While I usually avoid racing games, I am a huge fan of the old Burnout series on previous generation consoles. I spent days in Burnout 3: Takedown (2004) crash mode trying for the most destruction and highest score possible. Danger Zone, from developer Three Fields Entertainment LTD, is an attempt to recreate the magic of crash mode. In fact, a member of their team, Alex Ward, was formerly head of Burnout developer Criterion Software. While not anything close to the scale the Burnout series was, Danger Zone takes crash mode, and ONLY that mode, and then repackages it in a small and inexpensive form for this new generation of gamers. The goal of Danger Zone is to speed into a busy intersection to create as much destruction as possible. The player’s score is actually the amount of monetary damage they managed to create.
Players are given the ability to explode their car using a power called “Smashbreaker.” This power is granted when enough other cars have been involved in your “accident” and allows players to chain massive explosions by literally controlling their wreckage as it flies through the air. If done correctly, your flaming vehicle can be thrown into tokens that will add another Smashbreaker. Repeat the process as many times as possible to collect all the tokens and acquire the maximum amount of destruction. What would seem to be pure mayhem to most onlookers is actually a very in depth and difficult system, where timing and a little bit of luck are necessary for the big scores.
Scoring itself seems to rely more on how many vehicles are directly impacted by a Smashbreaker explosion than the other small fender benders you cause. In Burnout I felt I was rewarded for all of the little crashes, and would enjoy just watching the aftermath as cars and trucks swerved to avoid the carnage and slowly trickled more points into my total. I noticed this lack of total damage awareness after a while. For example, there is a stage in Danger Zone requiring a head-on collision with a semi-trailer to start a sequence of pileups on the other side of the road. My car hits the trailer dead on at full speed but the trailer just kept rolling on like nothing happened. I literally had to rack up enough vehicle damage to earn the Smashbreaker first, then time its use perfectly as I impacted the truck. This over reliance on the Smashbreaker was a disappointment, not only to the entertainment value, but the overall intricacy of the system in Burnout.
At first I was ecstatic to have even a portion of Burnout back in my life, but after a few hours and completing the very small amount of content, Danger Zone just left me wanting more. While I am thankful for Three Fields Entertainment’s attempt, Danger Zone just felt like a demo for a future game. I would be able to give Danger Zone higher marks if there had just been more to it.
I hope that in the future we do see a full scale release, even if it is just a game of crash mode, with more cars, environments, scenarios, and maybe multiplayer. If you are a big enough fan of this gameplay, or generally just like destruction, I would recommend you pick up Danger Zone, just be aware of how little content you get for your $12.99 USD.
Danger Zone is available now on PlayStation 4 and PC. This review is based on a PS4 copy provided for that purpose.
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