Dangerous Driving is the game Three Fields Entertainment has been building towards for the last few years. The small studio, founded by Criterion's top dogs Alex Ward and Fiona Sperry, first released Dangerous Golf in 2016, a destructive, score-attack golf game that spoke to the developer's intentions. A successor to Burnout, or at least a revival of its brand of arcade racing, has been the team's plan all along, and it's here at last.
We've been playing it for the last few days, and as big fans of Criterion's bombastic racing series, Dangerous Driving does stir similar feelings. There are clear parallels to Burnout 3: Takedown in its presentation, although it's all truncated here -- fewer cars, fewer events, and fewer options. That's not to say this isn't worth your time, it's simply a smaller game made to a tighter budget.
The important thing is how it handles, and it's a valiant attempt to recreate the drifting, boosting, smashing action found in its inspiration. Developed in Unreal Engine 4, it's not exactly the same, and there are areas that do let it down. Drifting feels a little off, for one thing -- transitioning into a drift is inconsistent and isn't as smooth as it should be. Steering is pretty responsive, and cars can make tighter turns than you'd expect at 180mph. It all feels very fast once you start using boost, which sees you rocketing forwards with all the motion blur in the world providing a great sense of speed.
Ultimately, though, it's a bit scrappy. There's hardly any traffic on the roads, the visuals are quite rough, there are a number of clipping issues that will slow you down or make you crash, and performance on a standard PS4 deviates from its 30 frames per second target. Apparently the game runs at 60 on PS4 Pro, but that doesn't really solve the other problems.
Having said all that, there is something in here that will get Burnout fans fired up. Screaming down a highway at insane speeds, driving into oncoming traffic, and taking down opponent vehicles is a thrill that Dangerous Driving is capable of delivering. Takedown cameras, Aftertouch, the on-screen prompts -- it's all here, and it's uncanny in places how similar it is to Burnout 3, but unfortunately the gameplay isn't on the same level. Again, fans will likely have a good time with this, but it's just not quite there at the moment.
Not helping matters is the lack of an equivalent to Crash mode, something Three Fields is well versed in these days. Its last game, Danger Zone 2, is all about these crash junctions, and combined with Dangerous Driving's improved handling, it would make for a more fully featured game at launch. Instead, you have the Dangerous Driving Tour, a series of different races in various car classes, and that's it. To be fair, there are plenty of modes, going from regular races to Road Rage, cops n' robbers mode Pursuit, and Heatwave, a race that ditches Takedowns in favour of boost chaining. Additionally, certain cars are better suited to certain events, adding a small layer of strategy to your vehicle choice. But with no online races and no Crash mode at launch, it's a little on the small side.
There are some attempts at trying new things, however. Persistent wrecks mean that crashed cars will stay on the track, making the second and third laps that much more treacherous, while a smart implementation of Spotify within the game allows you to import a playlist from the music app to listen to while you race. If you don't have Spotify Premium, though, you'll have to drive with only your engine for a soundtrack.
We still have yet to finish the Tour, but early impressions are that Dangerous Driving is a decent, if flawed, take on one of arcade racing's biggest names. Occasionally the magic shines through as you travel at blistering speeds and drift around wide bends, but slightly shonky gameplay and some technical hiccups hold it back. With updates, it could be polished up and its performance tuned, but right now it's not quite the thrill ride it wants to be.
Dangerous Driving smashes its way onto PS4 on 9th April 2019. Are you looking forward to this Burnout-inspired racer? Boost through traffic into the comments below.