September 29, 2007 // 1:27 pm
- PixelJunk Racers is a neat little game that takes the basic concepts of slot car racing and applies them to a multitude of minigame-like events that you can play alone or against friends. There are a good number of different events, though the addition of a few more tracks and online multiplayer would have made it a much longer-lasting collection.
The controls in Racers are simple. You can use either the D pad or the analog stick to change lanes, and the L2 or R2 triggers can be used to control how fast you're moving. You don't have direct steering control, and so you can swap between lanes only one at a time. This control scheme is applied across 10 different tracks and 32 different game types, which gives you a lot of different potential combinations. But that doesn't prevent the game's solo tournament mode, which gradually unlocks tracks and game types as you play, from feeling monotonous for sticking to the same handful of tracks early on.
Some events are basic races to the finish line. Others include stuff like "the munchies," which is accompanied by this helpful life lesson: "Eat cars to stay alive for as long as possible!" Still others have you blowing up your car like a balloon to charge it with forward movement; dodging cars until you pass enough to turn into a fireball, at which point you have the power to ram right through the opposing vehicles; and so on. Most of the cars you see on the track with you are simple drones that are there for you to dodge, blow up, or eat.
In addition to the solo tournament, you can set up custom groupings of the events for local multiplayer matches. These can get nicely hectic, and that's why it's a shame that there isn't any online support. However, a score-attack option lets you compete against other players via leaderboards, which is decent.
Visually, PixelJunk Racers is a very simple-looking game, and that's by design. It moves quickly when it needs to and looks just fine, overall. The audio is similarly basic, with a few different music tracks, an announcer with a handful of phrases, and the sounds of actual racing, explosions, and such. Overall, it comes across as minimalist and nice, as opposed to lazy and plain.
PixelJunk Racers is a game for PlayStation 3 owners who have a bunch of controllers and friends that are willing to race with them. If you're a one-man race crew, you'll probably get bored fast, but if you have a team of players that are into the whole "party game" thing, you'll probably have plenty of fun with PixelJunk Racers.