If there is one thing Three Fields Entertainment knows well, it’s destruction. It was born from it, and have carried it into each of its projects since in a smaller, yet purer, form.
When Three Fields Entertainment distilled its gleefully destructive heritage into last year’s Dangerous Golf it worked, but perhaps not to quite the level it could have. It lacked that impactful crunch synonymous with the studio’s legacy. Danger Zone delivers that, and packages it in the most warmly familiar way possible.
That familiarity is Burnout, or more to the point, Burnout’s Crash Mode. Danger Zone is Crash Mode with a twist of Dangerous Golf dropped into the mixture. Your main objective throughout is to send your white car hurtling into traffic and cause as much financial carnage as possible before you come to a grinding halt. It is almost that simple, though thankfully not in practice, but a few gamifying features spice that gameplay loop up. For instance the ‘Smashbreaker’ is activated after causing a determined number of crashes. When you hit it, your car ignites and you’re able to tip it this way and that in slow-motion, racking up more crashes, points and collecting additional Smashbreakers to keep the chain going.On top of that,there’s bonus cash tokens lying about that can boost your score and help you aim for that elusive Platinum medal.
In Danger Zone, this is presented as a virtual simulation in a facility rather than actual highways, further funnelling the focus on what matters most. Also contributing to this is the fact you get one type of car throughout, and each stage has predetermined traffic patterns. For what is lost in scope, there is plenty gained in pure puzzle-solving. Each stage is a self-contained puzzle, with broader ways to ‘solve’ it, a more refined way to ‘beat’ it, and an optimal way to master it. Solving it is doing just enough damage to earn a bronze medal, and that usually comes from simply trying things out to see what sticks, so it can be achieved without much tactical thinking. From there, the hunt for Silver, Gold, and Platinum medals requires a clearer sense of chaining together crashes and smashes.
In truth, fans of Burnout will generally solve these puzzles pretty quickly, and unless you’re aiming to get Platinum every stage, then Danger Zone will be done and dusted in a couple of hours, but the simple joy of smashing cars together for a small price makes up for some of the brevity. The lack of variety in the content may not be forgiven quite as easily though, as Danger Zone doesn’t swerve from its central premise, not even for a bit of multiplayer. This is understandable considering Three Fields are scraping every last penny they have available to get Danger Zone made, but hopefully any success the game gets financially sees it expanded upon.
Technically speaking, Danger Zone is a good looking game. Using Unreal Engine 4 to decent effect. The effect of placing the game in a virtual simulation setting however, creates a stark sterility to anything not happening on the roads. It does help in streamlining the experience, keeping you focused on the task at hand and not the scenery, but it gets more and more noticeable the longer you play. Time also shows up the lack of variety in vehicle types found in each stage, but that’s no more than a small grievance.
What matters most of course is how your car handles. It does determine quite how much joy you get out of the game after all. There’s no nitro boosts, and the car has a fairly standard speed, so Danger Zone lacks the hi-octane thrills found further back in the legacy it was birthed from, but aside from the odd bit of twitchy handling when you clip a rogue car’s backside, the car handles solidly, utilizing the deft after steer of Dangerous Golf to give it weight and flexibility that you come to appreciate and understand as you perfect your runs.
Adding a bit of depth to the package is the online leaderboards. Not only do they track your scores against friends and other players, they also show how many attempts it took to get there. It’s satisfying to get a deliciously high score, but seeing that you got it in less tries than most of your competitors is the sweetest icing on the score cake.
There’s no denying Danger Zone is a touch on the barren side in many ways, be it visually or in terms of variety, but what it does have is a guaranteed few hours of highly entertaining destruction at a sensible price point. It’s gaming junk food, and rather tasty with it.