With Danger Zone, Three Fields Entertainment - a group of ex-Criterion developers seeking to rekindle the arcade racer genre - tried to recapture the chaos and excitement of Burnout’s Crash mode. Their attempt may have been flawed, but the team’s ambition to bring high-octane mayhem back to a dwindling sub-genre of racing games was admirable. Dangerous Driving seeks to continue this desire by expanding the scope to match that of Burnout 3: Takedown.
In its mission statement, Dangerous Driving can absolutely be considered a success. The UI alone tells you just how much of a spiritual successor to Criterion’s ludicrously fast racing series this is. You drive incredibly fast, smash your competitors off the road, and build a boost meter by driving recklessly. As long as you can look past the small budget governing the weak visuals and myriad technical issues, there’s a solid and exciting racing experience here.
Dangerous Driving nails its sense of speed. Maxing out the speedometer is thrilling and intense, whilst watching the world blurrily whizz past you is as satisfying as ever. As I was racing through a desert stage, there was a moment that almost felt like I was playing Mad Max, speeding through arid sands violently clashing with other cars. However, that illusion doesn’t last, bogged down by dodgy physics, lackluster takedown visuals, and underwhelming sound design. You're quickly reminded that you’re playing a restricted imitation of a fantastic concept.
The progression is pretty barebones. Each type of car comes with its own series of events. There are only a handful of modes, like the traditional race, the takedown-focused, and the endurance-style GP race. Meanwhile, each car category divides into the exact same four models: standard, tuned, advanced, and prototype. There’s no clear distinction between these models aside from some scrolling stats at the bottom of the screen. Naturally, each successive unlock is an improvement, but the game could use clearer visual indication as to why.
The small assortment of modes wouldn’t be a problem if they were all consistently entertaining, but unfortunately, they’re not. The Pursuit mode is an especially poor inclusion. This Need for Speed-inspired feature puts you in the role of a cop car chasing down criminals. And by bringing the law down on felons, I mean gradually grinding down cheap-looking health bars from your opponents. This mode is neither satisfying nor exciting. The weak and arcadey little sound that plays when you chip away a bar of health makes it impossible for the experience to feel impressive or impactful. Instead of adding anything meaningful to Dangerous Driving, Pursuit feels like tired imitation.
Medals ranging from bronze to platinum grade the events, encouraging a competitive degree of replayability. It’s fun to challenge yourself to acquire the high scores or compete on the global leaderboard (which isn’t available on PC at this time). Nailing the gold or platinum medals requires an intense combination of concentration and skill, even with the easily-wrecked AI. The only problem is that the lack of variety - in both modes and stages - make it more tiresome than it’s worth to repeat events multiple times.
Like Danger Zone and its sequel, Dangerous Driving has no background music. Instead, you can link your Spotify account and play your own tunes, so long as you have Spotify Premium. If you can’t decide what to listen to while you break speed limits and cause endless havoc, don't worry. The developers have put together their own playlist. Presumably, this intends to stand-in for the game’s absent soundtrack. Naturally, the game feels pretty lifeless without music. The sound of dull engines fails to match the sheer sense of speed on display. They’re accompanied only by the uninspiring screeching of tires and weak car horns. If you’re going to jump into Dangerous Driving, bring your own playlist.
On a PS4 Pro, the performance can be pretty inconsistent, with a frame rate that can get disruptively spotty. Pair this with the game’s iffy physics that launch cars at the slightest nudge, the erratic AI that switches lanes in an extremely robotic fashion, and the weak visuals that'll leave you wanting and you’re left with a technically clumsy experience. Although Dangerous Driving looks alright in motion - as the world flies by in a blur - it looks very dated when you’re stationary, especially at the very beginning of an event. The takedown cinematics also looks pretty underwhelming, presenting you with awkward-looking crashes and wonky physics.
Ultimately, Dangerous Driving presents an exciting (albeit brief) arcade racer that’s sure to scratch that very specific Burnout itch. Although the modest budget often makes the game feel restrained and technically limited, there are almost a dozen hours of fun to had with its solid core. With their third driving game, Three Fields Entertainment has come closer than ever to capturing the exhilaration and bliss of the series that put them on the map in the first place. Here’s hoping they’ll get a bigger budget to work with next time.
TechRaptor reviewed Dangerous Driving on PlayStation 4 with a copy provided by the publisher. It’s also available on Xbox One and PC via the Epic Store.
- Fast and Exciting Arcade Racing
- Almost Feels Like A New Burnout Game
- Floaty And Unsatisfying Physics
- Subpar Visuals
- Technical Issues