Danger Zone is a vehicular destruction game from the team at Three Fields Entertainment, who also developed Dangerous Golf. The game has been out since May on PlayStation 4 and Steam, but Xbox gamers will get to join in on the action now, and with 12 exclusive levels on top of the 20 already available. In addition, anyone who chooses to get an Xbox One X later this year will find that they can choose to run the game at 4K resolution, or at 1080p resolution and 60 frames per second — the FPS at 4K was not specified, but a target of 30 frames per second seems like a reasonable bet. Although, given that the graphics look like they would have been more at home on the previous console generation I’m not sure 4k will do much for the game.
At its heart Danger Zone is a puzzle game with each of its 32 levels challenging the player to cause as much damage as possible using a limited set of power-ups. Each level follows a static pattern with cars and trucks always entering and exiting at the same time and location, which in theory should allow players to analyze the levels and approach them fairly logically, but in fact, the opposite tends to be true. The results of your actions, particularly in early levels, feel random and inconsistent, and that adds a layer of frustration to the game that really shouldn’t exist for such a simple premise.
You only have a few limited ways to cause destruction in this game: you can nudge cars off their assigned tracks, you can full on ram or crash into them (though this ends your ability to influence things directly after that), or you can use your power-up, the Smashbreaker. This last option is an area of effect attack which destroys all the cars around you (including yourself) and pushes them away, enabling a massive amount of chaos. It also propels you straight up into the air, and then you can control your car to a degree and direct it to where you want. As you get more proficient with this you’ll be able to use the Smashbreaker to direct yourself toward powerups which allow you to do more Smashbreakers. At this point, the puzzle elements start coming into focus as you need to figure out how to create a chain of as many Smashbreakers as possible, while also using them to destroy the maximum amount of cars. When a level finally ‘clicks’ and you chain the Smashbreakers perfectly it can be immensely satisfying.
Unfortunate, y Danger Zone is hampered by a number of problems which take away from the overall experience. The first of these is the camera. You have no control over it, and it is zoomed in to such a degree that a solid third of your screen space is effectively useless. Second, the driving controls are not nearly as precise as they need to be, and the car tends to go out of control at the slightest hint of turning. Lastly — and this isn’t so much a flaw as it is an oversight — is that this game is in desperate need of a replay system. Some of the most satisfying moments in this game occur when you cause a traffic jam and you watch the carnage unfold. Cars and trucks go flying, explosions are popping off all over the place and the road becomes more and more clogged with debris. But you won’t see most of this since the camera is controlled by the AI, and it decides what to show you. A replay system with a fully controllable camera would be amazing for a game like this. The ability to share replays so you could see how other people tackled the puzzles would also be useful.
Danger Zone Review Final Thoughts:
Danger Zone is a decent enough game when all the parts click together and you cause that perfect symphony of destruction. However, it is marred by its camera and imprecise controls. Additionally, the graphics are fairly dated, and some additional time sprucing up the explosions and destruction would have gone a long way to increase the appeal of the game. You can get much the same experience of this game, with prettier explosions, in the Just Cause games. That’s not to say that you shouldn’t give this game a look, especially if you have young kids who don’t need or want complex gameplay loops and just want to destroy cars, but it may not be the best bet for your money. At $15 Danger Zone feels just a little overpriced for what it is, but when it goes on sale you could certainly get a few hours of gameplay out of it.