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Tuesday August 22, 2017
Review: Danger Zone
by James Swinbanks | Jun 6, 2017 | Comment Now
Review: Danger Zone
Rating
5 / 10

"At an asking price of less than $20 on both Steam and PS4, Danger Zone is a neat bit of a fun for a few hours."

* Price at time of review
There is something inherently satisfying about smashing things...

There is something inherently satisfying about smashing things. One of my many childish indulgences was ramming my collection of matchbox cars into whatever I could find, as hard as I could. Both my parents and my car collection hated it. But me? I was in heaven. Every crash would happen in slow motion in my mind, and I would pore over the remnants of whatever elaborate structure I’d built for the sole purpose of crashing my miniatures through.

Burnout 3’s ‘Crash mode’ let me live this destruction in all its metal-bending wonder, letting me experience what it might be like to virtually launch, full bore, into a crowded intersection. But that was a good decade ago at this point, putting Three Fields Interactive’s latest game, Danger Zone - essentially a new Crash mode - in a precarious position. Sure, it’s an almost mirror-perfect rendition of what you remember at heart, but it feels… empty. Whilst it’s still good fun to watch cars and buses careen into the kind of 60-car pile up you see on the news for a little while, Danger Zone feels like a missed opportunity to take the experience up a notch.

Danger Zone takes place within a huge, grey simulation lab - this looks about as drab as it sounds - where each intersection, or test, loads in like a scene from Tron. The aim is to cause as much damage to the oncoming traffic as possible, with each wreck you cause adding more dosh to the final total. The higher the total, the better the medal you unlock and the higher up the leaderboard you go.

Smashbreakers, familiar to anyone who’s played either Burnout 3: Takedown or TFI’s other destructive puzzle game Dangerous Golf, act as a multiplier by letting you blow up your car, throwing anything near you away like a rag and giving you a small amount of control over which direction your car tumbles in. They can be chained together to create massive combos, and quickly become the cornerstone on which progression relies.

Most of the puzzles are designed in a way that requires you to earn multiple smashbreakers to cause enough damage to advance through, and when you happen to pull it off, the resulting destruction can seem almost operatic. The camera will swoop from car to car if the carnage is continuing around you, but only after your car’s long stopped, giving you a too often short-lived but spectacular view.

It’s at this moment when Danger Zone is at its most satisfying, but it’s far too transient to carry any sustained impact. With no replay mode to speak of, there’s no way to relive your best moments but for the few times the camera happens to catch the tail-end of the action.

Perhaps the most disappointing thing about Danger Zone is its visuals. You’re effectively crashing cars inside a giant, grey box, which could be forgiven if the crash damage were more spectacular. Watching literally tonnes of wrecked metal go flying can be a treat, but long gone is the twisting, crumpling metal frame of each car. Cars and other vehicles dent instead of crush, leaving everything missing just that little extra bit of viciousness that you want from a crash simulator.

At an asking price of less than $20 on both Steam and PS4, Danger Zone is a neat bit of a fun for a few hours. Despite its many shortcomings - no replay mode, short campaign and disappointing visuals - Danger Zone manages to tap the inherent satisfaction that comes from wrecking things. If you could still buy Burnout 3 in some respectable and playable form, I’d tell you to buy that instead. But given that’s nigh on impossible, Danger Zone is the passable alternative. 

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See more about:  burnout, crash damage, danger zone, review

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