Three Fields Entertainment’s latest release takes another crack at their take on the Burnout franchise’s popular “Crash Junction” mode. Does it avoid oncoming traffic or is it a wreck?
The studio, formed by ex-Criterion founders, has made no secret about wanting to make a spiritual take on a game in the vein of the Burnout series. Each of its titles so far, from Dangerous Golf through to last years Danger Zone, invoke elements of the chaotic classics. Danger Zone 2 hopes to inch us towards their late 2018/early 2019 track-based racer, Dangerous Driving, by improving on the previous title.
Visually the game is more interesting than the original Danger Zone, that game was mostly set in indoor VR-esque environments that ultimately ended up feeling a bit samey. This time around there is much more effective use of outdoor environments, some even take inspiration from real locations, which all helps to make it feel a lot more interesting and less sterile than the original.
For those unaware of the “Crash Junction” formula, you are given the task of causing as much damage and chaos as possible across a variety of road related scenarios. Junctions, intersections and other sections of road are all fair game as you slam into traffic to score as many points as possible; aiming for score targets to reach those elusive platinum medals.
Each challenge this time around has a Run Up Bonus, an additional task to complete as you hurtle towards the Danger Zone itself. Once there you aim to cause some carnage, after damaging a handful of vehicles you can initiate a Smashbreaker, a huge explosion, to turn even more vehicles into scrap. Whilst in the air you have some limited movement which can be useful to fine-tune the amount of damage you cause as well as allow you to collect extra Crashbreaker tokens dotted about the Zone.
The outdoor environs and the run up sections definitely help it feel more like its inspiration, and whilst it doesn’t quite have the same feel as the Burnout games, it does control well in its own right. The physics however feel a little inconsistent, sometimes a slight bump into the back of a vehicle will send it hurtling forward careening into everything on the road and at others they’ll barely move.
Physics quirks aside it all feels very solid, with enough visual flourish for it to feel good in the moment. Driving, crashing and exploding all feel satisfying making working towards those medals an enjoyable experience. Which is fortunate as you’ll be replaying each challenge a lot to get platinum medals.
The main issue with the game is one of content, there are an assortment of challenges spread across three regions but you’ll have access to them all and have seen everything in the game within a couple of hours. Working to get those platinum medals will obviously add time to that but it feels light, like it should be a separate mode in fact. Given the game’s origin and inspiration that’s not surprising but even at the games lower price point it feels a bit stingy.
Also compared to the in-game visuals, the menus and other presentation elements are surprisingly bare bones, arguably having less character and design than the original Danger Zone did. A small thing in the big scheme of things but plain text menus with no transitions or style in an extremely standard looking font looks amateurish at best.
Danger Zone 2 is a lot of fun and it’s easy to recommend to anyone wanting an engaging score attack style game or that just wants to get a taste of classic Burnout gameplay. It makes great strides in both feel and visuals compared to the first Danger Zone that I’m extremely eager to see what Three Fields Entertainment pull off in Dangerous Driving.
Danger Zone 2 (Reviewed on Xbox One)
This game is good, with a few negatives.
A great improvement over the original that almost nails the aesthetic and feel of the games it lovingly recreates even if it is a little rough around the edges. For those yearning for Burnout’s Crash mode or that just enjoy score attack games there is a lot to enjoy here!