People say I’m pretty good at multi-tasking, especially when I’m watching football on TV whilst playing – and dominating – in games with friends on the Xbox One. And this skill of doing two things at once could come in handy for the latest release from developers Chasing Carrots, Pressure Overdrive, which combines both driving and shooting. Is Pressure Overdrive what the shoot’em up genre needs right now, and more importantly, can I handle the pressure of doing both things simultaneously?
The villainous Count Soap is on a rampage, stealing water wherever he can in order to help power an Uber-Spa; a passion project conjured up by him and the Dyna-Mites – basically robotic Minions. He must be stopped and the only way to do that is to join “La Resistance”, jump into your steam buggy and take matters into your own hands. And that’s the story in a nutshell; there isn’t an awful lot to it in truth, apart from a couple of short cut-scenes that are a bit silly, but not all that humorous.
In case you’re wondering, Pressure Overdrive is a vertically scrolling, twin-stick, top-down shoot-em up, driving game; I can’t simplify that any further I’m afraid. One stick is used to drive the steam buggy, whilst the other aims and fires your weapon of choice at the enemies who are trying to stop you from getting to the end of the level. You’ll need to keep driving, avoid the big red bullets and blasts fired your way, and make it to the end. That’s the basis of the 30 regular Campaign levels and although it sounds easy enough, the enemies come in droves, wearing down your health bit by bit, hit by hit. One small noticeable problem start is that bullets, on rare occasions, fly straight past yourself or an enemy, without even causing slight damage, almost like they’ve ghosted through the vehicles. It’s not game ruining, but it really shouldn’t happen.
The Campaign is split into three worlds, with each world progressively making the levels tougher by introducing track-based hazards such as TNT barrels, lava-filled chasms and water to drive off the track into. Within the three sections though, it’s hard to tell one level from another for the most part. Once you’ve seen one lava filled level, you’ve seen them all and even just the minutes it takes to finish a level can become a tad monotonous.
Being able to use different weapons is possible, as you can buy a selection of buggy upgrades – should you have enough coins of course. These are earned via destroying enemies, so it’s key to take out as many as possible. In terms of primary weapons, they can range from firing regular bullets and shotgun style ones, to a flamethrower and a weapon that shoots out saw discs. Aside from the main weapon, there are four other slots to fill and these could be filled with a speed booster, a shock attack, a magnet, a C4 distributer etc. I like the fact that the developers assign these added weapons/attacks to the triggers and bumpers, because it’d be a nightmare to use these on the face buttons. The more conservative players can shove upgrades on to improve the hull, thus increasing the health bar, or purchase an add-on to up the pressure which allows you to fire for longer.
Pressure Overdrive is quite sparse on giving out the coins to buy stuff though and so I had to spend them really carefully, meaning I couldn’t try weapons and upgrades on a whim; this pushed me towards keeping the same add-ons for the most part. If you don’t like a purchase though, you can sell it for a small loss on Normal difficulty and no loss on Easy, with no sale at all on Hard.
The only saving grace from a quicker onset of boredom in the standard levels are the enemies; with more and more being added in as you progress . There isn’t loads of variety, but seeing the likes of massive cannon firing tanks, tiny bullet spraying cars, three bearded men bathing in a vehicle (really) and an enemy type that drains your pressure bar, to name a few, is enough for me.
After every ten levels, there’s a boss level and these are easily the best parts of the entire game; leaving you to interpret the enemy’s attack patterns and discovering how on earth you’re going to destroy the much larger contraption in your path. They can take a couple of attempts to grasp the route to success, but the dismantling of the bosses is really enjoyable. I am always left satisfied after taking one down and must give kudos to the designs of the intimidating behemoths.
Completing the Campaign mode shouldn’t take much more than a couple of hours, and then you’re left with Freeplay and Endless. Freeplay is utterly pointless as it just allows you to replay Campaign levels, which would be alright if you weren’t still restricted by the amount of coins you had at the time you originally played the level of choice. Why not just unlock all the things in the shop? It’s a strange decision.
As for the Endless mode, it’s a good way to see how long you can last as the game throws deadlier enemies your way the further you progress. After each ‘Wave’, you’ll park up in a little hut and spin a slot machine of upgrades, from which you can then pick one to add to the buggy. Due to the random nature, it could stop on all of the same upgrade or ones that you’ve already added, which is a bit of a shame.
And that’s all Pressure Overdrive has to offer; a relatively short Campaign with a bare bones story, a Freeplay that is quite restrictive and a random, but enjoyable, test of skill mode in the form of Endless. There’s a tad more longevity for those interested in local co-op as all the modes allow for a second player to participate, however as a solo act, it could do with a bit extra. I do really enjoy the challenge of the boss battles though and the general levels are fun for a short while. If the upgrades were more readily available to allow the chance to test different buggy setups out, then Pressure Overdrive would have kept things a bit fresher.
To be fair to Chasing Carrots, they’ve not overpriced Pressure Overdrive too much, but if you want to give it a go, I’d say to wait for a sale. There are better twin stick shooters and driving games out there for your hard earned cash.