Not since the lightcycles of Tron has motorcycle racing been this interesting. Fat-wheeled, high-octane road machines duke it out on some of the most dizzying tracks in the world. The Tournament was designed by the military to test future vehicle and weapons technology. Open to anyone, the Tournament draws the best pilots from around the world and pits them against each other. Are you man enough? More importantly, are you EXTREME enough?
Well, I sure wasn't. Extreme G 2 is a sequel to last year's motion sickness game of the year on the N64, Extreme-G. Unfortunately, this year all we have is a rehash of last year's glory. Though still fun, Extreme-G 2 just doesn't have that special something that made it's predecessor so much fun.
For one, the graphics just don't seem up to par with it's ancestor. Though Acclaim increased the number of textures and the detail on both the bikes and the background, that is not always a good thing. In exchange, Extreme-G 2 can be rather choppy at times. They used all that power to create ships that fly over parts of the tracks, lightning effects, and other eye candy. Although it's pretty, it does so with the sacrifice of gameplay, which is never acceptable.
Unfortunately, the track design isn't up to par either. In Extreme G, I was mesmerized by the twists and turns in the track, never quite knowing where I was going next, but in Extreme-G 2, I was just frustrated. On one track, I'd be heading up a hill when I'd just run into a barrier. On another, I'd fly out of a tube, and suddenly be backwards!? Talk about annoying!
There are 12 tracks in the game, each with 3 variations, giving you a total of 36. Unfortunately, in order to open up the tracks, you have to beat each racing league (Atomic, Critical Mass, and Meltdown). While this might not sound bad, the game leads you to believe that you don't have to win in order to advance. Then suddenly you're faced with the game over screen. Arrggghh.
Don't get me wrong, Extreme G 2 does have some interesting aspects that were left out of the original. The multiplayer is a lot more fleshed out in this version. On top of the four player split-screen, there's also a tournament cup mode (where you can have up to 16 players), and the Battle Arena (which is an entirely different game). The cup mode is designed like most of what you see in sports games. You list all the players, then the computer pits you against each other until there is only one left. Basic fare, but always kinda fun.
The Battle Arena, on the other hand, is a whole new kettle of fish. Suddenly, the cycles that you normally race are in tank form, and you're playing a Twisted Metal type car-combat game. Unfortunately, it was very much designed as a last minute thing, and pales in comparison to actual car-combat games. While I like the inclusion of this bonus game, I wish Acclaim had spent their time making a whole new game with just the Battle Arena. Though a popular genre on the Playstation, no game company has released a good car-combat game yet on the N64 (though Vigilante 8 is due out on the N64 soon - Ed.).
In the end, all we have in Extreme-G 2 is a rehash of the original. Acclaim didn't realize, however, that in the time between games, many competitors have also released racing combat games. The two newest are F-Zero X and Wipeout 64, both of which are just more fun than Extreme-G 2. This is a good game, nothing too great and nothing too bad. Unfortunately, with all the competition out there, good games sometimes just don't cut it.