A spiritual successor to Burnout 3? Ta ke our money. TAKE IT !
In case you’ve missed the rather awesome news, Dangerous Driving is a new Burnout in all but name, made by a small team of breakaway Criterion developers which still believes in smashing up cars, drifting around long corners and playing chicken with oncoming traffic.
From the responsive car handling to the star ratings that pop up for good drifts or catching big air, almost everything’s in place so you can get straight back into this arcade style of driving gameplay. And unlike Burnout Paradise, which recently got an HD remaster, this isn’t open world. It’s Burnout 3- era ‘ribbon road’ racing, and a wonderfully pure experience.
You spend your time weaving through civilian traffic at ridiculous speeds, ramming rival racers off the road and earning boost by – you guessed it – driving dangerously. There are eight different event types, from regular races, ‘Shakedown’ time trials and three-race championships, to face-offs with rivals to win their cars, and even police pursuits. Then there’s surely everyone’s personal favourite: ‘Road Rage’, which sees you trying to take down as many opponents as you can within a set time limit. And if you do crash, there’s even a slow-motion button to allow for ‘aftertouch takedowns’, where you guide your own wrecked vehicle into the path of approaching rivals, filling your boost bar ready for the restart. Amazing scenes.
The collision system is mercifully forgiving when it comes to hitting the trackside walls, only registering an actual crash if you collide with the scenery at a sharp angle, otherwise letting you scrape along at high speed with sparks flying from your car. All this was honed to a fine sheen 15 years ago, and nothing fundamental has been changed.
While oncoming traffic flashes its lights well in advance to alert you to its presence, it’s less easy to see where the track itself goes next. That’s particularly true when trackside chevrons warning of tight corners are pointing the wrong way from the direction you’re coming from. But the game wants you to have fun and focus on aggression rather than self-preservation, so it’s only a minor issue. The tiered career structure starts you off comparatively slowly, building up to some wonderful early ’90s F1 lookalikes which move like greased lightning.
If you’re a veteran Burnout player, you’ll breeze through most of the game, only really being challenged by the last couple of tiers in the career mode, and even then only if you’re trying to score gold medals on each event. There are platinum medals to be won, too, which means there is plenty to do until you’ve aced all the tiers in the game.
However, it doesn’t quite have the gloss that permeated the big-budget Burnout games. Firstly, the crash damage isn’t as satisfying as it could
be, not even reaching Burnout 3’ s fidelity of deformation. Even on two-generations-old hardware, that game’s crashes still have a greater sense of weight, more prominent shattering glass and debris, and more cinematic takedowns.
Secondly, there are some minor technical issues, with occasional super-speed AI bugs, momentary freezes in tunnels (presumably due to graphic streaming), dead stops without crashes registering and respawns sometimes putting you straight into another crash. The takedown cutaways can also return you to the action significantly further behind the leader than you were when you performed the takedown.
But mainly, even when suitable music is blaring out, there’s just a nagging feeling that something else is missing. DJ Stryker is sorely missed, that’s for sure, but it’s not that. A multiplayer mode would also have been nice at launch, and even though it should be coming in an update later, it’s still not too much of an issue considering this kind of game works so well as a turn-taker. There’s also very little in the way of decals on the cars, which makes everything look a bit drab. You still get arcade-style iconography like windmills and the Aurora Borealis that make for ‘ooooh’ moments of eye-candy, but it is nonetheless an understated game that could do with a splash more colour and brazen artistic flair.
But what it really needs? Buildings. This game is absolutely full of sky. There’s no city driving, so there’s nothing like the density of environmental objects seen in the downtown stage of Burnout 3. The reasons are understandable, given the team size and budget, but Dangerous Driving is so close to the full experience, you can’t help but wish this was a big-budget production.
The boxed version does contain a copy of Danger Zone 2, which makes up for the lack of a dedicated Crash mode here, so this package really is the culmination of the past few years’ work for the team, and as close to classic-style Burnout as you can get on Xbox One. So accept its limitations, blast some Funeral For A Friend and crash ’em like it’s 2004.
“The game wants you to have fun and focus on aggression”
right Driving like you have a death wish will fill up your boost gauge.
Left Even the UI is evocative of Burnout 3. Honestly, it’s a dead ringer.