Dangerous Driving is the Burnout Successor We've Been Waiting For
Finally, a good arcade racer is coming very soon thanks to Three Fields Entertainment.
It’s 2004 in the Northwest Suburbs of Illinois. My parents buy my 13-year-old self a copy of Burnout 3: Takedown, probably because I was a spoiled child that really wanted a new video game to play as I had played Fable probably 10 times without deviating from a melee-focused playstyle. Little did I know it would cement my love for racing games. The fast-paced arcade racing, the thrill of destroying your car, and that sick licensed soundtrack that always opened the menu with My Chemical Romance’s “I’m Not Okay (I Promise)” is quite possibly the perfect package.
It’s 2019 and there is a severe lack of quality arcade racing games. Sure, there was that Burnout Paradise remaster – which, by the way, still holds up and is very good – but nothing that really sticks out like Burnout 3: Takedown. At PAX East, I played Dangerous Driving, a spiritual successor to the Burnout series by Three Fields Entertainment, a studio founded by Alex Ward, Fiona Sperry, and Paul Ross. Ward and Sperry previously founded Criterion Games, the studio behind the Burnout series, in 1993. With that kind of name recognition, I had certain expectations. Luckily, Dangerous Driving seems to be the Burnout successor people have longed for.
I’ve probably said this in my reviews for The Crew 2 and Forza Horizon 4, but I’ll say it again: If there is anything a developer should get right in a racing game, it’s the driving. If the driving does not feel right in a racing game, why play the game at all? In this case, Dangerous Driving’s driving is exceptional. Honestly, I haven’t played an arcade racer that has felt as good as this, with the exception of Burnout Paradise Remastered, in years. I always felt like I was in control. Weaving through oncoming traffic and drifting through tight turns was both satisfying and thrilling.
This control also entails every mistake I made in a race. Dangerous Driving can be pretty challenging. The first two races I did were with slower cars, which eased me into the games simple yet fun mechanics. The controls are like most racers (I played on an Xbox controller): Right trigger accelerates, left trigger brakes, and the A button boosts; if you take a turn while pressing the right and left trigger together, you will drift. It’s nothing too crazy, which made it easy to just pick up and play.
“Dangerous Driving may not have me bopping to MCR, but it certainly scratches that arcade racing itch I’ve been yearning for the past 14 years.”
If driving is the most important facet of a racing game, its performance is a close second. Dangerous Driving exceeds at this as well. While I didn’t directly test it, the game seemed to run at 60 fps with hardly any noticeable hitches. It also looks great while doing so. It isn’t a technical showpiece like Forza but everything, including the crashes, look pretty good.
During my demo, I asked if I could try the fastest car. This also meant playing one of the harder tracks in the game. I crashed so much it was embarrassing. The good part about that is it never felt unfair. After each crash, I would learn from my mistake and by the end of that, I understood how I should have approached it. Even after doing so terribly, I wanted to try that race again. The replayability is there especially with the plethora of modes that are available.
I did run into some odd occurrences mostly when my car would respawn after a crash with this PAX East demo. In some cases, my car would spawn already being flipped in the air as if someone hit me again. It didn’t happen all the time but when it did, it was the only moment I felt like the game was against me. However, it isn’t such a nuisance that it took me completely out of the race. I was able to easily get back into the thick of it and get in first place. Having a game feel against you never feels great but at least I didn’t feel like I couldn’t get back in the race.
Dangerous Driving is exactly what Burnout fans have been waiting for. There are a myriad of game modes bringing a ton of diversity to the game. More impressive is its tight and responsive controls, a facet that has been missing from recent arcade racers. Even with the most difficult car to handle, I felt like I was in control despite my constant crashing. Dangerous Driving may not have me bopping to MCR, but it certainly scratches that arcade racing itch I’ve been yearning for the past 14 years.
Dangerous Driving will release for PC via the Epic Games Store, PS4, and Xbox One on April 9.