Xenon Racer review for PS4, Xbox One, Switch

Platform: PS4
Also On: Xbox One, PC, Switch
Publisher: Soedesco
Developer: 3DClouds
Medium: Digital/Disc
Players: 1-8
Online: Yes

It?s rare that a game?s premise inadvertently tells you everything you need to know about a game, but Xenon Racer does it. The game is set in the near future, in a world where flying vehicles have become the norm and racing federations have paused for a year while they transition to the new reality. For this pause year, a group of rogue racers have come together to race each other using the old way of driving.

In other words, Xenon Racer is a game that asks you to imagine a world where flying cars are a thing, that goes to the trouble of creating a futuristic-looking world…and that sticks you with plain old race cars and basically ignores its premise instead of giving you a futuristic racing game.

I know, I know: the cars are equipped with nitro boosts (which can be earned by running over glowing rectangles on the ground, in addition to drifting), and, as the description helpfully informs you, they run on xenon gas and electricity. Everything also has a metallic sheen, a la F-Zero or Wipeout, to signify that the game is definitely, clearly set in the future.

The thing is (or, I suppose, the things are): a) nitro boosts are super common in racing games, futuristic or not; b) it doesn?t really matter what the cars run on, since this is a video game and I can?t remember the last time I played a racing game where I had to keep an eye on the fuel gauge or had to concern myself with running out of gas; and c) in addition to giving you futuristic tracks on which to race, you were racing actual flying cars in F-Zero and Wipeout, not just gleaming F-1 racecars.

Unfortunately, Xenon Racer isn?t much better or more interesting if you view it through the prism of a traditional (rather than futuristic) racer, either. The Grand Prix mode features some pretty steep difficulty spikes, and forces you to grind your way through the same races over and over again in order to earn upgrades. There are also quick races and time trials and practice modes and whatnot, but as far as I can tell, you can only race on the tracks you?ve already beaten, which means that if you want to practice on the tracks you?re trying (and failing) to beat, you?re out of luck.

The cars kind of handle well, I guess, but given that we?re talking about a standard racing game, why wouldn?t they? It?s good that there?s nothing egregiously terrible here, but at the same time, given that the game isn?t doing anything all that interesting or crazy, simply being fine constitutes the bare minimum of achievement, rather than a praiseworthy accomplishment.

Because that?s what Xenon Racer is, really: fine. If you simply want a racer that doesn?t do anything beyond the bare minimum, it?ll do, but if you want anything more than that, you?ll have to look elsewhere.

Soedesco provided us with a Xenon Racer PS4 code for review purposes.

Grade: C