I hate to say it, but I haven’t truly enjoyed a racing game since Burnout 4. Sure, Forza’s cool and Gran Turismo pumps out some amazingly realistic games, but I still yearn for that old school arcade driving action. While the series continued with Paradise, and some other racers had glimmers of the adrenaline fueled chaos of those original four games, nothing has quite lived up to it for me. So of course I had to check out Dangerous Driving at PAX East 2019 once I heard it was coming from Alex Ward’s Three Fields Entertainment, a studio full of devs who made those classics.
Dangerous Driving looks exactly like how I’d imagine a new Burnout game would
Walking by the booth, with just a giant HDTV standing on a table so passersby could ogle the game with few distractions, I felt like I’d made the right call. Dangerous Driving looks exactly like how I’d imagine a new Burnout game would. Picking up the controller confirmed this feeling as I got right back into the groove of dodging oncoming traffic, bumping opponents into guardrails, and boosting my way to a tight and insanely satisfying victory.
In regards to the game, there’s actually not much more you need to hear beyond the fact that it comes from some of the people who crafted those early Burnout titles. Dangerous Driving is very firmly in the arcade racing category, and is intentionally focused on fast, responsive driving as opposed to realism. There was no hour long speech about how the car reacts to the road or how the leather seats imply a plush, luxurious experience as you drive. Instead you just hit the gas, get up to over a hundred MPH, and try to stay in the front of the pack as your opponents crash in spectacular fashion all around you, sometimes because you made them crash.
And whenever that happens you get to watch it in all its shiny, slow motion glory. This can even become a bit of a gameplay mechanic, as wrecking another car will set you on the right path in the race, so taking risks is encouraged. However, those wrecks do persist between laps, meaning lap 3 has a whole lot more hazards than laps 1 and 2. Of course, when you get unlucky and crash yourself, you get to try to take someone with you using a fine touch mechanic, but either way you get set back quite a bit.
Thankfully, you have lots of ways of catching up, as I did in my play session at PAX East 2019. Nailing every turn, drifting around corners with precision, slamming on the boost and weaving in and out of traffic feels just as good in Dangerous Driving as it did in Burnout. The handling is so tight that you can really pull off some amazing moves on your way from the back of the pack to the front. It takes skill, lightning fast reflexes, and a bit of luck though, especially those tight corners.
It’s clear that the game has been crafted outside the AAA studio crunch in many ways, but only when you dig in or ask Alex Ward about it. “We set up our company in 2013 with seven people. We’ve made a variety of indie games. And each game is a stepping stone to the next one. So if you follow the games that we’ve put out you’ll see that we’ve been working on physics, learning Unreal Engine, working on cars, making cars crash, making cars crash outside. And now we’re making them race outside.”
That core group is still at the helm for Dangerous Driving, and they’ve been working hard. “We’re only seven people,” explains Ward. “We’re a seven person team. Three programmers. Two artists. I’m a part time artist. That’s why we’re called Three Fields, because you have to be able to try your hand at three things…We’re a very small team, working on three platforms at once. We used to have hundreds of people and millions of dollars, and twenty four months. We started in August 2018. That’s very, very, very fast for a 3D driving game.”
That hard work seems to have paid off based on my short time with the game at PAX East, but we’ll have to wait till full release to find out. Luckily there isn’t long to wait. Dangerous Driving arrives on PS4, Xbox One, and PC on April 9th, check back for our full review then. And for those hoping to get Crash Mode, that’s actually already available. It’s called Danger Zone 2, and those who buy Dangerous Driving on PS4 or Xbox One get it for free.