Extreme G Racing
Review of Extreme G Racing
To be honest, I wasn’t anticipating too much out of Extreme G. I enjoyed the Nintendo versions of the game but wasn’t expecting the serious upgrade that this title delivered.
While the overall menu layout and lettering fonts and art style are very reminiscent of the WipEout series, the game really more reminded of an excellent though overlooked PSX title called Starwinder.
The game plays out in all different regions of the world and puts each of their specific geographic environments to good use. Hugh courses have been constructed around and through the varied surroundings. One course will have you slicing through glaciers while another dips your under the ocean. The track layouts are truly staggering at times and some of the drops may be vertigo or vomit inducing.
Control of the bikes is thankfully right on the money. At such a high rate of speed, sluggish controls would have killed this game big time. Negotiating through many of the courses requires pinpoint accuracy and hair-trigger reaction and the controller response is definitely up to the task. To aid drivers in their need for speed, the bikes come equipped with left and right air brakes and acceleration. No wussy brakes in this game folks. There is also a turbo button that will give the bikes a jolt of an extra 200 or so mph in the blink of an eye!
Of course, just be able to drive fast would lose its luster after a while. To assist gamers in their quest for victory, bikes can also be equipped with a plethora of weapons and various upgrades. Standard weaponry comes in the form of a Mini-Gun. This little beauty spits out rapid-fire blasts that cripple opponent’s shields and will ultimately blow them up. Not satisfied with that? Well, once you start winning some races and collecting some bucks you can stroll over to the XG Mall and pick up some serious firepower. Rockets, blasters, mines, leeches and rail guns were some of my favorites. Of course the more potent the weapon the more cash one can expect to spend. Some weapons, like the Mini-Gun do not lock onto the opponents. You need to line them up and fire away…that coupled with the fact that there are so many curves, hills and bends makes taking out a rival extremely difficult. Some people may prefer the defensive approach and opt for the upgrades like a more powerful engine, a shield or weapon scope or shield/weapon boosters. These little beauties come in handy because each time you use a weapon you drain it. To replenish your weapons (and your shields) you have to run the side of the track at specific locations (purple energy for weapons and green for shields) to get replenished. Needless to say, haphazard use will get you in hot water in no time.
To be able to purchase weapons and upgrades you need to place in a certain order in each race. Winning will of course net you the largest sum of cash, but placing first in each is no easy task. The courses you race on are broken up into Leagues. Each League except for the last one consists of three races on three different tracks. You are given a place that you must finish in for each race. Failure to do this will have sponsors deserting and thus prematurely ending your illustrious career.
There are eleven opponents plus you racing around the tracks at once and I found the enemy AI to be quite impressive. They will cut you off, bump you, and set you up in order to get you in line to use their weapons.
Strategically, the best road to victory lies in how to use the turbo boost and weapons efficiently. Since most tracks only have one location to recharge the shields, using all of the turbo early in a race will get you in trouble. Not only because you’ll be out of turbo, but since the boost drains the power from your shields, you will be virtually defenseless. Modest “blips” on the turbo button is the way to go or try purchasing a “leech” from the Mall. This little beauty will drain shield power from an opponent and replenish your energy.
As you progress through the various racing classes the sense of speed becomes exhilarating. Of course as the bikes move faster it becomes much more difficult to prevent hitting the walls. I often found myself careening helplessly back and forth from wall to wall as the turns and dips continued to shoot towards me. Skilled use of the airbrakes becomes essential later in the game if you retain any real hopes of winning.
The only had two real gripes with the gameplay. The first is that there is no track map displayed on the screen. This would certainly help in negotiating corners because you would be able to better anticipate them. The other quirk is the controls. I had to go through several iterations of button re-mapping before I could find a layout that worked for me in the game. I found it hard to throttle, fire weapons, turbo and air brake in rapid sequence and still be able to keep the bike from hitting the walls. That’s really it though; otherwise the gameplay is rock solid and totally enjoyable.
Outside of the League Mode which I have just described, the game offers up an Arcade Mode that lets gamers race on the tracks they unlocked in League Mode. There is also a Time Trial Mode where players race to get the best lap and track times. Doing this can net some big cash rewards from your sponsors and set you up for a visit to the XG Mall for weapons and upgrades. Beating the times is not easy though…so this isn’t a fast cash mode.
There is also a terrific two-player split screen game that can be played in the League Mode, which allows two players to progress through the races. Existing League players can also be brought in from a memory card or the Arcade Mode can be used to race as well.
The visuals in Extreme G are nothing short of phenomenal. Beautiful high-res textures are generously layered over high polygons count backgrounds and vehicles. Everything looks gorgeous and moves along at breakneck speed.
One of the things that I found most impressive visually is when the bike takes a banked curve and the whole background tilts in accordance with the bikes perspective. I found it jaw-dropping to see whole city building landscapes tilting back and forth without the game ever dropping a frame.
The courses are wonderfully designed and presented in the game. There are lots of colors thrown around and excellent use of lighting. Bikes leave a nice vapor trail of energy and the particle effects of the weapons and disintegrating bikes is sweet. Once thing is for sure…the PS2 can do spectacular lighting and particle effects. There is even a superbly done wet course that is played in the evening with city buildings all lit up, the full moon in the background and neon signs blazing all over the place. The rain pelts the screen quite effectively and as the racers zip around the course there is occasionally a nice blurring effect that occurs. The whole presentation is quite surreal.
The sound effects are truly fantastic as well! The game is presented in Dolby Surround so if you have your PS2 going through a decent sound system you are in for a treat. The whirring sound of the bikes is quite fitting and we are also treated to a bunch of other little nuances like the splattering sound of falling rain onto the bikes canopy, metal on metal when rubbing a side rail, and cool weapons sounds. We are also exposed to sweet echoing “whoosh” effects as the bikes pass under structures and stanchions. All in all the sound effects blend in marvelously with the game and add to the overall experience.
The music in my opinion was pretty kickin’ but comparing it to the more futuristic melodies of WipEout would be unfair…it just cannot compare. The melodies are provided by the remixers Ministry of Sound, and really tie in well with the gameplay and look of the title.
OUR PLEDGE: We promise that we have fully played 'Extreme G Racing ' before writing this review. The scores given above are our honest opinion and were not influenced in any way by the manufacturer or distributor of the game.
This review was written by Tom Rooney © Absolute PlayStation
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