Danger Zone Review
Gonna take you right into the Danger Zone
If there was ever a game I have fond memories of, it’s that of the Burnout series. Specifically that of the Crash Mode where you would be given roads and intersections for you to create the most destruction from smashing into other vehicles. But what made this the most fun, was the inclusion of a feature called ‘Smashbreaker’ which allowed you to initially build it up by wrecking a required amount of vehicles and then unleashing all fury with an explosion from your car, allowing you to manoeuvre about mid-destruction in order to wreck even more vehicles. Unfortunately, the series took a turn and got rid of that mode entirely. Some may say it still existed under a different guise, but it was just not the same.
However, some of the original developers of the series parted ways and decided to set up their own studio, Three Fields Entertainment; albeit a very small team. Their aim: To develop fun and engaging games and it’s clear that they’ve taken great inspiration from their previous work. Just look at Dangerous Golf. Three Fields Entertainment released this title last year on Xbox One which saw you smashing golf balls around various locations and raking in scores; very much like Burnout’s crash mode, only with golf balls – and it was loaded with content too. You could complete the campaign either alone or with a local friend, which actually changed up the way you accrue the scores.
Now, they’re bringing us Danger Zone – which we initially assumed was coming to Xbox One earlier this year, but then to my dismay, they announced it would not actually get a release on Xbox One. Sad face. Lo and behold, several months down the line, they announced that it would be releasing on Xbox One after all. And here we are now, being able to get our grubby little mitts on a press copy to let you know what we think of
the new crash mode Danger Zone.
Whilst we were half-expecting the song of the same name to play over the title screen, the other half knew our hopes were high as the royalties towards it are most likely astronomical, but it would’ve been extremely fitting for the game, nevertheless. The game gives you the option to learn the ropes of the game with a short tutorial level but for fans of the aforementioned Burnout series, it’s not really necessary as the premise is exactly the same: Crash your car into moving vehicles on various roads and intersections to gain the highest score. And a title like this wouldn’t be as entertaining without medals to work for and a leaderboard to compete in, which this has thankfully.
There are four tiers to compete in, each with eight challenges for you to undergo. All of the challenges with bronze, silver, gold and platinum medals to achieve. Whilst some levels can have you retrying a hundred times just to reach that bronze goal, the next level may only take you one attempt and still hit gold, so increasing difficulty isn’t really a thing here. As what is difficult, is achieving all the medals scattered about each level, however they weren’t always needed to achieve gold or even platinum in some instances. So with a total of 32 challenges, makes it an incredibly much smaller title than Dangerous Golf, which was littered with replayability and various modes. This unfortunately, only has the one mode. Not even local co-op, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing, as those fond memories of the Burnout series were primarily of passing the controller between friends, seeing who could reach that top medal. And this is what this title exceeds at: local couch co-op, without an actual co-op mode. It’s these types of games that you improvise your multiplayer options, especially since retrying attempts takes a matter of seconds during the loading screen.
However, even though there are only 32 different challenges, it’s the structure of these levels that’s interesting and brings in the replayability. For example, one of the challenges during the first tier had you driving an uphill road, collecting a couple of bronze medals along the way, where you would then approach a ramp for you to fly right into the passing vehicles on a huge road. Struggling to even think that achieving a bronze was impossible, it wasn’t until several attempts later that we discovered there was a hidden intersection below with more cars passing by. It’s at this point, you realise that this has evolved so much more from Burnout and is now a well-thought out challenge, with multiple ways to approach a situation. Not to mention the placement of the medals and the smashbreakers (did we mention this title has the famous smashbreaker??) that requires you to plan your exact movement ahead of the action. But this all uncovers after many attempts when you realise where all the medals and smashbreakers are. The game does show you a ‘flyby’ of each level before you start, that it felt like it took too long and took us out of the immersion of the game. We found it more enjoyable to use the ‘trial and error’ approach. And it worked.
Whilst the action takes place under the guise of a ‘simulation’, there’s not much to look at seeing as you’ll be concentrating on your car for the most part. But it needs to be noted that when the Xbox One X launches in November, expect to play this title in native 4k. Danger Zone has much more polished physics than that of Dangerous Golf – as that title left me with frustrations more often than not, this title remained fun throughout. On the odd occasion we tried out different approaches to challenges, we did notice some glitches – and they weren’t one-off glitches either, it was almost as if the coding wasn’t right for what we did. I’ll explain: One of the challenges had you driving head on towards incoming vehicles with bronze medals down that lane, but the other lane had silver medals and smashbreakers to pick up. The issue: there was a small gap between the two roads and you are driving a formula one car. We decided we could get a higher score by crossing the gap first before we smashed into the oncoming vehicles on the lane we started in; where the game-design leads you, but the problem wasn’t reaching the gap, it was what actually happened when we landed. The car was half way under the road and a certain point the car would flip on its side, causing you to fall to your demise and end your simulation. We tried the same exact way several times and this happened the exact same way and same time each time. Granted, we were adamant. And we did reach a gold medal this way at least…right before we noticed another sneaky parking lot full of vehicles below.
It’s these kind of bugs we enjoy in games like these: we took it as an added challenge. We will not be beaten. And we wasn’t. Although that was the biggest bug we found, the rest of the game is thoroughly enjoyable and brings back plenty of nostalgia from the crash mode in Burnout. I know we’ve mentioned that title a few times, but I’m pretty sure that this is what the developers were aiming for when they brainstormed the game. Here’s hoping to a sequel with more modes, especially co-op, and maybe include a city of sorts next time rather than a simulation? But again, we’re bearing in mind that this is a small team, so plenty of kudos to the developers for sparking that fun factor once more.
Danger Zone is available to download from the Xbox Store, priced at an affordable £11.99.
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About: Stephen Loftus
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