The highway to the Danger Zone is, in fact, an actual highway this time.
Danger Zone 2 is, in everything but name, a direct successor to the beloved Crash mode in Burnout Revenge, in the very best of ways. This colorful game of automotive destruction is what I’d hoped for when last year’s disappointing Danger Zone set its action in a joyless grey box of a warehouse. It laudibly brings your cars – yes, plural this time – back above ground and out onto realistic closed-circuit tracks where they can really perform. And by “perform” I mean “intentionally and horrifyingly wreck, twisting your car into a flaming mass of twisted metal and causing 80-car pile-ups with your Smashbreaker explosions.”
The Burnout Crash mode formula has always been brilliant, and it’s every bit as enjoyable here as it ever was.
It’s what Burnout’s awesome Crash mode has always been about: arcade-y racing leading to on-purpose crashes at the end. It all ramps up to a grand finale, in that if you wreck enough passing cars by conventional means you’ll be awarded a Smashbreaker – basically a bomb inside your car that sends explosive shockwaves out to cause even more damage. After you trigger it you can guide your flaming car – in mid-air – toward other cars or power-ups that let you keep the crashes going. When the dust settles, the damage is tallied up and you get a score reflecting your destructive potency. The formula has always been brilliant, and it’s every bit as enjoyable here as it ever was.
The change of scenery is the best improvement Danger Zone 2 makes over its predecessor. The bright sunshine and open roads allow this sequel to stretch out, and the Crash Test scenarios take advantage of it. Not only does Danger Zone 2 feel decidedly faster than its predecessor – and the visuals do a very good job of conveying that sense of speed – but many of the junctions now have a sometimes-lengthy run-up to the explosive crash sequence at the end, and welcome secondary objectives are built in to liven up that extra driving time. You might need to crash a certain number of cars on your way to the Danger Zone, get there using continuous turbo boost, etc. Trying to accomplish those adds an additional layer of challenge and fun, which in turn will give you drastically better chances of scoring gold or platinum awards on each track.
Sure, the physics are a bit exaggerated, but it errs on the side of fun.
Power-ups return, requiring you to think carefully about where to aim your car both before and after triggering your Smashbreaker explosion in each crash junction. Grabbing cash pickups quickly increases your score, while hitting the Smashbreaker icon gives you a precious extra chance to detonate your car. Each of the 23 outdoor junctions (29 if you count the six training tracks) has enough challenge and layout variety that earning a top platinum ranking probably won’t happen on the first try, and will require you to think strategically about how to approach each traffic puzzle. The built-in leaderboard from the first Danger Zone happily returns, letting you try and one-up your friends and thus adding a bit of organic replayability to each junction on top of simply earning a better medal.
Danger Zone 2 also ups the number of drivable cars to eight, most notably including an F1 race car (again, hi Burnout!) and a plodding, Hulk-like semi truck that can bash through any other vehicle. And they’re deformable now, too. Sure, the physics are a bit exaggerated, but it errs on the side of fun to let you send traffic-checked cars flying comically to the left or right, depending on if you press the Square or Circle button, respectively, while near them.
Of course I also want more tracks. I’ll pretty much always want more tracks.
This sequel even manages to sneak in a bit of the rest of Burnout despite only technically reviving Crash mode: some crash junction run-ups, as well as the three bonus tracks that unlock after you finish the core 23, effectively use Burnout’s Burning Lap mechanic. Basically, you need to go as fast as possible, turbo boost and all, as cleanly as possible. It augments Danger Zone 2 better as part of the run-up to a crash junction, because when it’s serving as the sole goal of the three bonus tracks it’s just not as much fun without the ability to crash. (That’s exactly how I felt about it back in Burnout, too.)
Other than that, I’m thrilled to say that, unlike the first Danger Zone, all I can do is nitpick this one. Sure, I’d love to be able to replay my best crashes and then have editing controls to position camera angles and upload videos of them to social media, but there’s no such tool here. Also, menus look like unfinished placeholders thanks to their super-plain fonts. Oh, and of course I want more tracks. I’ll pretty much always want more tracks.
While it’s a shame that Danger Zone 2 only runs at 900p/30fps on standard Xbox One and 1080p/30fps on PS4, 1080p/60fps or 4K/30fps options are offered if you’re on an Xbox One X or PS4 Pro (alternatively native 4K/30fps on X, checkerboarded 4k/30fps on Pro), or of course a capable PC. But at least when you fail and need to reload to try a crash junction again, those loading times are quick.