Maybe Dale Earnhardt could do better. Review

Jeff Gordon XS Racing Info

genre

  • N/A

players

  • 99 - 99

Publisher

  • ASC Games

Developer

  • N/A

Release Date

  • 12/31/1969
  • Out Now

Platform

  • PC

rating

Maybe Dale Earnhardt could do better.

In a moment of much vrooming and buzzing of motors, Jeff Gordon, the young,

boyish, comparatively anti-hick champion of the NASCAR racing scene claimed

first place at the Daytona 500, the largest race in all of NASCAR’s beer swillin’

world. Since then, little man Gordon has revealed a terrible, taboo, and ultimately

un-republican secret: He has been, and ever shall be, a video game aficionado.

What’s

even worse than being a lover of computer games (gasp, shock, terror in word

form), Gordon has banded together with a bunch of out-of-the-closet game developers

to create his very own racing game. It is called (brace yourself)… Jef Gordon

XS Racing (JGXSR), a game which was intended to be in excess (‘XS’ to be chic)

of all other racing games, but falls short of it’s lofty goal by ironically

being too limited.

JGXSR is set sometime in the future. Highly advanced, extremely stylish

racecars streak down Corporate-Logo-Clad tracks that resemble laser show funhouses.

They battle for first place, repair without the aid of a pit crew, and sprout

wings for flight control while catching some atmosphere. The racing is blisteringly

fast, the game is extremely flashy, and the entire equation is cut way short

by extremely short tracks, none of the bells and whistles that made games like

Need For Speed 3 so great, and some graphical

omissions that are simply downright illogical.

To begin with the good stuff, (because we at GR know you want to read the

bad but love making you wait for it) the actual racing in JGXSR is very

tight. Now, I don’t mean ‘tight’ as in the present teenage slang. What I mean

is that opposed to other games which let you get way ahead of your competition,

JGXSR makes you battle for every inch during every lap and forces you

to tense up all your racing muscles right until the very last second. The AI

of the opponent drivers is very sharp, forcing you to go neck and neck with

the top 2 or 3 cars for most of the race. Often you’ll go from leading the pack

to limping behind it simply for taking one jump to slowly or stripping a little

to much paint from the curb. At first this may seem fairly random, but to get

good at JGXSR you must use total concentration and deft control.

Admittedly, a feeling of the tense, millisecond to millisecond nature of NASCAR,

wrapped up in an arcade package is what JGXSR is going for. In fact it

says so at the beginning of the manual. In this respect JGXSR succeeds

admirably, going so far as to let you race up to 40 other cars, certainty a

record for a non-simulation racer.

But it is also in this pursuit of NASCAR that JGXSR creates its biggest

flaw. The track design also maintains a certain NASCAR sensibility, all the

tracks being short, focused affairs that you learn in the same way that you

might learn Watgins Glen or Leguna Seca. Unfortunately, this makes all the tracks

very short, and not particularly varied save for the occasional 360 loop. Given

that there are only 10 tracks, JGXSR is a very brief game. In fact, none

of the individual races feel particularly satisfying.

Short track length is countered, again in a NASCAR way, by forcing you to

round each track between 10 and 20 times in order to finish the race. The monotony

of racing the same short track over and over again can turn JGXSR from

white-knuckled, melted-tires fun to the latest sleeping medication. It’s sure

to make your mind wander off into dreamland while still at the wheel, or keyboard

depending on how cheap you are.

Also

lacking from XS Racing are all the standard rewards. There is no way

to race any of the tracks in reversed or mirrored mode, add new cars, new tracks,

upgrades or any of the other now-standard features found in a top of the line

arcade racer.

As far as sound and music go, JGXSR is about average. The music is

mostly generic but reasonably energetic techno, while the sounds are all the

staples you’ve heard before, with the exception of the in-flight effects when

the wings shoot out and for a brief moment you become a pilot, rather than a

gravity-bound driver.

There is something baffling about the graphics. It is clear from the first

lap that JGXSR was designed specifically to be a flashy, visually stunning

sci-fi racer, and for the most part it does very well. Why then, did the developers

limit the maximum resolution to 640×480? In these days of 800×600 and 1024×768

standards, this is a peculiar mystery. 640×480, especially when viewed on a

large monitor, is downright grainy and jaggy; how unfortunate!

JGXSR is flashy, that much is for sure. All the tracks are bathed in

a multitude of colored lights, spotlights, laser beam like effect lights, and

other odd special FX. Many of the tracks feature bizarre settings like a circus

tent or a casino. It reminds me of a drunken night spent out on the Las Vegas

strip. However, many of the textures are bland and repetitive, much of the game

is rendered with as few polygons as possible, and only your car is decked out

with a fancy reflective crone sheen, the other cars look like props from that

three year old racing game that you’ve stopped playing.

JGXSR features tense, tight racing action, but too little of it. What

you do get to play is far too limited, making the game not very far in ‘XS’

of anything except mediocre offerings like Boss Rally, the type of game

we here at GR usually have only the time to ignore.

If you are a fan of NASCAR racing simulations, but you’re itching for some

arcade action, JGXSR does appeal far more to the NASCAR sensibilities

than to those of Pole Position. In this case Jeff Gordon woudn’t be a bad choice.

However, for the rest of you out there JGXSR is difficult to recommend. It

has a lot of very nice touches in a lot of the right places, but sadly lacks

some of the basic necessities, making it merely a great way to wet your appetite

for a sequel if they every make it. I’d even settle for an expansion pack, one

with long, winding tracks, support for high resolutions, and more use for those

kick ass wings.

REVOLUTION REPORT CARD

2.5
Rating
Tense Racing Action
Flashy Like a F550 Marranello
40 Opponents
640x480?
Short, Confined Tracks
Oddly Limited Graphics
Can Get Monotonous