Continuing on with Three Fields Entertainment’s resurrection of the classic Burnout formula, Dangerous Driving eschews the crash mode focus of previous titles; focusing instead on the, well, driving aspect. It’s easily their best effort yet, though not without its flaws. This is arcade racing at its purest. There’s no in-depth stats to deal with, no racing lines or even the need to worry about braking. Just you, your car of choice and off you go. Progression is broken down into individual classes of car, each with multiple events to be competed before unlocking the next, but it’s never any more complicated than that.
There are a couple of variants that can be unlocked, each tuned to a specific event type, but unless you are going for the super hard Platinum medal, the default vehicle will get you through no problem. Not that you’ll have an easy ride. First off, the sheer sense of speed on show here is amazing. Even on the slower classes, things move at a rapid pace. You’ll whiz past the ambient AI cars in an instant, while battling with fellow AI racers at high speed gets the adrenaline going for sure. Fighting and taking down other racers fills up and extends your boost meter; chain together a few takedowns and you’ll have boost for days.
While it’s a simple system – you literally just smash your car into theirs – it’s effective and great fun, adding a nice twist on simply racing to the finish line. It shows in the fact that the Takedown events – in which you must smash as many racers off the road as possible within a time limit – is the one I enjoyed the most. There’s always a good supply of victims ready to smash to smithereens and revel in the glorious takedown camera, their mangled chassis splintering into pieces as you sail on by. These also tend to be fairly short, lasting only a couple of minutes. Other more traditional races can feel a little long for my liking, with just a single lap in the multi-lap races often taking upwards of 3-4 minutes.
When it can all come crashing down, literally, at the last moment I found the thought of restarting a 10+minute race again a little off putting. At this speed, and with the amount of focus you need to avoid dawdling cars on the road, it can be a little draining. Not every event needs to be completed to progress thankfully, just enough to unlock the GP, which will in turn unlock the next class of vehicle. Vehicle handling is spot on, for the most part. Throwing the back end out to drift impossibly around a corner is as simple as pressing the left trigger, you car sticking to the tarmac as you rack up skill points to refill your boost bar. Just nudging the stick is met with an immediate response, your car ducking and weaving through traffic and just generally making you feel like the best Hollywood stunt driver in the world.
On more than one occasion, I threaded through 2 oncoming cars, just scraping their doors before drifting full speed around a hairpin bend, exiting just to cut off an oncoming semi truck. When everything comes together, it feels really, really cool. Of course, sometimes it goes spectacularly wrong too – you’re feeling brave after a streak of near misses, only to slam straight into a passing bus that you got just a smidgen too close to. The physics of these crash are well realized, with cars splintering into chunks, parts flying off all over the place. Physics, though, won’t always be your friend. Much like the previous Danger Zone games, oftentimes you’ll find that the physics system lacks consistency. As mentioned, you’ll spend a lot of time crashing into rivals.
While most of the time a simple bump is enough to send them on their way, other times a full force whack will just see you bounce off them – usually into oncoming traffic. This can be hit and miss too. Hitting ambient traffic will crash you out, unless the game is feeling nice in which case you can sail through them without penalty. A full-on collision might see you sail through them, whereas a mere clip of a wing mirror has your car shooting off in to the sky. The lack of consistent rules can make things frustrating, especially at the end of a long race. The AI racers are never far behind you, no matter how fast you go, further compounding the annoyance when you crash seemingly from out of nowhere.
Occasionally even the road will trip you up. Dangerous Driving is generous in allowing you to bounce off walls on misjudged corners (even head-on sometimes) but if there’s a slight dip in the road then there’s a chance you may end up flipping out. And while Dangerous Driving is a prettier game than past entries, it’s still somewhat bare-bones and technically lacking. Cars will spawn right in front of you, leaving you no time to escape. When using the faster vehicles, it can be quite hard to distinguish what’s up ahead, and the camera is a touch too low for my liking, meaning your car can often obstruct you view entirely.
There is an in-car view, but I found that to be even harder to see what was going on. Load times are pretty long too, even between picking a race and your car. And while there’s a fair few events to race through, that’s your lot. With no multiplayer, or even a more fully featured career mode, once you’ve worked through the events, you’re down to aiming for better medals and topping the leaderboards. It was the same thing in previous games, but I’d hoped to see a little evolution of modes.
Three Fields are doing the gaming community a service by keeping the arcade racing genre alive when the big boys seem to have lost interest. Much like their previous entries, there’s a lot to like here – from the fast, responsive action to the sheer thrill of smashing rivals and reveling in that takedown camera. Sadly, its bare-bones approach to modes, its erratic physics, and its barely improved technical aspects, keep it from reaching the heights of its inspiration.
This game was tested and reviewed on Xbox One. All of the opinions and insights here are subject to that version.Want to keep up to date with the latest Xt reviews, Xt opinions and Xt content? Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.