Also On: Xbox One, PC
Publisher: Three Fields Entertainment
Developer: Three Fields Entertainment
I can’t remember the last time I felt as disappointed by a game as I am by Dangerous Driving.
Like, on paper it sounds like it should have everything going for it. It’s a racing game by Three Fields Entertainment, the studio founded by a group of former Criterion developers who worked on the Burnout franchise. This is their fourth outing, and after a rocky beginning with Dangerous Golf and Danger Zone, last year’s Danger Zone 2 seemed to suggest they were on the cusp of capturing the magic that made their old series so beloved.
Instead, we get Dangerous Driving, which…well, to be blunt, it sucks.
I honestly can’t think of another way to describe the game. Dangerous Driving is bad in almost every way. Instead of being a fun arcade racer that provides hours upon hours of vehicular destruction — which Danger Zone 2 seemed to indicate would be on the menu — we have a boring racer with iffy controls, bewildering physics, overpowered AI, and barely any destruction.
Oh, and lens flare. So, so, so much lens flare. Apparently the lesson that Three Fields took from their previous games is that they’d be more fun if players were blinded, so you spend a significant chunk of this game squinting as light shimmers off every surface. The sun? Blinding, obviously. The roads? Often inexplicably covered in puddles, which reflect light into your eyes. Oncoming traffic? Lens flare off the hoods and the windshields! It’s a baffling decision, made all the worse by the fact there’s no option to tone down the brightness, and it means that, without even getting into the actual gameplay, the simple act of looking at Dangerous Driving is a deeply unpleasant experience.
And when you do factor in the gameplay? Well, it’s still a deeply unpleasant experience. For starters, the controls are terrible. In theory, you can build up your turbo boost by zooming into oncoming traffic, launching yourself off jumps, and narrowly avoiding collisions with other cars. In practice, no matter how much boost you build up, you can only use a small amount of it at any given time. You can kind of build up your speed by pressing your boost button repeatedly in short, quick bursts, but that’s a much bigger hassle than simply allowing players to hold down the button, as you can do in most other racing games.
Drifting is equally bad, but for a different reason — specifically, that it’s totally unpredictable whether the game will allow you to drift or not. Sometimes it would be normal (that is, you tap the brakes as you head into a turn, and you drift), but other times, the act of tapping the brakes would just stop the car dead. Given that drifting is kind of a core mechanic of any racing game worth its salt, you can see why that would be a huge mark against the game.
It should tell you how terrible Dangerous Driving is that inconsistent drifting is nowhere near its most egregious sin. To be sure, there are just so many ways this game fails, it’s hard to tell what stands out as its biggest failure, but the more I think about the game, the more everything about it stands out as awful.
Like, let’s talk about its physics for a second. The drifting kind of fits in with this category, but it encompasses so much more. The collision detection here is all over the place. You can grind your car against the guardrail for hundreds of feet, and it will cause you little to no damage, and it will slow you down only slightly. Conversely, you can get kind of close to another car, and you’ll find yourself either stopped dead on contact, or flipping down the road as you crash and burn. Guessing what the result will be is a complete crapshoot.
I should also note that I use the phrase “crash and burn” in that previous paragraph in only the loosest sense possible. There’s really not a whole lot of burning going on in Dangerous Driving — or explosions, generally, for that matter. In fact, for a game that, theoretically, is built around making other cars crash, there’s remarkably little action here. Unlike Burnout (and Dangerous Golf, and Danger Zone, and Danger Zone 2), where the games lovingly lingered on explosions and did everything in their power to encourage you to destroy, here the most you’ll get is a brief, unsatisfying sorta-cutscene of opposing cars (or yours) flipping once or twice before catching on fire, at which point the game cuts back to the action.
But even during these brief moments, Dangerous Driving does everything it can to disappoint, and it does so in a way that touches on all the flaws I’ve already mentioned. For one thing, every car is oddly shiny, and they don’t really get damaged regardless of what kind of crashes they endure. I suppose if you want to see a car explode without anything actually happening, you’re in luck, but otherwise, the action will feel like a big letdown.
Likewise, the physics at play during those brief cutscenes are kind of baffling. You can crash your opponents into a guardrail on one side, and when the game replays the moment for you it will make it look like the crash happened on the other side of the track. Dangerous Driving also doesn’t seem to know what to make of people crashing, as evidenced by the fact that, every so often, I’d find myself in last place following a crash, only to have another competitor zoom by me, as if the game wanted to add more racers in, but wasn’t sure how to do it.
Then again, it wouldn’t have shocked me if Dangerous Driving really did insert extra racers into every race, since it would fit in with all the other moves that make this game’s AI ridiculously overpowered. Seemingly every opponent you face starts races off with a turbo boost, leaving you racing to catch up. Opponents rarely crash, and when they do, it barely slows them down: I lost track of the number of times I bumped opponents into walls, saw their “fiery” “explosions”, and then watched as they immediately zoomed by me again.
And, finally, to top it all off, for some reason this game includes no in-race maps. Given the number of races that require knowing where you and your opponents are on the course, this seems like a major oversight. Or, at least, it would seem like a major oversight in literally every other racing game. Here, it’s par for the course, just one more complaint in a long, long, long list of them.
I’d like to say that Dangerous Driving has some redeeming qualities. After all, it was possibly my most anticipated game for 2019, thanks to Danger Zone 2 making me eager to see what Three Fields Entertainment were building towards. Instead, we get this…thing. It’s a thorough disappointment, and I can’t help but feel like everything about it could have been improved substantially.
Three Fields Entertainment provided us with a Dangerous Driving PS4 code for review purposes.