It’s hard to talk about Dangerous Driving without also talking about the Burnout series, so I’ll just get that over with at the top. Dangerous Driving was developed by Three Fields Entertainment, the studio behind Dangerous Golf, Lethal VR, and Danger Zone. Most notably, however, Three Fields Entertainment was founded by Fiona Sperry and Alex Ward, founders of Criterion Games, the creators of the Burnout series. With that in mind, it’s easy to forgive (if not applaud) Dangerous Driving for attempting to revive the formula that made Burnout flourish. In fact, it’s in the moments that it’s most directly attempting to emulate Burnout that Dangerous Driving is at its absolute best. And for the rest of the time? Well, let’s get to the review.
Dangerous Driving has a pretty simple premise. Drive fast, boost a lot, wreck other cars, not yourself. When it sticks to that path, it’s a very fun, occasionally buggy game. There are six vehicle classes that change the vehicles handling and speed as you progress; Sedan, SUV, Coupe, Supercar, Hypercar and Formula DD classes will all unlock as you complete the previous class. As you get better and unlock more, the vehicles available to you will generally get faster and control slightly differently from the last. They don’t handle differently enough to really change the way you play, but differently enough that it may take you a few races to get the hang of pulling off the proper drift and placement on turns.
There are ten varieties of events to play through in each class, some of them greatly changing the way you play the game. The Race event is your first and is fairly self explanatory. You’ll race 5 AI controlled cars around some gorgeous tracks. You’re able to “take down” your opponents Burnout style. That isn’t necessarily the goal, but it certainly doesn’t hurt your chances of winning. You’ll notice in Race mode that your opponents’ AI is heavily “rubber banded” and no matter how far you pull ahead, you’ll always have someone waiting right behind you. I found it easiest to use my boost to get into first, and once I was in first, take it easy on the boost for a while and just try not to crash while staving off competitors.
The “Road Rage” event is where Dangerous Driving is the most Burnout, but it’s a style of gameplay I’ve missed a lot and where Dangerous is at its best. You have a set time limit and your goal is to take down as many opponents as you can, earning yourself a Bronze, Silver, Gold or Platinum (gee, where have I seen that progression before?) medal along the way. Bashing into cars as hard as you can is easily the most fun to be had in this game. Aside from that, some of the other standout modes are: “Face Off” – a one on one race that is most definitely not rubber banded, and you can easily get 30 seconds ahead, or behind with a single wreck; “Eliminator” – the car in last place at the end of each lap is removed from the race until only one remains; and “Pursuit” – Modern day cops and robbers. You’re the cop, and your job is to chase, and destroy, the opposing vehicle(s).
As noted, these modes are all inspired by Burnout and showcase how fun the game can be. However, when Dangerous Driving strays from that formula, the results can be incredibly frustrating for you, the player, and downright dangerous for your controller. “Shakedown Preview”, “Shakedown” and “Survival” are all solo events where you race only the clock. That leaves you with no one to take down but yourself on the various traffic on each course, the struggle of driving and handling while using boost, the hazards along the wall and the… invisible bugs that occasionally find you plummeting through the ground into an endless abyss for what seems like no reason? That’s not a one-off either. In the 10-15 hours I’ve put into the game, I’ve found myself plummeting into the void no less than a dozen times; Enough to contemplate time, existence, and whether my controller should be punished for Dangerous Driving’s sins. It wouldn’t be so frustrating, but where Burnout was forgiving with its players, knowing the game was built for speed, not precision, and you could crash multiple times without it affecting your placement, Dangerous Driving doesn’t allow any room for error. In fact, if you crash even once in either Shakedown mode, it’s nearly impossible to get a gold medal. Unfortunately, the nature of the game means you need to stay on the boost as much as possible, and all it takes is one slow car coming around one corner while you’re boosting to leave no time to react and ruin your entire run. I feel like these modes could be much more fun if they removed the randomized traffic from the course.
Oh and there are bugs. Lots of them. Thankfully, since day one, Three Fields has released two patches, which have greatly improved the experience. On day one I was experiencing a bug on nearly every event. Plummeting through the ground for no reason, driving through a guardrail into an ocean, bouncing back from a wall and finding myself only able to drive backwards. Luckily, it almost adds a weird charm that I was able to find laughable, as long as it was in a fun event that I had no problem replaying. Last night, in the middle of a race, I bumped a wall and the sun got at least 15 times brighter. I essentially wrecked into the code of the game and changed my brightness levels. It’s added a weird “character” to the game. When these bugs ruin a perfect Shakedown time though, I would have to put the controller down and walk away for a few minutes. At one point I was on course for my first “Shakedown” gold medal and my car sunk at least a foot and a half into the asphalt, unable to move. I had to completely restart the race.
I feel like these bugs are generally forgivable with a team as small as Three Fields’ though. They had all of the time and resources in the world while at Criterion, which was owned by EA. That lack of resources brings us to the soundtrack. Well, the lack of a soundtrack. The soundtrack of a racing game is nearly as important as the mechanics. So many games boast well-curated soundtracks or multiple radio stations, allowing you to pick your favorite driving music. Dangerous Driving took a different approach. I firmly believe that they realized that they could not afford the rights to the music they wanted, and found a clever workaround. You can fully integrate the game with your own Spotify Premium account. I would imagine they got money from Spotify in this deal, but they also are giving you, the player, the opportunity to create your own “favorite songs” playlist and use that on your own. It tends to work out fairly well. I’d prefer to do less work to hear music while I play a video game, but I can definitely appreciate the effort and I fully expect more games in the future to utilize this in similar or even more innovative ways.
In summary, Dangerous Driving is an incredibly ambitious effort from an incredibly small team. As such, at times the passion of their craft shows through, and at times their lack of resources rears its head, frustratingly. This combination creates an incredibly fun game that definitely fills some of the void that has been empty since Burnout Revenge last released in 2005 (wow, I’m old) but the flaws and bugs can certainly make you question whether the game is worth it at full price. If nothing else though, Three Fields Entertainment has shown a commitment to fix the bugs and improve the experience, and that’s enough for me to recommend supporting them in this endeavour, especially if you, like me, find yourself screaming “JUST ANNOUNCE A NEW BURNOUT” every E3 season.
Dangerous Driving was provided to us for review via Three Fields Entertainment. If you’d like to see gameplay, you can see 30+ minutes of Alden’s gameplay here.