Preview: Danger Zone looks to refill a niche long lost to the end of the Burnout series
If all you ever played is Burnout 3’s crash mode, then Danger Zone is for you.
Platforms: PC (previewed), PS4
Developers: Three Fields Entertainment
Publisher: Three Fields Entertainment
There are times when a game has a mode, mod or feature that fan bases just can’t get enough of, which at some point inevitably end up getting their own game. Captain Toad’s Treasure Tracker and DayZ are some of the more prominent examples of this, and Danger Zone attempts to follow suit by taking Burnout 3’s Crash Mode and turning it into a “full” game.
I hesitate to use the term “full,” as Danger Zone doesn’t feel like it has expanded upon any of the core features that made Crash Mode as engrossing as it was. But to be fair, Danger Zone isn’t going to be priced as a full game, and never pretends to be larger than the sum of its parts. And that’s fine too, as it’s always better to execute well with a smaller scope than fall on your ass with a big one in this business.
So understanding the limitations that Danger Zone is working in, the next question is, whether or not it’s worth your time. Let’s break down what you need to know about Danger Zone.
Cathartic Crashing is what it’s all about.
Describing Danger Zone is pretty straight forward. The game is broken down into tracks, each with different forms and numbers of oncoming traffic. When the light turns green, you slam on the accelerator and strategically position yourself within the traffic to cause large and numerous chain reactions of wrecks that add up in a multiplier for big points. This multiplier is supplemented with collectible cash tokens and something called a Smashbreaker power-up that causes an explosion for added damage and the ability to let the player throw their car into a new lane of traffic.
In the early going, it can be a bit tough to anticipate where you need to hit in order to cause the most damage, and even being aware that you can move around after unleashing the Smashbreaker. The Smashbreaker is the mechanic that keeps Danger Zone from falling down the dreaded path of randomness, as it is the thing that gives the player the most control by combining momentum and timing to create an extra layer of gameplay that keeps you glued to the controller.
If anything is lacking in Danger Zone, it’s level variety.
In the early build I’ve been playing, Danger Zone appears to make its visuals an afterthought. While the design of each track presents legitimately different ways to approach crashes, it can be tough to appreciate these nuances by the fact that the levels, at least the early ones, generally look the same. The first set of levels, which were only available in the early preview build, take place in an underground bunker with visual cues that point to some virtual reality aspects.
This visual design choice in and of itself isn’t the part that’s bothersome, but there will be times when you’re on your 15th or even 20th attempt at trying to get that Gold medal run just right, where you’ll look around at your surroundings and feel a distinct sense of banality. It’s not the worst thing in the world, but it doesn’t capitalize on that psychological payoff of progression quite as well as it could due to a large reuse of assets.
The verdict so far.
At where it’s priced, there’s not much to deter you from checking out Danger Zone, provided that you understand its constraints. Apart from a few awkward drifting mechanics, Danger Zone feels at least good enough in your hands, and it’s easy to lose yourself when trying to rack up those multiplier points.
If you’re a fan of Burnout 3’s Crash Mode, Danger Zone is a nice substitute for the time being, but still doesn’t quite compensate for the lack of a full current-gen Burnout game.