STAFF REVIEW of Danger Zone 2 (Xbox One)

Monday, August 27, 2018.
by Adam Dileva

Danger Zone 2 Box art I can’t believe it’s been a full decade without a new Burnout game. Burnout Paradise, while great, was missing the uber popular Crash Mode from the previous titles where I spent countless hours playing over the years. It’s been a decade and I’m craving more Burnout for its crashing excitement. While not the exact same thing, Danger Zone 2 is essentially a spiritual successor, and since EA isn’t giving us our fix of Burnout in the last decade, so it’s what we’ll have to enjoy in the meantime.

If you stripped Burnout’s Crash Mode from some of its previous games, Danger Zone 2 would essentially be the result, though not as detailed or polished. If you’ve yet to experience the wonder of Burnout and its Crash Mode, let me explain. You fundamentally hurling your vehicle down an open stretch of highway into a busy intersection, seeing how much destruction and mayhem you can cause. Oh, and your car can also blow up, sending others flying into traffic and causing more damage, and all of this is tallied in a figurative dollar amount. While there’s no story present in any way, shape or form, that’s ok in a game like this that can be fun to just cause vehicular destruction.

While the crashing itself is physics based, the physics used are certainly exaggerated, as rear ending a car, or slamming it from the side, will send it flying forward at a speed and angle that shouldn’t be possible. Your goal is to create as much chaos as possible with the traffic driving on the roads, tallying the biggest dollar score possible with every crash, flip and explosion. Most ‘tracks’ will have a stretch of highway for you to either avoid, or start your crashing early, before reaching the goal area where the major accidents are to take place.

If you sit down and play Danger Zone 2 in lengthy spurts, you’re going to notice that every level looks and feels virtually the same. Sure, some have longer road run ups, or ramps, but every highway and background looks essentially the same with very little variance between them. Some variance of backdrop would have been welcomed, or weather changes of some sort, but all 23 challenges (yes, 23) will all blend together and play nearly the same throughout.

Hit a car on the run up at just the right angle and you’ll be able to check it, launching it forward without crashing yourself. I wasn’t able to really tell if the vehicle you’re given really makes a difference for the car hitting and distance, though I found I was crashing a lot less when I was using the larger semi. Even better, flatbeds moving supercars, or trucks delivering pipes, will cause even more damage and havoc if checked, especially into oncoming traffic. Seeing cars flying into the air and smashing a ton of others will always put a smile on your face when the sparks start to fly.

With only 23 levels to play in, there’s very little content included unless you really enjoy chasing high scores and leaderboards. To get the coveted in-game Platinum medals, you’re going to need to not only cause some mass destruction in the danger zone, but also complete the run up objectives for bonus cash. These objectives range from simple ‘Hit X amount of cars’, ‘Boost combo X times’, ‘Use Slow-mo camera off every ramp’ and more. These aren’t necessary to complete levels and attain a bronze, but will be if you want to Platinum each level you'll have to complete them too.

Each level gives you a predetermined vehicle (semi, taxi, truck, F1 car, etc.) and layout. Almost like a puzzle game, you need to figure out the best path and way to cause the most damage to get those coveted Platinum medals. The issue is that once you’re plunked into a new level, you’re basically going to have to fail a few dry runs to learn the traffic patterns and bonus pickups to plot the best course of action. Doing the most damage to other vehicles is paramount, but placing yourself in range of other bonus money pickups and smashbreakers can be just as equally important.

What’s a Smashbreaker you ask? This is where you’re able to blow up your car on command, after a certain criteria of smashed cars is obtained. This will cause a massive sonic boom around you, pushing cars all around, exploding them and hopefully launching them into others, causing bigger jams and more destruction. One of the major things I noticed in the first few crashes though is that the camera is permanently fixed on your car only. So you’re causing all this destruction and chaos, but won’t see much of it, as it happens elsewhere, further away from you. Burnout was great at swooping the camera around to show you where the accidents were happening, but that’s missing here. You’ll hear a lot of crashes and screeching tires, but won’t see much of it for the most part.

When you use your Smashbreaker, you’re able to subtly maneuver and glide your car a short distance. This is paramount, as to get the other powerups and extra Smashbreaker tokens, you’ll need to make sure you’re placed somewhat nearby, as you can’t really glide that far during the slow motion sequence. There’s nothing more frustrating than being inches away from another Smashbreaker powerup (which lets the countdown timer go longer) but you're unable to get it, ending your run.

Enhanced for Xbox One X with 4K support or 60 frames a second at 1080p, it looks smooth and pretty. Granted, the models and textures aren’t anything mind blowing, but there’s just enough paint scratching and sparks with particle effects to make it look great. What is missing though is the soundtrack. It took me about an hour to notice it, but there’s absolutely no music in the game. All you’ll hear is your engine and crashing, that’s literally it. Sure you can put some Spotify on in the background, but it’s a very odd omission to have, be it due to rights or costs.

Danger Zone 2 isn’t a terrible game by any means, but it is bare bone and almost devoid of any personality. It’s a fun distraction in short bursts if you really like climbing leaderboards, but there’s no longevity. There’s no soundtrack, no multiplayer, no replays and the menu system looks as tacked on as it gets. At $10 I could see it being a hard sell, but fun for those of us that miss the classic Burnout days, but the problem is, it’s being sold for double that. $20 for a single game mode from a classic just isn’t enough when it doesn’t even match its quality and personality. That, and there’s no Kenny Loggins.

Overall: 5.5 / 10
Gameplay: 6.0 / 10
Visuals: 7.0 / 10
Sound: 2.0 / 10


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