Sometimes it’s great to be under Pressure
I love nice surprises, and indie racer/shmup Pressure is certainly one of those. With enemy vehicles all around you, all guns blazing in your general direction, you’d think that picking bullets out of your teeth would be all that’s left of your career in living.
And yet here you come, bounding through the various valleys and halfpipes the game throws your way, gunning into the back of baddies like nobody’s business and knocking them for six, all the while a huge grin on your face as you once again survive under the most ridiculous of situations. The game may be called Pressure, and you may be surrounded by potential death, yet you’ll still spring forth from the madness again and again, happy to blast on with the next round of mayhem.
The evil Count Soap II has stolen all the water from the lake, and has syphoned it all into his uber-spa complex. Morgan and his robot dog set off on their trust vehicle of doom to catch up with the count and force him to give the water stuff back, if he wouldn’t mind.
Pressure looks like a racer, and calls itself a racer, but really it’s a shooter. You’re not actually racing anyone most of the time, and you’ve got your finger held down on the shoot button 100 percent of the time.
Not that that’s a bad thing at all, as Pressure is a fantastic shmup. As you bomb down a variety of pathways, enemies attack from in front and behind, swarming the screen and genuinely looking like they might overwhelm you at any second.
Not that they ever will. Your own vehicle is ridiculously overpowered to the point where you can easily wipe seven or eight enemy racers off the screen in seconds, and still have enough boost power left to zip off a ramp and teeter along a high-rise cliff-top. This power-driven side to Pressure is what gives the entire game its real oomph, and kept me blasting through level and level with no sign of stopping.
It’s a good thing that there’s always enemies around to kill, as this is where the “pressure” bit comes in. As you drive, your pressure bar is constantly going down, and if it hits zero it’s all over. By killing enemies and crossing checkpoints, you can build the pressure back up and keep on truckin’.
Along the way, there are upgrades to purchase using the coins you collect. It’s not completely obvious which upgrades are better than others, and which you should be grabbing first, and this seems counter-intuitive. However, it slowly but surely becomes one of Pressure‘s best features – mixing and matching combinations of weapons, rams and shields without any explanation of what works and what doesn’t means you’re forced to experiment, and this is a wonderful angle to throw at players.
And to round it all off, Pressure just always feels right. It handles like a dream, just as a shooter/racer should, and frustration is a rare occurrence. It’s just fun through and through – if you like watch stuff go boom, and enjoy boosting over and over again through rifts of enemy lines, then you’re going to want to play this.
The game’s personality is a key talking point too, with bouncy 3D comic visuals and characters that are reminiscent of the stylish Joe Danger series, and pack in just as many off-the-cuff jokes. It’s easy to like a game when it feels a silly as this.
Pressure‘s interface could do with a minor tweaking, mind. I found I had to keep flicking my eyes back and forth around the screen as I attempted to keep track of my pressure levels, my health levels, and whether my secondary weapon was ready to fire again, all the while keeping my racer on track. Perhaps slightly more eye-catching icons and interface graphics would help.
You could also accuse Pressure of not featuring enough variety in level design, although your claim would be teetering on the brink of truth. Every time it seemed like I was about to get bored of the game’s level design, it would suddenly throw a couple of new enemies and a slightly different setting my way, keeping my antsiness at bay.
But you know what? Throw in both local and online co-op/competitive multiplayer, and you’ll barely even notice these slight niggles. Pressure is a blast, and makes for the perfect weekend video game venture.