XGIII: Extreme G Racing

Overview

Founded at the end of the 22nd century, the Extreme-G Racing League has brought racing to a place beyond imagination. With its creation, racing was taken to the next level as the speed and intensity stretched safety and common sense past the point of return. With the raw power of the bikes, riders were forced to make the quickest decisions and have the fastest reaction time just to survive. In addition, weapons are also included on these already dangerously fast machines adding one more level of intensity. As the league takes racing farther than it's ever been, who knows all the possibilities as teams keep pushing the envelope, looking for the edge that will put them in the winners circle.

XGIII: Extreme G Racing is the third installment of a less than stellar racing series. With its beginnings on the Nintendo 64, the first two attempts were plagued by various gameplay issues as it became evident the developers bit off more then they could chew. This latest installment, however, is a different story. Now with Acclaim running the show, they are able to create a racing game that gives a sense of speed and solid control, making comparisons to other games like Wipeout, credible. Although there are still some minor gameplay issues and other areas that could have been improved, XGIII: Extreme G Racing will definitely keep your interest and, as long as you can handle the speed, you'll get a ride you won't forget.

Gameplay, Controls, Interface

Instead of entering races as a single driver, XGIII: Extreme G Racing offers more of a NASCAR feel, with teams being financed through sponsors. Before starting, you'll have the option of joining one of six teams, each with different racing styles, sponsors, and team members. Some, for instance, are made of all women, some are veteran riders, and others are just looking for the adrenaline rush. To help with the decision, each team has a short bio describing their sponsor and racing approach. Once a team is selected, a choice between the two riders must be made. Each rider has their specific strengths and weaknesses but generally, it has little effect on the game. Whether the rider is from Germany with an IQ of 200 or from Japan with an IQ of 90, it makes little difference while you are racing, but it does personalize the riders.

With a team and rider selected, there are various different modes of play available. The first option, which is the League or career mode, carries the majority of the gameplay and other options like Arcade have lesser roles and probably won't be used much. Although using the Arcade mode for a quick race may sound appealing, it makes more sense to attempt to qualify for the next race in the League mode, as each game can be saved after a race. Some racing games require three to five full races before saving, making it difficult to advance without some time available.

The League mode also is where the rider advances through each circuit. Here there are ten different tracks spread across four circuits. With unique designs and locations, each track is vastly different from the last and increases in difficulty. There is a problem here that focuses mainly around the small number of actual tracks. With only ten tracks available, the game's life span is significantly reduced and, although some are challenging enough to keep most people busy, once the track becomes familiar, it will be beaten fairly quickly.

Once a race is completed, credits will be awarded depending on the place you finished in. These credits can be used to upgrade the bike with different weaponry, better engines, or stronger shields. You'll quickly find the usefulness of these items as they give a necessary edge to a difficult race, also adding a touch of variety, giving other goals besides just winning.

No matter what other extras or how much variety is added, however, if the controls are difficult to use or are cumbersome, the game would be destined to fail. XGIII: Extreme G Racing does an excellent job here, mainly due to the GameCube controller. With the velocity the bikes are traveling at, every function and command must be fluid and easy to trigger. This is generally the case, but certain parts of the controls really shine. The directional control, for instance, is done using the control stick and the feel it gives is amazing. When slight pressure is applied, the bike gradually turns in perfect unison, allowing the player to get better responses and results. Other functions are also naturally placed and easy to use. The acceleration, for example, is performed using the A button with the boost controlled using the B button to its left. The air brakes are on the left and right triggers while the weapon control is on the Y button.

Multiplayer

As with most games, there is a solid multiplayer option with a four player mode that is appealing. That four player mode is expected, however, as the GameCube can support four controllers without extra hardware. What is more impressive is the ability for two players to play the League mode on the same team. This definitely improves on the game's longevity as now it may be just as fun to go through the game again.

Graphics

From a graphical standpoint, you won't find too many complaints. It holds at a solid frame rate with only an occasional infraction and the detail level, although not stellar, is enough to not be distracting. Other things like the location of the tracks and the fascinating design will help to immerse in the game. There are some effects like snow and rain that could have been better, as the snow looks particularly poor, but these are minor issues and don't affect the game.

Audio

Acclaim made a good decision incorporating surround sound into this game and it even masks some of the audio's weaker dimensions. When you're racing down a track and hear an opponent coming from behind, it's impressive and almost makes it fun to get passed. Most other general sounds are on the mark and the soundtracks aren't bad either.

Bottom Line

XGIII: Extreme G Racing offers a level of speed and intensity that's difficult to capture in a game. It's a complex balance to reach, but Acclaim definitely came close to achieving it. Although not containing as many tracks as you'd generally like to see, other areas like the multiplayer options help to pick it up some. With solid gameplay and break neck speed, XGIII: Extreme G Racing is sure to impress and keep you going for hours.

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