When a new game comes out from Three Fields Entertainment, you can colour us very interested. We absolutely loved Dangerous Golf and when these ex-Criterion devs put out a game that harks back to their Burnout roots, then we’re going to be all over it because, as everyone knows, Burnout was the game that all the cool kids played.
Danger Zone is them doing their crash junction thing all over again. Originally a mode in one of their Burnout titles, the objective was to drive into junctions and create total carnage. The more damage you create, the better your score and with multipliers to earn and tokens to collect, success was usually due in part to good planning, careful execution and a liberal sprinkling of luck. The result was addiction and fun in equal measure. Arguably even more fun than the actual proper driving stuff.
Criterion went on to make a game based entirely on the concept called Burnout Crash which was fantastic. With its creative setpieces, liberal dashes of humour and some very well-designed levels, the game was an absolute joy to play and only suffered in the reviews because it was a 2D affair. Don’t let that fool you, the game was straight aceness. Your iPad can play a decent version of it and it is worth seeking out (and unlike most action games, the touchscreen controls really work).
Anyway, Danger Zone is sort of a 3D version of that. Twenty or so levels await you and these all offer various layouts and score targets for you to hit. You’ll need to play each level several times to squeeze out all the points on offer and there is a degree of satisfaction to that but also a bit of a feeling of trial and error. This is all in keeping with Dangerous Golf‘s basic gameplay loop but where Dangerous Golf was a gloriously clever and funny punk rock take on golf that used some similar mechanics to this to great effect, Danger Zone is oddly dull in a way that is baffling to fans of the studio’s previous work.
The opening tutorial levels give you the basics and these are set in what appears to be a test facility. This bland layout looks like a sort of brown factory that feels pretty much like driving in a tunnel on a main road. The problem is, the look never changes and as a result the game is just so dull to look at. The explosions feel weak, the camera too fixed. Compared to your memories of basically any Burnout it lacks dynamism.
Then we have the gameplay. Yes, it works. You drive into a junction and wait for your smashbreaker to become available at which point you trigger it and the explosion sends you off in a direction. You can influence your direction a little and hopefully hit a token that gives you another smashbreaker in order to keep the damage going. Chain enough of this and you’ll earn a medal that will allow you to progress. It’s pretty good and there is an addictiveness as you chase the next level of scoring to get better medals.
But with just its limited number of levels, all of which use the same basic formula, the overall package is pretty anemic. There are plenty of names to stack up against in the leaderboards but there are no on-or-offline multiplayer modes, no bonus levels, no changes of scenery. It feels like an idea waiting for a really good game and the game you want is pretty easy to describe.
Give us this but with extra vehicle types, different levels (with a few blue skies), events to trigger (like the giant crashing plane or dinosaur from Burnout Crash) and a more interesting scoring mechanic and we’d be happy. But give us this vanilla version of that and we’re left wondering where the rest of the game is.
It’s a shame but we really cannot recommend Danger Zone at all. Stick with Dangerous Golf to see what Three Fields are capable of when they are in form and give this a miss.
+ Can be addictive
+ Figuring out levels can feel rewarding
- Oddly lacking in excitement
- Repetitive gameplay