Mommy, stop the ride, I wanna get off!!!
The race takes place in the future. When? I cannot say. Where? You cannot know. Why? Well, humanity got boring. With a plot line straight from Death Race 2000, the people of Earth were bored and cried out for something to entertain them. Then some bureaucrat got the idea for a fast paced death race, the winner getting a place on a new world aptly named 'The New World.' Sounds good to me!
Acclaim is one of the few third party companies to prove that it can consistently program for the Nintendo64. With Turok, they created one of the best N64 games to date. Now they're at it again with Extreme-G, perhaps the fastest racing game in history. Other third party makers for the N64 need to call Acclaim and find out what they're doing right.
Enough about the company, what about the game? Extreme-G, like most games out on the market now, is totally polygonal. Reminiscent of WipeoutXL, you race along twisting, turning tracks, picking up weapons, and trying to beat your opponent. Fairly basic concept, but a hell of a lot of fun.
Only one word can describe the graphics . . . impressive. You have to drive your space age cycle through any combination of tunnels, jumps, loops, and corkscrews. On later tracks, you can drive up a wall and back the way you came, but this time on the ceiling! The speed and smoothness of the graphical engine is amazing. The first time playing the game, I guarantee you won't be very steady on your feet when you stand up. While the tracks themselves are impeccable, you don't really have a background. In most racing games, there is a city or mountains far off in the background. In Extreme-G, there is only mist. It's like driving a car through one of the Turok worlds. It's harder to get immersed in a game when you seem to be driving in the clouds all the time.
Extreme-G has fairly standard gameplay for all its bells and whistles. You can choose one of eight cars with which to race Each car has varying statistics in five categories: Acceleration, Speed, Turns, Shield, and Weapons. There are at least two more cars that can be uncovered if you get far enough in the game. As for the tracks, there are twelve of them. Most racing games have four to eight tracks that are fairly repetitive. With Extreme-G, many tracks have different paths that you can take which make the track shorter or longer depending on the choice you make.
On top of the normal, one-player game, gamers with friends can challenge them to several different multi-player games to see who is the best. There's Head to Head, Cup Tournament, Battle Arena, and Capture the Flag to keep you killing your friends for hours. Can you beat them? Is your Kung-Fu strong enough?
In addition to the different cycles and tracks, there are eighteen different weapons you can use against your opponents. The guys at Acclaim look like they had a lot of fun coming up with various and sundry for death and destruction. Though none of them are as graphically impressive as WipeoutXL's wave bomb that morphed the entire track, they all have their uses.
The music in the game is your standard racing fare. Fast tempo loud music seems to be the order of the day. But while WipeoutXL was able to get Prodigy to do the music for them, Acclaim worked on their music themselves and came up with standard, but passable, noise emanating from your TV speakers.
By now, fans of the Nintendo64 are about to kill me for continually referring to, yup you guessed it, WipeoutXL. Well let me put it this way - if Extreme-G had come out first, it would have gotten a better grade, period. It has been a year since WipeoutXL hit the market, and Extreme-G doesn't really show a year's worth of improvements. In fact, many parts of WipeoutXL are still better than Extreme-G. Graphically, Extreme-G wins, thanks to the awesome power of the Nintendo64. But for overall fun, WipeoutXL is still the game of choice.
Drawbacks to Extreme-G stop it from being the amazing game that it was supposed to be. The biggest problem is that you cannot die. Sure, your cars have shields, but I never noticed any difference from using a heavily shielded car as opposed to a light one. The penalty in the unlikely event that either your shield runs out or you fall off the track is that you have the start from a stopped position, losing a few places in the race. I'm sorry, but if you drive your car into a pit of molten lava, you're not getting back out again.
All in all, Extreme-G is a fun racing game. With lots of tracks, lots of weapons, and lots of cars, this game will take a long time to get tired of. Add that to the multiplayer options and you have a lot of game. Over a year after its conception, the N64 is finally starting to spread its wings and fly with the help of Acclaim and titles like this one.