The folks at Three Fields Entertainment have a reputation that precedes them. Known for their work on the Burnout series in the past, this studio has been primed to make their own racing game since they first emerged into the spotlight. With the original Danger Zone, we got our first taste of their signature crash mode style.
It was a strong first effort, but it had room for improvement. Now that Danger Zone 2 is here, have these talented developers found that secret ingredient that makes for the perfect crash, or is this second attempt a gruesome pileup? Let’s find out!
Where Crashing and Burning is Encouraged
While I did have a good time with the original, there’s no need to go back and play the first game in this series. Danger Zone immediately improves upon its predecessor in a number of ways that make this the one to choose.
One of the biggest gripes I had with the original was a lack of variety in the environments. You were constantly underground in crash test courses that all seemed staged. This isn’t the case with Danger Zone 2. From the beginning, you’re thrust into the wide open world with bright sun and blue skies.
Furthermore, you’ll notice a lot more traffic this time around, and vehicles that behave more like actual drivers. This is due to the developers pulling inspiration from real-world crash spots, which injects a lot more life into the concept than the original’s test tracks.
The game’s tutorial also introduces us to a variety of mechanics, some new and some returning.
For new players to the series, the objective in each level is simple: cause the biggest crash possible. While the premise may be simple, Danger Zone 2 is going to make you work for that gold or platinum medal.
In each level, you’ll start out going at a solid speed as control is placed into your hands. A counter in the top left corner of the screen shows you how much distance remains before you’re in the “Danger Zone” which is where you need to cause your crash.
The distance between you and the zone varies from level-to-level, but this space isn’t meant to give you a chance to breathe. Instead, you’re given a Run-Up Objective to complete before you hit the main area. This objective ranges from crashing into specific vehicles, or triggering a boost chain, which involves holding down your boost button until the meter drains multiple times.
Completing this objective prior to your crash provides a nice bonus to your final score. In addition, you can find three tokens in the environment both before and within the Danger Zone. These also add bonuses to your score, and grabbing all three earns you a Grand Slam bonus.
Finally, there’s the Crashbreaker. This is a concept that makes the crashes look like what Michael Bay would do with an unlimited budget. After achieving a certain number of collisions, you can effectively trigger a massive explosion from your vehicle.
This strategic advantage can really turn up the carnage in any given crash. Say you just went sailing from a ramp and landed in a busy highway. Cars start slamming into you, swerving out of the way, and otherwise slamming their brakes. Now’s your chance.
You hit the Crashbreaker and the screen fills with fire. Suddenly, all those cars are blown backward, end over end, and you’re thrown into the air. While in the air, you can use the left stick to maneuver your flying wreckage into the next set of lanes over the guardrail. Suddenly you’ve got a new chain reaction started, and with Crashbreaker tokens littered on the map, you can grab another and trigger a second or third explosion.
When I first started playing Danger Zone 2, I felt like the Run-Up Objective was almost mandatory to get a high score, but that opinion changed the more I played. Earning this bonus certainly helps, and it can be a game changer, but with the right combination of strategy and a dash of luck, you can still get massive scores without completing this objective.
That was a relief for me, as these objectives can be quite frustrating with the game’s finicky fail states. When you’re making a beeline to the Danger Zone, any premature crash results in an immediate game over.
This is fine, in theory, but since many of the Run-Up Objectives require you to collide with other vehicles, I had a lot of cases where I would slam into a target vehicle and cause a crash sometimes, but not others. Guardrails are also like papier-mâché in the sense that they will break apart like tissue paper when you hit them, and that’s a crash if you fall off.
My frustration would peak on levels when you’re tasked with running down your boost meter several times in succession. In these levels, the slightest tap with another vehicle at that speed would cause and instant fail.
This issue could have been remedied with a hard stance one way or the other. Either let us hit cars during the lead-up to the Danger Zone or don’t. The concept of hitting some, but not others, or only hitting them from certain angles is just too confusing when you’re going 100+ miles-per-hour.
Despite these complaints, the majority of my time with Danger Zone 2 was spent with a maniacal grin on my face. It’s most certainly an improvement on the original and a lot of fun. I wish the crashes would last a little longer, as I felt like I never got the full scale of my destruction before the counter finished.
Burnout had a cool helicopter fly-by that would show an aerial glimpse of the level after you finished. An option for this kind of aftermath perspective would really help drive home the satisfaction from your calculated crash.
Bright and Sharp Presentation
The visuals in Danger Zone 2 are a nice step up from the original, with plenty of visual variety in the environments this time around. By using real-world crash hotspots, everything feels a lot more organic and realistic this time around.
This is a nice change of pace from the crash test tracks of the first game. The frame rate was also buttery smooth on PS4 Pro with zero crashes or stability issues. While there are still a few things I would like changed or added, Danger Zone 2 is an absolute improvement on the original.
I am very excited to see what comes next for the series. In the meantime, fans of the classic crash mode or those who just want to watch the world burn shouldn’t let this opportunity pass them by.
Final Score: 8.0/10
A copy of Danger Zone 2 was provided to PS4 Experts for review purposes
Article by - Bradley Ramsey
Insert date - 8/21/18