While Electronic Arts has been keeping its foot to the pedal with its Need For Speed franchise (especially with the just-announced Payback), there's one racing series that just doesn't get enough love lately – Burnout.
For years, that racing series was the pinnacle of fun and excitement wrapped up into driving fun, whether it was wrecking cars off the road in Burnout 3: Takedown or enjoying the open-world environment of Burnout Paradise, which is still highly enjoyable after nearly nine years on the road.
Three Fields Entertainment, comprised of a few former team members behind the series, immediately recognized that there were some fans that wanted some kind of throwback to remind them of the series, so it introduced Danger Zone, a skillful driving game that basically mimics Burnout 3's Crash Mode, where your job is to create millions of dollars of vehicular damage across a series of stages with pre-set rules and conditions.
It's a neat idea, and I know a few fans that will be more than happy to send up dozens upon dozens of vehicles (including school buses – relax, there are no kids inside) into an early demise for the sake of dollar value. But Three Fields could've easily expanded upon it more than it did. It's like getting that thrill from taking a test drive with a sweet sports car, only to find that it doesn't really perform as well after your first month of ownership.
The Fun Lasts...But For How Long?
First off, the fun with Danger Zone can only last so long. Aside from a few tutorial missions that teach you the basics about smashing things up, the game only has a handful of levels, and the locale doesn't change much at all. You're still within the dark, lifeless test facility for each one, and it's all too easy for your car to fall over the edge into some sort of grid, which renders your run automatically concluded and, even worse, leaves you with no score.
The destruction itself is well-done, and we'll get to that in a moment, but would it have killed Three Fields to include some level of variety? For instance – outside. It would've made things a lot easier in terms of seeing where cars were, instead of having to guess after a few trial runs. Plus, outside explosions would've been a lot more fun to watch than inside, because the detail would've been much, much greater.
Then there's the other thing – the limitation of the concept itself. Three Fields could've easily twisted around the rules a little bit where some form of driving was included. Yes, it's nice to have ramps to drive off of in some stages, but in others, it almost seems like "Hey, drive forward" is the best way to really get anywhere. The course design could've easily done away with the gimmickry in favor of something more straight-forward – or, at the very least, Burnout-like. Here, it's just point A to point B, and very little variation in where point B is. This game really could've used a lot more time in the oven – or the fire pit in the junkyard, if it's more appropriate.
At least the destruction angle in Danger Zone is just about right. Watching cars explode is a lot of fun, and the Smashbreaker – an ideal feature taken from Burnout 3 – enables you to not only blow up other cars around you, but control your wreckage as you fly into a number of other awaiting cars. This level of strategy remains intact, and it's probably the main thing that players will dig about this game.prevnext
There Could've Been More To This Destructive Ride
On top of that, the addition of cash power-ups and other scattered goodies – like being able to earn an automatic Smashbreaker – is cool, if only because it adds a little variety to the otherwise limited concept of destroying everything. But, again, with the darkened locale in each stage, it's so hard to see where the limitations of the stage are, and then you go falling off the edge and losing your progress.
The game looks okay in terms of its visuals, as the car models are well done and the interior design isn't bad, but I really wanted more variety in the level design. Again, I can't stress this enough – what's wrong with outside? Jeez, I sound like a concerned parent to their kid. The sound is also quite limited, with barely any music to speak of (even the average Dangerous Golf, Three Fields' previous game, offered a bit of that) and only so many car crashes to choose from. This is one of those instances where, believe it or not, we could've used more DJ Atomica (from Burnout 3).
I do like the notion that Three Fields is shying away from experimental sports titles (that's the best way I can describe Dangerous Golf) and working more on racing-style efforts, and Danger Zone isn't without its merits. But the fact that this game can't live up to Crash Mode in Burnout 3: Takedown – a game that's well over a decade old – is a bit of a shame. A mixture of levels (outside!) would've gone a lot further here, along with far less limitations on the track.
The game's still worth a look if you live for racking up millions of dollars in damage – and seeing how you compare with others on the leaderboards – but I find it perplexing that I didn't get more joy out of a game that offered wanton destruction of, well, everything. A glorious return to Burnout, this really isn't.
RATING: Three out of five stars.
Disclaimer: A review code was provided by the publisher.prev