2019 seems to be a pretty interesting year for lovers of arcade driving games. After the excellent Xenon Racer, a futuristic “emulus” of Ridge Racer made by our 3DClouds, it’s time for another highly anticipated exponent of the genre: Dangerous Driving. The title of Three Fields Entertainment is nothing more than a true spiritual heir to the historic series Burnout, which takes up quite clearly every single feature. After all, the operative heart of the newborn software house is formed by members of the team that that series helped to bring it to the fore.
The main problem of this new creature is perhaps just to be too attached to tradition, proposing not only the dynamics of play, but also elements of the interface (just look at the way in which the bonuses are listed just above the turbocharger) and, as it may seem incredible, even the names of some of the modes. The chaotic and hilarious “Road Rage”, for example, was one of the flagships of the unforgettable Burnout 3: Takedown. It wouldn’t have spoiled, moreover, some further attempt at rejuvenation: Dangerous Driving in some ways seems just a game of a decade ago, and in this case it’s not necessarily a compliment.
Adrenalin in profusion
It only takes a few seconds to understand what the Three Fields Entertainment title is made of. What we’re dealing with is a passionate tribute to one of the most significant arcade titles of the twenty-first century; a product that has innovated and distorted the market in the PlayStation 2 era, promoter of a way of video games on four wheels without frills, exciting and adrenaline-filled to the point. This can be understood from the first start, when you come into contact with an austere and direct menu.
There’s only one mode, which represents a sort of “single player career”: there’s no secondary content to deal with individually or in groups, nor is there the possibility to compete online with other players around the world. The only point of contact with the outside world at the moment is the presence of global leaderboards. The real multiplayer mode, however, should arrive – according to the authors – shortly after the release.
All in all, there is no shortage of content: the types of challenges are different, and among them there are also some brand new ones. Beyond the classic races, in which we will have to fight with our fingernails and teeth against five other cars to overtake and takedown (of course the trademark of the original series could not fail), appear the events called “Pursuit”, real chases in which, in a armored police car, we will be forced to hunt down a particularly resistant vehicle.
Contrary to what happens in normal races, where the cars are always ready to take flight at the slightest contact, in this case there is a “bar of life” to be emptied progressively with well-settled lateral blows and experiments. It is a nice alternative able to break the monotony. Also interesting is the “Heatwave” mode, in which we will have to use as much as possible the turbo to earn bonuses: in such situations it will be even more important not to give up the turbo key, forcing us to drive even more aggressively than usual.
To further enrich the gaming experience in each type of race, then, there is one of the most important news: the introduction of persistent carcasses.
Every single takedown will leave in the middle of the road (until the end of the race) the chassis of the car that we crashed, making the next steps even more insidious. The effects of this novelty can be seen above all in the “Eliminator” mode, the one in which you usually have to make more laps. Five, to be precise: enough to allow the progressive elimination (at the end of each lap, the last in the standings is eliminated) of five of the six cars in the race. Our only regret is that we can not try to our liking combinations of vehicles, tracks and modes in a sort of “free play”. As far as the means are concerned, we must also admit that we were not fully satisfied with the choice. We have six different classes at our disposal, it’s true, but within each there are only four variants of the same generic vehicle (one version “tuned” more performing, one “advanced” more durable and so on), moreover with the possibility of customization almost nil. The only thing that we can modify, and moreover only in a random way, is the painting.
If nothing else, when switching from one type of vehicle to another, we have seen substantial changes in terms of driveability. The tracks are valid and well characterized, although they are rather linear and without any shortcuts. There are branches from time to time, but they do not seem to guarantee significant differences in travel times.
We missed a bit of the charm of some urban scenarios seen in the best chapters of Burnout, in short. Although we didn’t expect a sprawling layout like the one that served as a backdrop to the challenges of Burnout Paradise (which in the end belonged to another genre), we would have appreciated a bit more complexity, so as to further increase the – already high – level of uncertainty of the races.
Although the contour is not exactly impeccable and overflowing with content, we must admit that we were enraptured by what is the beating heart of the production.
Running around on the track avoiding traffic and drifting like a madman in search of a bit more turbocharging is fun and rewarding. Superlative also the balance of the degree of challenge: always high, yet never prohibitive. Among other things, the mechanism by which the amount of turbo obtained is calculated keeps the races alive until the last second: statistically, 90% of the NOS is earned through the takedowns of our rivals, according to a system that penalizes in a rather obvious way anyone who chooses to drive in a more “conservative” way, administering the advantage. As the title of the game suggests: you have to drive “in a dangerous way”. And when you’re first you have to do even more. If all opponents are behind us and we can not resort to takedowns, to refresh ourselves with a minimum of turbo will need to drift as much as possible, and maybe avoid traffic at the last minute. Remaining without turbo, however, you risk moving from the first to the sixth and last position in a moment.
This makes every game of Dangerous Driving a continuous succession of discharges of pure adrenaline. And the credit is also due to the variety of situations that this new Burnout is able to generate. Each type of challenge has its own identity, and although none of them make you cry out for innovation and genius, they all have something to say.
It’s a bit of a pity to see all this potential only partially exploited; it’s only used to set up a pleasant déjà-vu. The same cleanliness can also be found in the technical sector, which shows high-impact light effects and a more than discreet rendering quality, without any particular delays worthy of note.