Crash mode in the Burnout series is so fondly remembered because it was one part of an excellent driving game with a lot more to do in it besides that mode. But since EA seem to have about as little an interest in reviving Burnout as they do Skate, developer Three Fields (a developer made up of ex-Burnout devs) has taken a stab at it and released Danger Zone. While in some fleeting moments the magic of Crash Mode has been recaptured in the explosive, almost rhythmic gameplay, most of my short time with Danger Zone was tedious and dull. At it's worst Danger Zone feels like a free proof of concept released to backers of a Burnout spiritual successor that is being crowdfunded.
In Danger Zone, your objective is to crash a car into oncoming traffic in order to cause chaos, earn points and rack up “Smashbreakers.” Smashbreakers cause your car to explode giving it more momentum, allowing it to move around the level further and cause more damage. Scattered around the environment are cash pickups that raise your score. Now so far so good, lifting the formula from such a loved mode and releasing it for a reasonable £10. The problem, however, is that the game is utterly lifeless.
Every single level is in the same drab warehouse environment, and there is only a single car to choose from, making most levels feel practically indistinct from each other. Traffic spawns in from specific holographic walls in the level, but it’s never clear when they are going to spawn, so planning where you should be focussing is practically gone. In Burnout you could see the traffic for some time allowing you to anticipate and react, but in Danger Zone I found myself on more than one occasion sitting in the middle of a road with no traffic around me, completely lost as to what I was supposed to do.
Only having one car to drive is a huge letdown. Deciding whether to use heavy or light vehicles for certain levels was a core tenant of Burnout Crash Mode, but here every crash feels exactly the same making the game somehow tedious and incredibly short as well. The game features 20 levels that I went through in a single sitting with very little issue. There is obviously replayability for those who wish to chase high scores, but I had very little desire to back to the levels due to their drab design and lifeless aesthetics.
The game has some nice lighting and the main car is well modelled, but in a world with games like BeamNG.Drive the destruction physics leave much to be desired. The cars that make up the game's traffic are bland and often hard to distinguish from one another. This leads to issues where you’ll aim for what you think is an explosive truck only for it to be a regular truck that stops your momentum
The sound design is well done in spots. Explosions have a meaty heft to them and the screeching of tires is certainly evocative, however, levels have no music and little ambient noise so the world just feels shallow and empty. The game is just completely lacking in personality. It's extremely sterile and off putting. It feels like a proof of concept.
Danger Zone is a largely failed attempt to resurrect Crash Mode. Even with the development pedigree behind some of the best Burnout games at the helm, the lack of interesting level design, the single, extremely boring environment and a general lack of variety leave me severely disappointed. It’s somewhat fun for what is there but It’s also short, it’s empty and it’s a sad reminder that the last real Burnout game turns 10 years old in January 2018.
|+ Occasionally recaptures the brilliance of Burnout.||– Just as regularly completely misses it.|
|+ Competent lighting, sound design.||– Short.|
|– Single, drab environment.|
|– Poor damage modelling.|
|– Boring, tedious levels.|