Danger Zone (PS4) REVIEW – “Not Quite Kenny Loggins, But It’ll Keep You Entertained”
If you're looking for an indie title to kill an afternoon, Danger Zone may just be the answer.
Remember ‘Crash’ mode on the old Burnout games?
The premise was simple: drive your car into as much traffic as possible, and cause maximum chaos to earn money to progress. A pretty simple concept for what proved to be a fiendishly addictive game mode.
So now we’ve got Danger Zone from Three Fields Entertainment; a small studio comprising of some members from the now defunct Criterion Games (the studio responsible for Burnout). The game takes the mechanics from the aforementioned Crash and packages them in a tight little indie bundle of 20 maps and countless explosions. You’ve even got the money pickups and “Smashbreakers”.
These might sound familiar, because they’re taken directly from Crash. Pressing circle on the Playstation 4 after picking one of these up will detonate your car; causing more damage, and racketing up the points. There’s a subtle sense of steering in your wreck once you activate one of them, too, though it’s far from what I’d call accurate handling – more influence. That subtlety brought about by the Smashbreakers carries over into everything in the game, though not in the best way. Steering can sometimes feel like you’re blowing on the wheel rather than gripping it for dear life, and trying to turn more than an inch at any time is unreliable at best. This isn’t a racing game by any means, but it would have been nice to feel like I had more control over things.
Leaderboard climbing is primarily what you’ll be doing throughout your time with the game. After a three second countdown, you’ll drive the surprisingly sturdy car down a runway into a large warehouse, and notice pedestrian vehicles spawning at nearby blue gates. The aim of the game is to steer yourself into traffic in the most strategic way possible, so you can cause a pile-up and see your money climb. After the mayhem comes to an end, a brief montage of your destruction plays before adding any money bonuses and presenting you with your final score. Things begin pretty basic with a simple crossroads, but you’ll soon be flying off of ramps and barrelling across multiple lanes in order to slam into the high-earners.
And that’s…about it. You’d be forgiven for thinking this is a throwaway title for how simplistic it can get, as I initially thought something similar. However, Danger Zone was developed by only six people within the space of three months; really, it’s up to you to determine whether you’ll forgive its basic gameplay loop because of these conditions. I managed to, because at the heart of it, what you’ve got here is a really fun high-score chaser.
These high scores are, naturally, bracketed by various medals you’ll earn based on your score. I only managed to achieve a Platinum once throughout all of the twenty levels, though the leaderboards show that some people have put in upwards of 50 attempts to reach those lofty totals. Clearly, there’s an audience for unbridled mayhem – who knew?
Though I can forgive the game’s simplicity due to the context, it’s important to be aware of its shortcomings. There’s no ambient or background noise in the entire title – that means no menu music, no ‘high score’ jingle. Nothing. There’s also very little vehicle deformation outside of the kinds of things you’d see in GTA: San Andreas; that is, a skin slapped on when a car has exploded, and a lack of tyres to indicate damage. I can forgive the graphics because of the constraints put on development, but it’s strange to have absolutely no soundtrack. While this means the echo of your engine around the game’s wide spaces is front and centre, it gives everything a bit of an eerie feel; almost post-apocalyptic, which I can’t imagine was the desired effect.
Also, the fact that it’s money you’ll be earning by wreaking chaos feels slightly redundant. There’s no vehicle customisation of any kind, and the car you begin the game in is identical to the one you’ll end it. If there’d been multiple choices – each with higher purchase prices – then the need to replay for higher scores would have been amplified. As it is, this is purely for bragging rights.
In the end, I don’t know if I could recommend Danger Zone were it priced unreasonably. At only £10 in the UK, though, I can certainly see the appeal of screeching your way through the game’s varied stages. It’s not going to distract you from Overwatch for weeks on end, but it’s a great game to kill an afternoon. It’s not quite Kenny Loggins, but it’ll keep you entertained.