Burnout 3: Takedown is widely considered to not only be the best game in the Burnout series, but one of the best arcade racers ever, and since then developers have been trying to recreate the magic that Burnout brought to the table. Most have been taking elements from the 2004 game while putting their own spin on the genre, but Dangerous Driving is pretty much just a reproduction of Takedown.
That's for good reason too because the team at Three Fields Entertainment is made up of former Criterion developers who helped with the Burnout series in the past (hence why they've made Danger Zone, a spiritual sequel to Burnout's Crash Mode). We haven't had a Burnout game that's hit quite the same heights in recent years either, so if a game wants to try and replicate Takedown one-and-a-half decades after the original release, then all power to them.
The trouble is that in so many ways it's a direct replica in terms of format, as you have the world tour of events that take you around the globe, there's a slow-motion mode to move your car after you crash (Danger Time), and even the loading screens are pretty much directly lifted from Takedown. There are differences in terms of features, we should make clear, but it's also evident that this is entirely dedicated to being a spiritual sequel to the classic game, especially when you compare the two UIs side-by-side.
There are a whole bunch of game modes to choose from within Dangerous Driving's single-player mode, including a classic Race, Face Off against one opponent where you try and win their car, Shakedown to beat a course in a certain time, and Pursuit, among many others. Aside from Shakedown - which is on your own - the beauty of these is that they all encourage you to be aggressive with other drivers, as causing crashes sets them back and also gives you boost.
You experience all of these game modes while racing in the single-player Dangerous Driving Tour, going through various classes like sedans, SUVs, and hypercars. There's plenty of variety in there since each offers its own challenges (Pursuit requires you to chase criminals in a cop car, for example), so the Dangerous Driving Tour should keep you entertained for a while.
That's also because there are a lot of tracks to see, from hot pursuit under the Northern Lights to speeding through tunnels on the side of a mountain. The track variety is complemented by the excellent visuals as well, bringing these realistic areas to life with great lighting, although we could've done without the low sun on multiple tracks which made it hard to see anything. All of these levels are prescriptive tracks with plenty of bends and turns and environmental challenges too, including sweet jumps to send you or your enemies flying.
The same variety can't be said of the cars themselves, as experienced racing fans won't get the same pages upon pages of vehicle choice as they might expect elsewhere. Each class has a handful of car choices that are then unlocked as you progress, and as for customisation, this takes a bit of a backseat since you can only randomise your paints.
This isn't exactly a game just for experienced racing fans though; this is an arcade racer for casual fans too. This is probably why the car handling feels so simple and takes a lot of getting used to since the car turns so suddenly and violently when moving the analog stick, and L2 (brake) enables drifting around corners as well. It's easy to learn, but hard to master, and you'll often find yourself crashing into the barriers at the sides of the road as you get used to it.
Of course, the satisfaction comes mostly from the intensity that this brand of racer provides, i.e. the near misses, crash escapes, and making your fellow racers crash and burn by ramming them with your own vehicle. That same feeling has remained unscathed from Burnout, and we're grateful that the same speed and intensity is back once more.
That's why the crashes can sometimes be a bit more a pain than we'd like. Of course, crashing shouldn't be an easy getaway, but back in Burnout 3 you crashed and then were immediately placed in the race again, while here there's a longer loading time and wait before getting back on the track, killing the momentum while also posing more of a risk to your race. It's a real dent to the velocity the game maintains elsewhere.
Right now there's only the Dangerous Driving Tour, as online multiplayer is a free patch which will launch within the first month of release. It's a shame that's not included in the full package, but there's plenty in the single-player to keep fans entertained while they wait, especially those who want to get all the Gold and Platinum medals available.
While there's still the same joy in grinding metal with other racers on the track, Dangerous Driving doesn't quite recapture Burnout 3's magic, despite the variety in terms of the game modes available to you. These comparisons are inevitable considering the stark similarities between the two, although fans of arcade racers will probably still get a kick out of racing through the single-player portion.