Smooth as a marble floor and a bit more exciting, too.
Looking for fast and furious racing? Need to vent some pinned up road-rage via machine guns, missiles and rockets? Then look no further. Nintendo and Acclaim have kicked up their version of one the best Wipeout clones to grace a console.
Extreme G, the lightning fast futuristic racer, has made it through GR security and into our Gamecube. And for the most part, we've had a pretty good time speeding and shooting. But with overly sparse competition, this race is sometimes less than thrilling.
You begin by choosing from one of six XG teams competing in the Extreme G Racing League for gold and glory. The League was founded at the end of the 22nd century for futuristic sports fans as the ultimate spectator sport. Whatever. You're not playing this for the story.
You race futuristic Akira style bikes at up to 800 mph through various locations and climate conditions. This earns you much fame and, more importantly, cold hard cash. This can be used to upgrade your machine to perform better. Take a trip to the shop for new engines, thrusters, missiles, rear guns, EMP devices, mines, rockets, energy leeches (cool energy pilfering devices) and more to beef out your ride's offensive capabilities.
Shields and ammo are replenished by driving over colored strips strategically laid out on each course. Often they are side by side, requiring you to decide which one you need most.
The lion's portion of the gameplay takes place in the game's Career mode. This includes a few different League challenges for you to undertake. Leagues are sequential - beat one to gain access to the next. Each League sports a different set of tracks and varying cash purse rewards.
There's also a two-player Career mode, which is the same as the normal Career/League races but this time you have another rider on your team to help you bump and shoot the competition. Topping off the gameplay modes are Practice, Head-to-Head and Time Trial, where money can be earned for impressive completion times.
Technically speaking, Extreme G 3 has it all. There is no slowdown, even with all 12 riders on screen. The game stays remarkably smooth throughout. The environments are huge, colorful and nicely detailed. The streak of colored light that trails behind each cycle lends a very cool futuristic touch. Riders also turn to look at other competitors as they approach on either side, and sparks fly when bikes collide and scrape against each other or the metallic track walls. The particle effects from weapons and boosters are solid. A pretty game, through and through.
I'm sad to see the absence of any kind of replay. Some of the better moments are totally lost, never to be seen again. Every racing game should have a replay of some sort as it helps the game look a bit more cinematic. Oh well, que sera, sera.
The handling is superb. For a game that blazes with such speed, it's incredibly easy to control the bike. Acclaim did a good job mapping out the button placement as well. The learning curve is literally little to none.
But for all its solid performance, Extreme G3 still comes packed with its share of problems. The missing excitement is one of the more severe gameplay issues. While there are twelve riders per race, the tracks are huge and you often find yourself alone with no one to antagonize. This is weak. With no shooting or bumping going on, you're simply flying down a track alone, which is pretty unexciting.
What make matter worse is the mindless, drone-like driving skill of the NPC competitors. They almost never scrape against each other or the walls and all their turns are perfect. This is annoying and sucks the realism and immersion right out of an otherwise good game.
At least you can enjoy the well-recorded audio. Engines hum, turbos blast and many of the weapons rumble and boom accordingly. The sound effects are believable and appropriate.
Extreme G3 excels in its delivery, but the lack of excitement and any sort of replay system dampen the fun. Tricking out your ride is neat, but with no riders around to take an expensive missile up the tailpipe, you're left with just an above average futuristic racer that doesn't bring anything particularly original to the table. It's still a pretty solid game, but maybe the upcoming Wipeout Fusion can raise the stakes a bit.