Danger Zone 2 is the follow up to 2017s Danger Zone and follows the evolution of Three Fields Entertainments first few games which replicate, directly and indirectly, the crash mode from the Burnout franchise. This time the action has moved from a virtual training arena to the ‘open’ road. It retains the strict courses found in the first game but the shift in location is a welcome change and one that moves it just a little more to fully replicating a burnout crash simulator.
DZ2 is still very much a puzzle game but this time around some added elements give it a more unpredictable nature. You drive a course trying not to crash until you get to the Danger Zone. Once inside its all about that big crash, colliding with other vehicles and collecting coins to bump up your score. Movement after the crash is performed using a smash breaker, hitting the corresponding button to explode your car and manoeuvre around. Runs are then graded based upon your score. This simple, quick loop combined with a leader board will keep you score chasing, hitting that replay button and losing 30 minutes to a course just to perfect it.
The puzzle comes in trying to move around in the Danger Zone causing as much carnage as possible, hitting smash breakers at their most devastating but also getting the coins in the correct order for a bonus. This is what has me replaying a course over and over. If I miss a bronze coin first I’ll replay and I know I can reach it if I hit the traffic in a different way or use my smash breaker more efficiently.
Along with the setting the rest of the game takes a more realistic approach. The smash breaker and the crash mechanics are a little more ground, well as much as a high speed crash and exploding a car multiple times whilst keeping it fun can be. You don’t ping around the danger zone as much as in the original. When hitting a smash breaker you’re not blasting up into the air doing 10 flips then crashing down onto cars. You’ll explode and lift perhaps 10 feet up then manoeuvre the vehicle towards a coin or another smash breaker for a second chance to move. This limited movement makes your approach to the danger zone as much a part of the puzzle as the smash breakers. Setting an angle for that perfect crunch or landing on a coin fills you with the satisfaction of knowing you’ll only be manoeuvring a matter of 10s of metres rather than trying to move 100s (and failing) .
Driving is also more realistic. It in itself needs precision and feels tighter to allow that. Light taps and holds of the analogue stick will result in much more control than slamming it from side to side. It can be very easy to over steer out of a corner and slam into the barriers or fly off of a bridge out of the course. Even catching the corner of a larger vehicle will cause a crash and if your not in the danger zone your done, start again. At times I thought a full steering wheel set up wouldn’t be out of place. Whilst it’s not full simulation racing it’s a definite improvement from Danger Zone.
A big change this time is the inclusion of the run up. A stretch of road leading to the Danger Zone on which you’ll have an objective. This could be crash 15 cars, which you’ll have to hit from behind and direct into oncoming traffic, or chain a speed boost, some of the faster cars have a boost. Whilst these do repeat across the game they’re played out over different tracks with varying levels of traffic to engage with or miss entirely. Achieving the objective will give another bonus adding into the final score. This change may be the reason the initial pass through of a course, found in 2017s Danger Zone has been excluded. This initial look allowed a quick sense of planning before driving. The run up now feels like a second puzzle, something to solve to boost the score and to give the best approach to the Danger Zone. This makes it harder to one shot a perfect run but allows for exploration and experimentation to achieve your best possible run.
On each course you’ll drive a different vehicle. From cars to trucks to F1 cars. These are rotated frequently and all provide a different objective in the run up. Lighter cars or the big rig might want those crashes or the F1 car to race to the Danger Zone in a certain time. Whilst the vehicles chosen are set for each tailor made course the difference in frequency does well at breaking up what could become a little monotonous. My favourite course was Semi Automatic with its well placed jumps and Jack knifing semi’s. This gave a real sense that you were driving in an action movie. It was immediately followed by the course which frustrated me the most, Dangerous Behaviour. Trying to slot a fast car between two close coaches is a skill, a skill I’m not very good at. Overall I didn’t feel frustrated with the course which I think is the mark of a great puzzle game, challenge without the frustration.
Danger Zone 2 feels slightly lighter on courses than its predecessor. A reduction in course isn’t a bad thing. I think the longevity for the game comes from replaying courses and perfecting them rather than a higher number to plough through. With less courses however DZ2 has an added bonus, a survival mode. Drive a course in a set time trying not to crash. Don’t worry about causing mayhem and carnage just drive well along a busy highway. As with the main puzzle courses there’s a leader board and you’ll be chasing that high score for a while trying to perfect a run through. You have to have completed all the scenarios to unlock this mode but survival is where you’ll hone your driving skill.
A small issue I have is with the smaller vehicles and the camera. For me it sits a little too low. I’d like it to be slightly higher and to give a wider view of what’s ahead. This is true especially at high speed when I was so low to the ground I found myself almost, almost trying to look up and over the car. It’s placed well on the larger vehicles and I can understand that this goes along with that realism. I’d be low in a car so low the camera is just that. It just doesn’t translate as well for me.
The UI is a big improvement. It’s clearly going for a much more minimal approach which sits with me better than the faux computerised UI found in Danger Zone. Scores, names, times and the course titles however are a little hard to see on the main menu and I would have liked them to be bigger. The focus on the main menu looks more on cars driving down a highway rather than what you’re there to see, scores and names of those you need to beat. Whilst driving and crashing though everything is a little larger, it’s clear and easy to caste your eye away from the car to look at the score.
Danger zone 2 definitely makes improvements on the first game and provides a frantic, explosive set of puzzles to complete without asking too much of you. It’s super fun and I got lost in chasing scores for hours in an evening. If I had a friend sat with me I think it would be easy for them to pick up an understanding of what you’re meant to do and would be a great coach multiplayer game. Swapping the control pad to best the last score over these course could easily consume a night.
I’ve been playing every night now for almost a week and currently I show no signs of putting it down. It’s got me hooked and chasing those top spots. After a run I’ll assess how I played a course then jump straight back in for a better line or bigger smash breaker.
The game closes on a ‘We’ll be back with Dangerous Driving’ and I can’t wait to see what they do with this formula next.
Should you play it? Yes
Why? Danger Zone 2 is a must play for people who like the Three Fields formula or love the crash mechanics of the Burnout series. It’s also for those who enjoy puzzle games and adds an explosive twist. For those who want to chase high scores, challenge themselves, or best their friends, and do so at speed this is almost a perfect experience.
But… It should perhaps be played in small sittings. Whilst you can quickly get into the ‘zone’ you can soon lose it and then your just chasing yourself rather than the score or leader board.
Reviewed on PlayStation 4. Review code supplied by Three Fields Entertainment