Dangerous Driving (2019)
Dangerous Driving is Three Fields Entertainments culmination of several years of build up. TFE is composed of ex-Criterion developers who wanted to bring back their original Burnout series. They started out with Dangerous Golf, to learn the Unreal Engine, then ramped it up with Danger Zone, then Danger Zone 2 which was basically just the Crash mode expanded into full games and now Dangerous Driving. Dangerous Driving is 100% a Burnout game in basically everything but name. Since EA owns the license to that property. Calling this something other than Burnout doesn’t harm the game though, they made it their own.
Dangerous Driving seems extremely familiar right from the get go. They use the same fonts, UI placement and even the same sound effects as Burnout 3: Takedown and even Burnout Revenge. This makes the game feel instantly recognizable, but also since its the same UI and text as back in 2004, it feels very out of date. The text is stretched in a way that it feels like you are looking at a scaled up 720p image. Once you get past the nostalgia, you will notice the distinct lack of music. These racing games from EA usually always have some punk-pop or rap-rock soundtrack that you want to go through immediately and change. Since this game is a budget game, it actually doesn’t have a soundtrack, the licensing would cost too much. Instead the develops did something that I’ve been wanting since the days of the original xbox. Customized soundtracks, this time in the form of Spotify Integration. If you have a Spotify account, you can link it to the game and play whatever you want and be able to control Play/Pause, Previous & Next tracks within the game. It can be a little clunky if you want to change up a playlist, but I opted to use the Burnout Playlist composed of every song in the Burnout games I made several years ago.
The game itself is split into classes of vehicles, several races with a sedan, then a SUV, then a sports car and so on. The races range from the standard race to bringing back some Burnout staples like Road Rage and Burning Rubber, this time labeled as Heatwave.
Dangerous Driving is a great game on paper. Take a beloved series like Burnout, that hasn’t been made in a long time and give the fans what they want.
As a budget title, Dangerous Driving is an extremely fun fast paced battle racing game, but has some major flaws. I got a lot of nostalgic throwback when playing the several hours of this game that I put in. Although I didn’t complete it because of those flaws. The rubber-banding AI is the worst part of this game. You don’t really get rewarded for playing the game in the later stages as you are expected to play. In fact you have to go against the core design of the game to unbreak what the game has actually broken.
If you are ahead in a race, and play the way the game is designed, by holding boost down basically the entire time, you are all but guaranteed to run into oncoming traffic that somehow just “happens to be right in the perfect spot to make you crash” behind a blind turn. Or you might end up being magnetized to the guardrail of a large curve. When these crashes do happen, it doesn’t matter how many seconds ahead of where you are, the AI is literally always right behind you. Once you respawn you will be behind the pack at least 7 seconds behind, even if you had a 30 second lead. Boosting only makes matters worse, as the AI is programed to match your speed. If you are not boosting and have a rival in front of you, and you begin your boost, you will notice they start boosting as well, not just matching your speed, but somehow exceeding it, even though you are maxing your speed and have the same exact car, they will pull ahead and start to leave you in the dust.
The game itself is extremely fun, because it is basically a new Burnout game. It plays it safe, sticking to one single player mode without its crash mode (I guess we got 2 games before that were only crash mode) and doesn’t have online as of yet or anything else. But the punishing difficulty and the wonky physics that will sometimes cause you to fly off a track, be spawned the wrong way, or even have cars fall like rain from the sky in front of you, it does come off as a very budget feeling title. There is a distinct lack of polish to this game that makes me sad. Not the missing soundtrack, as the Spotify integration is a welcomed addition. I’d rather then use that money for licensing bad punk-pop songs somewhere else. But the overall UI just feels very outdated. I like that they basically reused the same fonts, naming conventions, and even sound effects as Burnout 3 Takedown, but if does have a older feeling of it looking like a uprez’ed 720p image.
The first 5-7 hours of this game were a blast. Being able to load up my Burnout playlist consisting of every Burnout soundtrack and just play all the road rage missions made me feel like I was back in my first apartment staying up till 3am. The last leg of the game turned to rage blinding frustration as the AI really showed how broken the game is behind the stitching of the levels. Chicane turns coupled by the incessant bloom and low camera make the game impossible to beat unless you don’t boost.
I’d love to recommend this game to everyone, especially as its a budget title at $30 and gives you a racing experience that hasn’t been around for a solid decade. But as it stands at release time, unless you just want to support the developers or just play the majority of the game but never complete it, you’ll be frustrated beyond belief at the end of the game. There is a bright light at the end of the tunnel as the developers already said they are working on patches and even adding in stuff like multiplayer in the future. Which gives me hope. Maybe I’ll come back and finish the game in a month or two. But those last few tracks have really soured my experience.