Coming barely a year after the original, Three Fields are up against it to improve on the first games’ flaws. The result is a bit of a mixed bag, with much better level and visual design throughout, but a reduction in the overall amount of content and some odd technical issues that mar the experience. From the off, Danger Zone 2 is a much more visually appealing game. Gone are the dull, repetitive test chambers; in their place wide open, long stretches of road inspired by real life locations such as the UK and US roadways feature.
For the most part, these are packed with traffic for you to dodge or check out of the way, with the trademark pile up coming at the end of the course. It’s blue skies, pristine cars and a tremendous sense of speed all the way here. Throughout the short runtime however, this isn’t really mixed up at all. Tracks don’t have their own visual signatures to set them apart, leading to them feeling very familiar if played in short succession. And while the foreground detail is good, there’s rarely anything of note to the background detail, leaving a feeling of emptiness to the world.
Of course, when you are flying at 170mph round a hairpin bend, you could argue that you wouldn’t notice it much anyway. It’s just a shame it’s looking a bit barren, almost having an early access appearance to the whole thing. And whoever decided to use white text for the menus… against the bright backgrounds it can be very hard to see what anything says, though again to be fair, there is not normally much to see. Once again, no multiplayer mode is on offer, with just a short, single player affair being the order of business here.
Thankfully, the design of the courses and challenges goes someway to make up for any other modes. The scale has really ramped up since the first game, with the 23 challenges taking place on larger courses. While the aim is still to cause as much carnage as possible, there is now also an added run-up objective. These range from hitting specific vehicles before hitting the DANGERZONE to maintaining boost the whole way. In order to hit the Platinum on each level these are a must, and they do add to the experience, forcing you to be a bit more considered in your approach.
Jumps, drifts and traffic checking also allow you to start gaining combos before reaching the goal, giving you a bit more freedom then before in how you aim for the high score. But of course, it’s all about that pay off. Reaching the Dangerzone, pickups guide you to the best places to be and while I found them to be a bit too hand-holdy previously, here they feel a bit more free from. It still points out the optimal placement for sure, but the crash zones tend to be a bit more constrained than before, meaning that it’s not a case of following a trail as much as a suggestion of where to go.
Cars pile up quickly in these tighter spaces, scrap flying everywhere and all hell breaking loose. The physics keeps everything rolling nicely, though it feels as if your control when using the smashbreaker has been toned down a bit, the car not quite responding as quickly as before. This can prove frustrating when trying to collect the cash bonuses, only to fall short by a few feet, but overall control is kept pretty tight elsewhere. Your vehicles snap in and out of drifts, and even in the fastest boosts, the cars respond nicely, keeping you in the action.
It’s a bit of a shame that the amount of content is reduced here. What’s here does bode well for the future (according to the end credits, Dangerous Driving will be with us in the near future…now that has me intrigued) but it’s easy to blast through in 2-3 hours, and that’s with multiple tries on some levels. Seasoned players will likely smash through getting the platinum on each stage quickly, at which point there is literally nothing left to do. Upon completion of the 3 tiers of stages, a survival tier is unlocked which consists of a whopping 3 race tracks. Race is not the right word, time trial is better suited as you are just up against the clock and the leaderboard.
With not even one slight crash allowed in these, they kind of feel like a brief taster for the aforementioned Dangerous Driving, but they are pretty dull in all honesty. With not even any AI to face, aside from the general traffic, these short, minutes-long time attacks don’t really amount to much of anything. There are also a few iffy bugs I encountered in my time with the game. It crashed at least 5 times in 3 hours, booting me back to the home screen. There was also one instance on a course where I was happily ploughing through the traffic on my way to the zone, when my car came to a complete standstill.
For some reason, the traffic I had hit became the immovable object. Working my way round this, I found all the other traffic had come to a standstill, and while I could still check them, every so often I’d run into another brick wall car. This happened every time I attempted the level, meaning not only did it stop my flow, but it affected my score as I resorted to steering clear of all traffic until the end. Aside from a few wonky physics glitches here and there (sometimes glancing a barrier is fine, others it’ll send you spinning wildly off the course), the rest of the game ran fine, so here’s hoping a patch will sort this out down the line.
I had high hopes for the original game but came away underwhelmed. Danger Zone 2, however, rights some of the issues with a much better visual style and far more interesting courses. Some wonky physics, repetitive, bland background detail and a lack of things to do, lets the game down on occasion. Though, the core gameplay loop is still as fun as it’s ever been, smashing through traffic and causing carnage is a blast.
This game was tested and reviewed on Xbox One. All of the opinions and insights here are subject to that version.