A couple of Criterion founders abandoned the EA owned studio back in 2014 to go their own way, forming the unenigmatically named Three Fields Entertainment. So far they've released the wonky Dangerous Golf and the entirely unnoticed Lethal VR. But no one wanted those. What people want from anyone with the word "Criterion" in their resume is some more Burnout. And ideally, some more Burnout 3: Takedown. Hey, guess what Three Fields just announced is coming out next month? And they're calling it Danger Zone [official site].
Wow, these people are not good at names.
Meanwhile, ask me for one of my favourite gaming memories. Go on...
"John, tell us one of your favourite gaming memories!"
Oh, since you asked. Burnout 3's Crash Mode. I've never once played it, but I've watched so very, very much of it. Back a million years ago I once lived with Gamer Network's Jon Hicks, and so many splendid evenings were whiled away lying on the couch watching the beanbag-based Jonty chock up idiotic scores as he smashed cars into one another in the PS2 game's masterful mode. The aim was to drive your car into a busy junction and cause the most outlandish car crashes imaginable. It was gloriously messy, explodey and silly, and kept me ridiculously entertained even without picking up a controller. So I'm rather delighted that two of the people responsible are aiming to recreate that aspect of the game for modern machines.
This is Fiona Sperry and Alex Ward, who respectively were head of the company and director of design at the time Burnout 3 was released, back in 2004. They were GM and creative director for Burnout Paradise too. These two are car-smashing royalty, so while the unfinished feel of Dangerous Golf isn't an inspiring milestone, Danger Zone (oh God that name) is far more in their wheelhouse.
It promises all the bits and bobs that made BO3's version so compelling, with bonuses to pick up, lorries to blow up, and high scores to rack up. And that's it, it's worth noting - there isn't a larger game surrounding it here, it's purely a smash and grab. Extra good news is they built it on PC, then reworked it for PS4, so we're not getting the port for once.
The £10 price and incredibly short time from announcement to release (Eurogamer report that Three Fields started it in December) does suggest to me this isn't going to be a massive game. They say it'll feature 20 different "scenarios" in which the crash-testing excuse for car crashing will take place, but I wonder if this might prove a little light. I do hope not.
Built in Unreal, the shots look very pretty. Here's hoping they can recapture the same daft fun. We'll find out at some point next month. Meanwhile, I've been trying to think of some even more bland, forgettable titles they could have chosen for such a bright, explosive game, to see if it's even possible:
No, I think they win with "Danger Zone".