Three Fields Entertainment has been building up to its eventual Burnout-esque racing game over the course of the last couple of years. Danger Zone aimed to reproduce the magic of Crash mode, and while it largely succeeded, the sequel feels like the next step towards arcade racing goodness. Danger Zone 2 may tread similar territory to its predecessor, but it improves a number of things that make it a better experience.
The gameplay here is almost identical to the first Danger Zone – you must cause as much damage as you can by driving into traffic, controlling your vehicle's movement through the air to hit other cars and collect items to help improve your score. This core is still rock solid, nailing the "one more go" factor as you climb the leaderboards for each level. However, there are two major changes in this sequel that boost the fun.
Firstly, the crash junctions are no longer in some drab indoors facility. The game has been taken outside and onto recreations of real roads. This, along with a much more colourful lick of paint, makes for a far more attractive game to look at. There are definitely still elements that feel a little undercooked, such as the continued lack of music and a UI that's easy to read but is strangely bland. However, Three Fields Entertainment is gunning for Burnout, and Danger Zone 2 feels a lot closer overall in terms of visuals.
Secondly, nearly all the levels have a prolonged run up to the 'danger zone' itself. Before you reach the main event, a stretch of highway allows you to not only gather speed and momentum, but also provides you with optional run up objectives you can complete to further increase your score. These usually involve traffic checking, a mechanic originally introduced in Burnout: Revenge to allow you to slam pedestrian vehicles into one another to cause even more havoc. Other run up challenges will ask you to reach a number of boost chains. Boost chaining is a throwback to the original Burnout, where using your entire boost bar in one go refills it so you can keep going.
These extra wrinkles to the levels make the game a little more involved, but they also provide glimpses of regular racing gameplay. The various vehicles with which you play each level have different handling, but generally speaking, it's quite sensitive. You receive points for drifting, but we never really needed to as it's easy to turn through any corner in the game – in fact, it's probably a little too loose for its own good. Coupled with rather strict parameters on touching walls or vehicles larger than yours, the handling could do with being a little tighter.
However, it more than serves its purpose in a game that is, first and foremost, about the big traffic pileups, and you get just over 20 levels in which to boost, smash, and explode your way to a high score. Thanks to the run ups we mentioned earlier, the levels are both longer and more diverse than those in the first game. In some, you'll be racing a Formula 1 car through eight lane highways, and in others you'll be steaming through cars in a huge truck that sends traffic flying. It's good old fashioned fun, and although the game is light on content, the execution of the Crash mode style gameplay is pretty spot on.
Once you earn at least a bronze in every level, you unlock some bonus stages that actually shift focus onto time trial style races against the clock. These give you your best look at the driving, and while the handling is a bit rough around the edges, the sense of speed is excellent. It hints at what's to come in Dangerous Driving, Three Fields' racing game, which is a nice extra for those that beat the main game.
By expanding on the explode-'em-up gameplay we know and love, Danger Zone 2 makes some nifty improvements to the formula. The new locations and more vivid art style vastly improve the game's looks, while the extended run ups add a little extra challenge to the levels. Performance can be a little choppy and vehicle handling lands on the wrong side of generous, but overall, the game still delivers on its promise of a Crash mode experience.