Is this Burnout’s revenge? Yes and no…
On paper, Danger Zone looked set to be a Burnout fan’s dream come true. In it, Burnout’s original creators would take a fresh crack at the gameplay that defined their careers – all while the actual Burnout IP collects dust on EA’s shelf. And while it does perfectly recreate the memorable Crash mode from a gameplay mechanics perspective, it omits almost all of Burnout’s summer-y, tongue-in-cheek personality, and alternate modes. The result is a bare-bones game that’s good for a few hours of fun, but lacks staying power.
Danger Zone does indeed only consist of one mode: Crash Testing, which includes 20 Crash Test Junctions. Each Junction is an intersection you launch your car into at high speed, and they have to be approached strategically to inflict maximum damage and collect as many power-ups as possible. Who should you hit first? Where should you fling your car using the mid-air Aftertouch controls after triggering your Smashbreaker explosive? All that experimentation makes it feel more like a puzzle game than a racer. Know too that you’ll fail, and fail often; the Retry button will get a workout. And though loading times aren’t too bad on PS4, they’re just not quite quick enough to be painless.
When you get a good run, medals ranging from bronze to platinum are awarded based on your score, with built-in leaderboards serving as a passive nudge to keep you playing for a higher cash total. And that’s…about it. There are no new cars to earn. Plus, there’s no summary screen to give you a big-picture look at how you’re doing across the three Test Phases that make up the campaign, there’s no soundtrack to speak of, and every junction is set inside the same drab, gray concrete virtual simulator. With no sunshine, no busy, realistic metropolitan intersections, and (I can’t believe I’m saying this) no DJ Stryker, Danger Zone just comes across as lifeless.
Furthermore, the lack of car deformation is disappointing. Sure, your ride will get scuffed, scraped, and scarred to Hell and back, but the lack of proper damage modelling – in a game purpose-built for crashing cars into other cars – is quite unfortunate. Though, to be clear, it nevertheless remains fun to smash into cars and cause giant explosive pile-ups. It’s as if Danger Zone, taken as a whole, simply reanimates Burnout’s body but can’t bring back its soul.