take out every single thing that looks like it might break, including road signs, barriers and water butts.
It’s a shame that the presentation is a little basic, and given the excesses of the game itself, it feels a little too staid – workmanlike even – when what you’re wanting is some of the pizzazz of the Burnout series. That’s not necessarily a cry for DJ Atomika to make a comeback, but something just falls a little flat. The main body of the game looks the part though, with shades of Burnout 2 glossed up to an Unreal Engine-powered sheen, while the audio is specifically limited, presumably since you’re supposed to be concentrating on the task at hand.
As a score attack game there’s tons of replayability. There’s Bronze, Silver, Gold and Platinum medals to be awarded, but it’s the online leaderboards where you’ll be marvelling at the luck or skill that resulted in the millions of dollars of damage. Given the type of game, it’s fantastic to see a retry option that’s snappy and puts you straight back into the action, though the more drawn out run-ups to some of the zones can become frustrating if you’re having trouble with a particular setup.
Danger Zone 2 remains the epitome of a “one more go” game though, and there’s enough here to keep you going for hours on end, with six training scenarios and three regions for a total of twenty-three different zones, and with bonus survival set-ups on top of that. It would have been nice to see a few more areas, but for the price it’s hard to grumble.
There’s some ways to go if this is going to be the basis for Dangerous Driving – Three Field’s upcoming spiritual successor to full-fat Burnout – not least of which is the cars handling. While it’s functional enough prior to ploughing into a cavalcade of other vehicles, it’s just a touch too twitchy. I realise that they’re probably attempting to truly ape the sensation of the early Burnout games, but some ideas – like attempting to crash a multitude of cars into one another – have aged better than others.
That said, some of the longer run-ups or in the bonus survival rounds are pretty close to capturing Burnout’s racing legacy. When you’re chaining your boosts together and your car is flying along with face contorting ferocity, it’s fantastic. If we’re going to get a full game of that then consider me well onboard.
For fans of Ward, Sperry and Ross’ previous work, Danger Zone 2 is the closest we’ve come to a new Burnout experience in years. Crashing into things hasn’t lost any of its base appeal, and while we’re waiting for Dangerous Driving to bring things full circle, this is more than worthy of your time.
Version Tested: PS4 – also available on Xbox One