XGIII: Extreme G Racing (GameCube) Review

By Adam Riley 03.02.2003

Nintendo's F-Zero has a lot to answer for. Before it was released, there weren't many futuristic racing games around, and certainly there were no high-quality ones. But Psygnosis suddenly came on the scene with its spin on the theme, the ever-popular WipeOut, followed closely by Acclaim and its franchise Extreme-G. The first game came exclusively to the Nintendo 64, and wowed millions of people with its super-fast racing and excellent graphics (something F-Zero X had forsaken in order to achieve maximum speed). The only minor complaint was that it was too fast and controlling the jet-bikes was tricky. This wasn’t rectified for the N64 sequel XG-2 – in fact it was almost as if the developers had been hit by a bout of amnesia whilst the game was in production. But thankfully matters have been resolved for the advent of the next-generation Extreme-G III!

Here's the official line to explain the story: "Extreme G3 is a gravity-defying racing game. After climbing onto one of 12 supercharged, fully armed bikes and engaging your protective shield, you're off on an extreme racing challenge. Race underwater, beneath the Earth's surface, through cratered canyons, and out into space as you play through Extreme G3's nine race circuits". This about sums up the entire game – no proper storyline, just out-and-out racing action. Did anyone really expect more?

People were wowed by the extravagant graphical nature of the original N64 outing. Well, if you loved it back then, be prepared to grab onto something solid, or else you'll most likely be blown away by the eye-candy that's delivered on the next-generation of consoles. Almost in an arrogant manner, the game pans around the race-track before the shenanigans begin. Loops, twists, daring turns...all are captured in a beautifully rendered sense, and to top it all off, these are actually the quality of the in-game graphics rather than being a fancy cut-scene. But of course if you have time to verify this whilst racing then I can only assume you're in last position by now! The bane of many gamers' lives, 'pop-up', thankfully isn't anywhere to be found. On some tracks, when you reach the peak of a climb you can (for a split second only, obviously!) see for what seems like miles into the distance perfectly clearly.

As for the bikes, whilst technically sound, you will hardly notice them whilst trying your best to stay in the lead for just one more race. The particle effects surrounding some of the explosive ammunition you can reel off are astounding, and the trails of smoke left by both the bikes and missiles are truly delightful touches. And, if that wasn't enough, in a superb trick to make races appear faster, if the turbo button is held down for a significant period of time, the screen begins to warp and you can literally feel yourself tense up, praying that you...don't...crash...this...time! *Phew!* This is a wonderful achievement by the XG team, and one can only wonder what tricks they have up their sleeves for the upcoming XG-RA.

Dolby Surround Sound is supported in this game, which is definitely recommended for the full experience. This is especially effective whilst boosting, as (like in Burnout) in those fews seconds as the screen begins to warp, the music and background noises start to fade out and the engine sound increases its pitch slightly – all of which manages to get your adrenaline rushing, making you push down on the buttons even harder, as if doing so will squeeze just one more ounce of juice out of your already-screaming engine. As is often the case nowadays, the in-game music is provided by outside artists rather than in-house musicians, in this case the player can indulge themselves with rhythmic tunes from the Ministry of Sound. This, plus the devastatingly loud sound effects for the weapons, leave the player gasping for more…A sure sign of a job well done on the part of the developer!

There is a tactical element to the game, despite what you may first believe. This is because in order to win races you must boost, yet when you boost, your vehicle’s protective shield begins to lose energy (á la F-Zero) – therefore you must judge just how regularly you can afford to boost before you a) crash and burn, b) make it to the shield regenerator sections along the track. This boosting element is vital to master, as the other form of catching up, via weapon usage, is a huge letdown. The speed factor means that most weapons are quite useless unless you have the most perfect aiming abilities in the world, your initial gun barely affects opponents, and the helpful homing-missiles are too few in number to do the damage they should do. This is quite a massive flaw in the game, especially considering before its official release the developers claimed that this aspect was one of the main draws along with the game’s speed. Luckily, the handling of the bikes is sufficient enough to help make up for the weak weapons, allowing you a good shot at finishing ahead of the 11 other maniacal racers.

Three games modes: XG Career (solo), XG Team Career (two-player co-operative) and Arcade Mode (solo or 1-4 multiplayer), a very steep learning curve, and four different speed levels (250G, 500G, 750G and 1000G) should result in a long game. In this case, though, it doesn't. With only ten tracks (nine plus one hidden) and the weak weapons reducing the fun factor in multiplayer races, you will certainly tire of this game far too quickly. More is expected of XG-RA...

Cubed3 Rating

8/10
Rated 8 out of 10

Great - Silver Award

Rated 8 out of 10

Fans of the series will be pleased to know the game is back from the grave. Those that prefer the likes of F-Zero would be advised to at least give it a try. Either way I wouldn't recommend buying this title, unless you find it really cheap somewhere. Otherwise rent it instead...you won't regret it!

Developer

Acclaim

Publisher

Acclaim

Genre

Driving

Players

4

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  8/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  9/10 (2 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   

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