Pressure initially appears to be an arcadey vehicular combat game judging from screenshots and available gameplay footage. In reality, the action resembles a traditional vertical shooter as its focus centers on explosions and gunplay rather than tight competitive racing. Oddly enough, you are the only participant during each race and victory is achieved through survival instead of raw speed. Along the way enemies will throw grenades, spew toxic acid and desperately attempt to halt your progress. Pressure could be accurately described as a shoot-em-up which adopts vehicle skins. The game doesn’t necessarily fall short in any department but its level of mediocrity makes the gameplay feel uninspiring. Repetition is rife and re-used assets are apparent throughout.
The story in Pressure miraculously manages to be simplistic yet convoluted. An evil and dastardly Count Soap II has ruined your tranquil swimming opportunity by removing all the surrounding water. You don’t approve of this underhand tactic and take it upon yourself to eliminate Count Soap II’s minions and refill your riverbed. The plot while lacking continuity and appearing disjointed does have likeable characters who speak in a gibberish language like you would find in games such as The Sims. I was frankly confused how completing races affected and tied into the narrative. The story in most old school shooters tends to be lacklustre or non-existent but in Pressure this inclusion comes across as unnecessary and tacked on.
What separates Pressure from similar games is the overriding emphasis on fuel management. When you apply the accelerator your fuel guage rapidly decreases. This pressure meter depletes until you run out of gas which causes an instantaneous fail. Enemy vehicles eat away at your petrol levels in a bid to reduce your chances of reaching the finish line . All is not lost as you can replenish your fuel by reaching checkpoints and incapacitating AI cars. This system is proficiently designed which encourages fiery battles with explosions littered on and off track.
However, one anomalous mechanic is the ability to use a nitro boost without affecting your fuel usage. Traditionally, racing games have always limited the amount of nitro you can use. In Pressure, if you keep spamming the boost button you can achieve a consistent velocity increase. There is also a damage meter which you must keep under control to prevent your car from being inoperable. In a similar vein to the pressure gauge, this can be replenished. The damage meter makes you fairly vulnerable against heavily armed enemy vehicles.
The single player aspect features 30 races spanned across 3 worlds. In theory, this sounds like a decent amount of variation, but the tracks are uncannily similar. As a result, the gameplay becomes tedious and repetitive especially during a prolonged period. The scenery lacks imagination and could be more inventive. Perhaps locations that range from snowy mountainous hilltops to sunny, picturesque garden landscapes would add a much needed colour boost. After completing each event you are graded on your performance in regards to time taken, coins collected and vehicles destroyed.
Given this fact, you would expect a high level of replayability for those perfectionists seeking 100% completion ratio. Bizarrely, any mission which has been successfully beaten becomes locked during the Campaign mode. The only way to backtrack and retry previous races is through a Freeplay option. It is unbelievably perplexing why the developer, Chasing Carrots, would create a rating system perfectly designed for competitive replay value and restrict its practical use.
Pressure incorporates a substantial upgrade system that allows you to outfit your vehicle with improved weaponry, armour and other customizable attributes. Vast sums of money are rapidly deposited after a race which can be exchanged for monumental increases in your car’s robustness and firepower. Within the course of 4-5 missions, your vehicle becomes an overpowered behemoth. The end result is a drastic reversal in the game’s difficulty. When I first started on the normal preset, I found every race to be quite challenging and required additional attempts. After applying certain upgrades and tackling the 2nd area, I breezed through without any problems. The balance isn’t right and you cannot change the difficulty without restarting from scratch and losing your current progress.
The multiplayer in Pressure revolves around co-operative play with users working together to overcome herculean odds. One player can donate fuel if the other is almost running on an empty tank. Having two cars smashing into enemies heightens the fun factor and causes mass carnage. Annoyingly, these well thought out concepts are overshadowed by a dwindling community. I spent a considerable amount of time in the lobby waiting for others who rarely showed up. This is frustrating, because a highly populated online aspect would arguably be the game’s premier component. I can only hope the player base can improve but I’m not confident. Leaderboards provide information about your ranking and I managed to get into the top 200 within a few hours.
Pressure is technically sound for the most part except for minor issues which affect menu control. Navigating with the mouse is horrific because your cursor becomes unresponsive and lacks sensitivity. There are graphical quality options to set high/low details but no further explanation is given into the specifics. The game runs beautifully at 1920×1080 with a rock solid 60FPS and looks aesthetically pleasing. Controlling a vehicle with either the 360 controller or keyboard works flawlessly and is extremely responsive. A windowed mode setting is not supported out of the box.
Conclusion – Is It Worth Your Money?
Pressure is a release which doesn’t excel in any department. The gameplay can get notably repetitive because of the primitive level design and the story isn’t particularly interesting which adds very little to the experience. The multiplayer is a lost opportunity due to underpopulated servers, but Chasing Carrots deserves credit for including local co-op options which are usually neglected. All in all, I would avoid this particular title due to its generic and progressively boring nature. Pressure is currently available for £11.99/$14.99/€14.99.