September 26, 2001
XG3: Extreme-G Racing - Review
When Psygnosis (which is now a part of SCEE) released Wipeout on the PSOne about 5 years ago now it ushered in a new racing genre. No company had ever created a futuristic racer with such a sense of speed, exhilaration and excitement. It remains testament to the genius of the series that it is still regarded as one of the best racing games on the PSOne after so many years and has since spawned two sequels. Playstation 2 owners are eagerly awaiting the stunning looking Wipeout Fusion which due out prior to Christmas. Flying under the radar of many journalists, and missing out on a lot of hype, is Acclaim's XG3: Extreme-G Racing (or XG3 for short) which has just as much potential. Sure it may have borrowed heavily from Sony's series, but there are enough unique elements and differences to make this interesting in itself.
|Tracks are full of twists and turns.|
XG3 includes 10 varied tracks are all superbly detailed and designed with plenty of gut wrenching twist, turns and drop offs. The bikes you ride, as well as the 11 opponents, are equipped with shields, as well as weapons to attack the opponents. Each bike is also equipped with a turbo boost, which can help your bike break the sound barrier. While the shields, weapons and turbo are depleted through the race it's possible to power them back up by going over special power-up sections of the track, much like those in Nintendo's F-Zero games.
|Track design is absolutely stunning.|
This game has pretty standard game modes such as career, arcade and a very exciting 2-player multi-player mode. All the tracks remain locked until you begin winning races in the career mode and save your progress. The multi-player mode great because, unlike many other current racing games, you also compete against 10 other CPU controlled bikes. While there aren't too many tracks in the game, and it won't take too long to unlock them all, the replay value of the game is very high and you'll keep coming back for more time and time again.
It would be great to say that this game has no problems, but there is one, and it's quite annoying. The biggest problem is that because of the sheer speed that everything runs at it is impossible at time to avoid the corners. The bikes don't quite respond as you would hope with some slow turning at times. This problem could have been overcome with slightly wider tracks, or by giving the riders a slightly tighter turning circle. The only other minor problem with the game is the lack of tracks available. The developers have only included 10 different tracks and while they are quite lengthy become a little repetitive after unlocking them all after several hours play.
|Expect plenty of very close action.|
Graphics in XG3 are definitely one of the games main strengths. It could be safe to say that this game is even quicker then the Wipeout games, which is saying something. The frame rate is fairly solid and the trackside detail is impressive. Just wait until you go through some of the tunnels. The bikes each leave a vapour trail and the machine guns leave tracer fire so it's even possible to try and avoid the enemy fire from behind. The only disappointment with the graphics is the Acclaim haven't included a 60Hz mode as they do with many of their other games.
One of the more outstanding things about XG3 is the thumping soundtrack. The 5 dance music tracks are provided by the Ministry of Sound (a major club brand originating from the UK), and are superbly suited to the futuristic setting of the game. Better still, the entire game has been encoded with Dolby Surround sound which, given the right equipment, sounds absolutely tremendous. The sound effects are also quite impressive with the hums of the racing bikes, the cracking of the machine guns and ambient sounds all joining together to create an impressive aural feast. Sadly, the worst part of this game is probably the menu music that has a slightly annoying beat to it. Still, as soon as you get into the game all is forgotten.
|This tunnel is gorgeous.|
If you were to replace the motorbikes with hovercraft you could be forgiven for thinking that XG3 was actually the new Wipeout Fusion from Sony. The game is full of speed and some terrific thumping music. The only problem with the game is the twitchy controls. If the development team had spent a little more time tweaking them, or widening the tracks a little, the game could have earned a much higher mark. Hopefully Acclaim will work on a sequel to remedy this slight flaw and add a few more tracks to the game. As it is though, XG3 is still a very solid title with plenty of adrenaline inducing action and some stomach churning moments. Check it out.
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