Now I’m just miserable.
While browsing the store for potential fodder for me to snipe under the guise of being a video game critic, I noticed a new game called Danger Zone. With Kenny Loggins playing in my brain like the homoerotic fantasy-wielding ponce that I am, I discovered that it was made by none other than Three Fields Entertainment. Who are Three Fields? Oh, just a team consisting of developers from the seminal Burnout series, and from there, the froth from my mouth kept coming.
For those who don’t know, Burnout Revenge is my favourite racing game of all time, which can be described as Mario Kart with suicidal tendencies. It was the accidental cinematic aspect of it all that drew me in, and with the Burnout series left in the dust because EA are bastards, they spread their own wings and flew into the shade of obscurity. Before today’s topic, they made Dangerous Golf, which is what you’d get if you recorded Tiger Woods during his saucy breakdown.
Here though, Three Fields have gone back to roots, and have done so with an indie flair, and I’m not sure whether or not this kind of game allows for it to be good. While it’s true Three Fields backed themselves into a corner of beautifully orchestrated carnage, there’s a time where you just have to quit what you know best because the budget won’t allow for it, and Danger Zone is proof.
There’s no story, fluff text, or any other nonsense to get it in the way. You’re under the context of a crash simulation facility and that’s it. I already have problems with this, as the cinematic aspect of Burnout crashes came from the real-world setting, with collateral damage being the beauty. Even Dangerous Golf had the aspect of being set in lavish houses being trashed by the primer/catalyst of a 9 Iron and a golf ball, so what’s the deal?
If you have played Burnout before, like you SHOULD HAVE, then you already know of the objective, which is causing the biggest explosions possible within an allotted time and set amount of cars. You get a few cash bonuses in order to add to the score and special move known as the Crashbreaker, which is another element ripped straight from Burnout.
With the game boasting 40+ simulations, I was ecstatic to revive my love for the Burnout series. I put on my Destruction playlist, which consisted of a 4 hour loop of Slipknot’s “Surfacing”, donned my cool-guy shades, and went to town on the game with a huge grin on my face. It was all for nothing, as after a while, that grin slowly disappeared and I realized that Three Fields would need the power of a thousand suns and lifetimes in order to recapture this spark.
For one, there’s something inherently cheap about the whole ordeal. While it’s true that I’m one of the 8 people who bought Dangerous Golf, it had the spark and imagination to look like you’re causing damage. That may have been due to a little trickery of perspective, but here, every single damaged car looks like the just ripped the wheels off of a Micro Machine and threw them on a carpet mat. Where’s the sparks, the flames, the little shreds of shrapnel?
For two, while it’s always been true that the Burnout Crash mode and Dangerous Golf are practically puzzle games for the impatient, Three Fields have taken that further to heart. The simulations seem to be more about precision than utter annihilation, which means most sims will be a frustrating journey of trying to thread the needle between 2 payloads. scaring them enough to crash into everything else. Paired with the loading times, which are inexcusable, this makes for a miserable journey.
If you are going to take the precise approach to puzzles, then you could at least tighten the controls. I have never seen controls that are both unresponsive, and over-sensitive. Trying to drive your car into mayhem is a flurry of anger as you attempt to not careen off the edge into a low score. Even then, it would’ve been forgiven if there wasn’t an insta-kill pit underneath the arena.
Yes, for some reason, Three Fields thought it was a great idea to place a game over a pit underneath the roads of the simulation, meaning that if your car lands in the pit, it’s game over. That’s all fine and dandy, except for two things. One, while I can control my wreckage to a safe distance, I can’t control the AI who almost always presumes that where I’m huddled is a great place to crash their car. Two? Don’t make it cancel out the score, do you know how many fucking gold medals this mechanic cost me because of a wheel bumping into my salvaged wreck?
But the worst complaint comes from just how lifeless everything is in this facility. I know that there aren’t any people in these cars, even in the original Burnout, but the urban setting of its predecessors added chaos and the implication that this 1000-car pile up would be a dent on traffic reports. Here though, there’s nothing. It’s like recreating a car crash in purgatory.
While it’s obvious an indie studio isn’t going to have the budget for licensed soundtrack, can I at least have some stock rock music for when the Slipknot loop gets stale? Where’s the commentators, where’s the meaty car crash sound effects, where’s the massive inventory of cars I can use and experiment with? The game is missing so much, and it feels more like an alpha, than a full release.
In short, Danger Zone is pathetic. Three Fields’ attempt to return to what made them known in the first place is a puny effort that makes it look more like a fan-game than anything. There’s no rigorous destruction, there’s no fitting soundtrack, there’s no bootleg Ferrari’s to blow up on a freeway, there’s nothing.
If you really, REALLY miss Burnout, then good god, man, get Burnout 3: Takedown, Revenge or Paradise. If you’ve already dominated the fake worlds of all previously mentioned, and you seriously want Danger Zone, then I urge you to wait for a sale. $15 for a 3-hour experience with nothing happening is daylight robbery.
Yeah, I said it. Danger Zone is worth less than a walking simulator.
A miserable attempt to go back to the roots, Danger Zone couldn't miss the point more, unless they were Stevie Wonder.