As enormous fans of Criterion's classic arcade racing series Burnout, we've been patiently waiting for either a revival from EA (a pipe dream, let's be honest) or for someone else to crash into the scene with a fast and brazen alternative. That's exactly what Three Fields Entertainment has created with Dangerous Driving, although you'd best pump the brakes on your expectations. Built on a modest budget by a tiny team, this brash racer comes surprisingly close to its inspiration, but it struggles to keep up where it counts.
Clearly aping the excellent Burnout 3: Takedown in its presentation, the game is a pretty straightforward one: you're provided with a generous number of events, and it's your job to boost, drift, and smash your way to victory. The Dangerous Driving Tour campaign is what's available at launch, but it packs in plenty of variants on the action, and swaps between a handful of modes to keep things interesting. Primarily, though, your aim is to go as fast as you can for as long as you can, and that of course involves racing recklessly. Doing so earns you boost, and there are plenty of ways to achieve this -- drive into oncoming traffic, get close to pedestrian vehicles, drift around bends, and so on.
Takedowns are also very much in. Though you can't perform them in every event type, the ability to shunt your rivals into traffic, barriers, and each other adds a lot of spice to the already frenetic races. That you can be slammed out of the race as well heightens the tension, as you all scream along at 200mph, dodging and weaving through traffic in a bid to turn each other into scrap metal. It's aggressive, satisfying, and ultimately, still a lot of fun.
The game certainly recalls memories of the first few Burnout titles with its selection of modes. Survival feels like a throwback to the very first game, tasking you with driving as long as you can without crashing while checkpoints top up a short countdown timer. Heatwave races eschew takedowns in favour of boost chaining, where you must fill your boost bar and expend it all at once, which will fill it back up again. This is certainly reminiscent of the first couple of titles. Pursuit mode, in which you chase down baddies in a police car, makes a return from Burnout 2: Point of Impact, and of course, Road Rage is ripped straight from the third entry. With the developer's staff strongly tied to Criterion's series, there's absolutely no shying away from what it's shooting for here.
But while the variety of modes is good, and the overall feel is extremely evocative, we're not entirely convinced by some aspects. Vehicle control is generally okay, and the sensation of speed is great, but drifts are clunky. Sliding through corners feels decent once you're sideways, but entering and exiting a drift feels inconsistent. There are also issues with collisions. You're likely to end up riding the outer barrier on a bend, but this can result in some strange clipping that sends your car out at a bizarre angle, or you could be spun around, or forced to a standstill.
There are also a lot of bugs right now. We've seen traffic on the wrong side of the road, traffic disappearing into the asphalt, and our car launched into the sky after what should've been a head-on crash. Factor in some poor performance on a standard PS4, and it's technically quite rough.
It's a massive shame, because the general feel while you're screaming across the handful of tracks is good; boosting along, taking down opponents, dodging traffic -- it's simple fun, and comes closer than you might think to capturing the magic of Burnout. In fact, it goes beyond it in some ways; persistent wrecks litter the course as you take out other racers, making the race even more hazardous, and Spotify integration means Premium members can control their playlists in-game, both smart additions.
What we're left with is a scrappy arcade racer that does a good impression of Criterion's franchise, but misses the mark in a couple of key areas. That's not to say there isn't fun to be had -- this is more than capable of providing some insanely speedy thrills -- it's just very rough around the edges.
Dangerous Driving is a decent effort to bring back the boisterous, fast-paced racing of Burnout, and while it somewhat delivers on that promise, it's not without its fair share of problems. Technical issues hinder the experience, and one or two issues with handling stop the game from being a top arcade racer. However, the chaos and tension within the various event types makes for some good, old fashioned, adrenaline-fuelled action, and fans of this breed of racing will likely be able to burn a few hours here.