Danger Zone 2 Review

By Kevin Tavore, 22 days ago
Like many of you, I have fond memories of Burnout from my childhood. Sure, there’s some racing in those memories, but more than that I remember the game’s crash mode. I would sit around the TV with friends and family for hours as we worked through the crash levels attempting to create giant wrecks at intersections and on freeways for maximum points. There was a thrill in making the attempt, failing and passing the controller on to watch someone else try to outdo you that few other games were doing at the time. Burnout has moved on, but many of the team that made it came back to it last year with Danger Zone, a game that was all about crash simulations. That was a success and now they’ve come back with Danger Zone 2, which offers more and more and more in the best ways possible.

Review

The gameplay is simple enough. It’s all set in sort-of real scenarios, with some locations even being somewhat true to real life, such as the exit ramp to LAX which anyone who’s been there regularly will recognize. In each level, you’ll drive to the intersection and complete a bonus objective along the way in what’s called the “run-up,” get into a giant wreck on the highway or at an intersection, and then use Smashbreakers to blow your car into the air and move it into new lanes to cause more destruction and collect three bonus tokens strewn about the road. Smashbreakers are limited, so choosing when and where to use them in order to get where you need to go and cause destruction is important. Ultimately, the goal is to score points and earn up to a platinum medal to compete on the leaderboard.

The wrecks are all exceedingly fun. The game is arcadey nearly to a fault, so you won’t feel like you’re watching an action movie or murdering innocent people a la Grand Theft Auto, but there’s a unique joy to blowing up and sending cars careening into opposing traffic. The environment is sometimes destructible, which means you can’t wreck a bridge but you can blow through the guardrails and cause even more damage. The physics engine’s craziness adds to the fun as you see cause and effect chains create a wreck a good distance from you thanks to drivers with no care for obvious and immediate danger.

Screenshot

Each level feels unique even though they’re all made of similar pieces as they operate as puzzles. Upon getting to the crash zone, you’ll need to pick up the bronze, silver and gold tokens in that order in order to nab enough points for the platinum medal. This means you’ll need to think through each level critically to determine where to enter and when to use Smashbreakers to get the tokens all while still making sure you cause enough destruction. You’ll likely need to try multiple times on most levels, but the trial and error brings a sense of discovery as things click into place that work exceptionally. Best of all, the difficulty is perfect as you’ll always feel like you can figure out what to do, but perfecting it is rarely so easy that you can do it without thought.

The biggest issue with Danger Zone 2 is the design of the “run-ups.” Each level starts with them and they can be exceedingly long. In these, you simply drive to the destination while accomplishing a secondary objective like wrecking 20 cars or boosting the whole time. Most of these are easy, but they still take a lot of time which gets frustrating when you just want to get back to creating huge wrecks. It’s even worse when some of the challenges are excessively tough, such as wrecking semi-trucks that seem to blow you up on a whim. Even when it works flawlessly though, the run-ups just aren’t part of what makes the game fun.

Rounding out the issues are some bugs that will leave you awestruck and alternatingly amused and irritated. For instance, in the video below, you’ll see my car flip into the ground for no reason and descend to the underworld. Other times, the physics will get wonky and send you careening into the air or straight into a wall for no apparent reason. Or maybe you’ll run over a stop sign and it’ll get stuck on your hood, blowing your car up when you tap another car. These bugs are sometimes so ridiculous you’ll laugh, but I can’t say they actually made the game better in any way — and when you’re on your 30th run down the same level after getting screwed in the run-up way too many times, the last thing you want is an obnoxious bug to send you back to the start.


The achievements are a step up in difficulty from the first game, but are still mostly quite easy. You’ll find yourself creating crashes among other generic milestone achievements that will all come naturally as you progress through the levels. The only challenge is getting all platinum medals, which will require completing every runup, getting all the tokens in order, and creating a large wreck at once for each level. Most of these are still pretty easy — quite a few I got in one attempt and most in less than ten — but there are a few that can drag out the completion time just a little. Overall, I’d imagine most people will wrap this up within about six hours or less.

Check out our The Best Xbox Arcade Racing Games Available in 2018 article for a compilation of other great games in this genre.

Summary

For fans of Burnout’s crash mode and the first Danger Zone, Danger Zone 2 offers more of the same addictive gameplay. It’s simple, but there’s a certain joy to creating catastrophic wrecks that other games simply can’t match. Each level plays out as a puzzle mixed with an automotive calamity that you’ll need to solve and the system really works. You’ll enjoy reaching those high scores and then moving on to the next level. There are some negatives, like the misguided “run-up” system that plagues the start of each level, but ultimate those negatives are hindrances floating on the surface, not weights dragging the game down to the bottom of the sea. If you just want to see a carpocalypse, Danger Zone 2’s got you covered.
4 / 5
Positives
  • Each level is well designed as a puzzle, but isn't overly difficult
  • The level of mastery required is perfect, rewarding discovery without being overly technical
  • Some environments based on real life add a nice touch
Negatives
  • “Run-ups” are not fun whatsoever and detract from the overall experience
  • More than a handful of bugs that aren’t always fun to encounter
Ethics Statement
The reviewer spent approximately four hours blowing up innocent drivers, their families, and public infrastructure for the sake of points, unlocking 12 out of 13 achievements for 950 Gamerscore. A download code was provided through the ID@Xbox program for the purpose of this review.
Kevin Tavore
Written by Kevin Tavore
Kevin is a lover of all types of media, especially any type of long form story. The American equivalent of Aristotle, he'll write about anything and everything and you'll usually see him as the purveyor of news, reviews and the occasional op-ed. He's happy with any game that's not point and click or puzzling, but would always rather be outdoors in nature.