Set for release on 26th March, Xenon Racer seems set to fill that Ridge Racer shaped hole in my life.
2006 was the year that we were last treat to a proper Ridge Racer game on a home console. That’s more than 12 years ago, which anyone will agree is too long. I’m honestly surprised that it has taken so long for someone to copy the formula.
That’s seemingly what Xenon Racer does, and I honestly don’t care that there’s hardly a shred of originality about it. I’ve been spending some time with the game in its current closed beta, and I’ve been pleasantly surprised that it looks, sounds and plays like Ridge Racer games of old. In other words, you spend most of your time sideways, and your accelerator is pretty much constantly planted to the floor.
Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, they say, and it’d be hard for Xenon Racer developer 3DClouds.it to deny that it has based its new game on Bandai Namco’s classic arcade racing series when even the engine sounds bring it to memory. It may be set in the future, but Xenon Racer has that same colourful and joyful presentation that Ridge Racer games generally have. And also an announcer that talks over the action in a similar manner.
Only two tracks are available in the closed beta. Miami is very much your typical Ridge Racer affair, letting you race by the seaside before taking the action to the city streets for a short while. Tokyo, on the other hand, is much more challenging, and has more going on scenery-wise. I’ve had fun drifting my way through both of them in the four vehicles that are available. All of which can be tweaked by visiting the game’s garage.
With its gameplay obviously geared more towards you taking corners sideways at high-speed rather than making ample use of the brake, it is weird that Xenon Racer has a handbrake button. It can be used to easily get your car sideways, but tapping the brake or releasing the accelerator before slamming back on it also does the trick. Needless to say, you’re not going to get on well with Xenon Racer if you’re hell-bent on driving sensibly.
About the only way in which Xenon Racer seemingly differentiates itself from Ridge Racer is that you can actually destroy your car. Although sustaining critical damage doesn’t take you out of a race. Hit the side of the track or your competitors too often and you’ll simply respawn after a few seconds, which can be enough to put you at the back of the pack. It makes using boost fraught with danger, as taking corners just after making use of a burst of speed can be very tricky indeed.
Xenon Racer‘s drift mechanics don’t quite measure up to those of Ridge Racer‘s at this moment in time. Changing direction, for example, can be a bit more troublesome. But with nearly two more months before the game’s release, there’s time for things to be tweaked and improved. Even if nothing changes, though, I’m quite excited to play the full product, as after being deprived of a new Ridge Racer game, Xenon Racer really does appear to be the next best thing.
The Xenon Racer PC closed beta runs until 11pm on 3rd February. Want to get in on the action? Follow @Game_Spew on Twitter, as we’ll be giving more codes away to gain access to it.