A touch on the brake, a decisive steering and then the accelerator pushed to the maximum: just carry out the maneuver at the right time, just before the curve starts, and the car slides sideways on the shiny asphalt, in a drift breathtaking. Xenon Racer, the new videogame being developed by the Italian team 3DClouds is a distinctly arcade driving game, based on the tradition of accelerated and hyperkinetic racing of the 90s. Although the bright and clean aesthetics can remember that of Wipeout in this case you drive normal cars, on the road, and the gaming system is completely focused on the drift.
At the wheel of racing cars that shoot at over four hundred kilometers an hour we will have to show readiness, knowledge of the circuit and perfect turbo management. After the test phase held a few weeks ago on Steam, and awaiting release on all major platforms (PS4, Xbox One, Switch) set for March 26th, we " made a turn " on an almost complete version, and we are ready to tell you our impressions.
Racing to the Xenon
To some it will seem paradoxical for a title explicitly focused on the gameplay, but Xenon Racer dedicates a part of the creative effort also to the construction of the setting . The year in which the game takes place is 2031, and technological progress has already revolutionized the world of transport. In the city one regularly travels on cars with magnetic levitation, but for above all economic interests on a sporting level the "traditional" championships, courses on asphalt and classic cars have survived. At least, until today. The federation that controls motor sports has announced that things must change, a year of pause has been taken to revise the regulations and technical standards, and has foreseen a restart " floating ".
During this sort of interregnum the manufacturers have decided to organize a final championship of their own, unofficial but not even clandestine: a perfect opportunity not to lose the attention of the public but also to collect telemetric data on the use of Xenon as a gas propulsive for the cars of tomorrow.
This introduction should suffice to make you understand the approach of the development team, which despite being at its second production has certainly not faced development in a superficial or unambitious way. The 3DClouds guys, on the contrary, seemed to be very aware of it, with a beautiful company vision and a long-term project.
The team is fairly young, and to start their own adventure, they threw themselves on a genre with which the members of the group they had a good familiarity. Many of the Milanese students come from Milestone, a software house as we know fully focused on the development of racing games. All-Star Fruit Racing and Xenon Racer are therefore a great way to start their own journey accumulate technology and know-how exportable even in future productions, and begin to make themselves known to the public. Do not think, however, that 3DClouds wants to rest on its laurels: after Xenon another trio of games will arrive within the next year, and in the long term the goal is to "colonize" other videogames genres.
Let's go back to Xenon Racer . We were talking about the care put into the project, evidenced by creative choices of impact, such as the collaboration with Mostercat for the creation of the twenty pieces that will make up the soundtrack. The Canadian label is the same one that created the Rocket League musical carpet. The names you read (Pegboard Nerds, Rameses B and Melano, Grant, FWLR, Tokyo Machine and Noisestorm) are well attested in the electronic scene, and we can assure you that the beat of the tracks is compelling and perfectly suited to the futuristic context of the production.
In this regard, it is clear that the Xenon Racer sci-fi draws inspiration from that of other such greats, while retaining a hint of Italian pride: the look of all the cars was in fact curated by Marcello Raeli, designer who collaborated – among others – with Subaru and Ferrari.
Coming to the distinctly playful issues, Xenon Racer looks like a purely arcade racing, all based on drift. To trigger the "slip" in corners you can use the handbrake, but also a very comfortable double touch on the accelerator button.
Physics is obviously " stylized ", the times of drifting extend to become unreal, but this is the genuinely amusing aspect of the driving model, which openly refers to classics like Outrun or Ridge Racer . To beat artificial intelligence (without any elastic effect), especially at high difficulty levels, it will be necessary to carefully study the tracks, memorize the curves, and above all optimize the use of the turbo, which is recharged by drifting or collecting the appropriate power- up scattered around the track. There are three tanks of Xenon that you can fill and use when you prefer, possibly even accumulating the effects: in Xenon Racer you can superimpose the turbo three times to get dizzying speeds.
The sensations in driving have pleasantly struck us: Xenon is a very fast and light driving game without too many complications and also suitable for completely disengaged games (even in split-screen). Obviously it is absolutely not suitable for those looking for even a modicum of realism and a so-called sim-cade model.
From a long-distance standpoint, there remains the endurance of the career, or even of the vehicle personalization system. Completing different objectives and standing out in all the tracks ( there are 20 different ones, which can also be tackled in the reverse version ) you can unlock tires, ailerons and liveries with which to customize the cars, obviously modifying their performance on the track.
However, our test was too short to really assess the impact of these changes. We can say that the aesthetic customization system, on the other hand, works well, also due to the merits of the exaggerated and pleasant design " tamarro " of the cars. Even the online will be analyzed in the review phase, but we already know that collisions will be deactivated online, and the challenge against other human pilots will be played only on time. A choice made perhaps to avoid some problems with the game engine, the Unreal Engine 4, not always at ease with racing games . The 3DClouds guys have used it with good competence, even if some slight problems remain in loading textures, obtaining the 60 FPS on PS4 PRO and Xbox One X ( Xenon will turn instead to 30 on the other consoles ).
In any case the title will officially arrive on the market within ten days, so we will soon give you a more detailed opinion on our local production.