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XG3 Extreme G Racing

Review By:  Jared Black

Developer:  Acclaim
Publisher:  Acclaim
# of Players:  1-4
Genre:  Racing
ESRB:  Everyone
Online:  No
Accessories:  Memory Card
Date Posted:  12-19-01

*Note: Since the GameCube port of XG3 Extreme G Racing is nearly identical to the PS2 version and I wrote our PS2 review of the game, Iíve updated the PS2 review and made changes where appropriate rather than say the same things all over again.

Acclaimís Extreme G series has always been a very solid set of games that was slightly ahead of its time. While it was never among the upper-echelon of futuristic racers, it was always a technically sound and fun racing experience. However, since it appeared on the Nintendo 64 previously it always had several problems related to that platformís limitations. These problems included framerate problems, horrible filtering, and limited texturing. With this new hardware generation, the concepts this series began with (fast racing, incredible lighting, etc.) are finally attainable. Luckily, Acclaim capitalized on this and delivered the type of game Extreme G fans have been waiting for.

The primary element of XG3 is delivering an incredible sense of speed. Other series in this genre (Wipeout, F-Zero, etc.) have always been able to deliver a sense of speed, but never has a game delivered it to this degree. Once you work your way up to the higher speed classes, things get really faaaaaassssttttt. The great thing is that, no matter how fast things get, the game remains very playable. Even at the highest speeds, rarely does the player get the feeling that they are not in control of whatís happening. This is due to a finely tuned control system and wider tracks (most of which have banked turns ALA NASCAR) then youíll find in most games. The control scheme is what youíd expect (ex: the A button controls acceleration), and feels very intuitive. Since the Y and B buttons handle the fire weapon and turbo functions, the player can easily roll the thumb over to the one they want to use while keeping the acceleration going.

The GameCube controller actually feels better for XG3 than the PS2 version does due to its more-intuitive button layout and deeper and more responsive shoulder buttons for air braking. Putting the Fire Weapon (Y) and weapon cycle (Z cycles them clockwise) buttons together is better as it allows one finger to handle all of the weapons control. The PS2 version has weapon cycling assigned to L1 and R1 (which allows you to cycle in both directions), but has the fire weapon button assigned as the square button. The result is a less-intuitive system where two fingers control weapons fire.

Unlike the Wipeout series, weapons and accessories in this game must be purchased using the money won from each race. Once a weapon is purchased, you can use it anytime you please. The catch is that your ammo meter must be full enough to allow you to use it, and since each weapon uses varying amounts of the meter a lot of strategy is involved in choosing what to use and when. In a way this adds to the tension of the race, as you must cycle through and choose a weapon youíve purchased before using it. Thus, you have to learn to watch where youíre going and select at the same time. Turbo works in much the same manner, as using it will deplete your shield. Since your shield protects you from other racersí weapons, itís smart to use the turbo sparingly. Both meters are replenished by driving over energy recharge lanes, with purple filling up ammo and green filling up shields. While I personally prefer the Wipeout approach (weapons are gotten by riding over specific areas), itís a system that works well enough and helps to differentiate the series a bit.

Graphically, XG3 is an incredible package. Acclaim always tried to do too much on the Nintendo 64, but now their vision has finally been realized. Each of the 6 teamsí bikes (there are two riders per team) look very realistic and distinct, and itís easy to spot out your ally during the race. Each of the ten different courses has its own distinct look, with some incredibly complex environments. In particular, the bustling city of Megalopis 7 is awe-inspiring. There are flying vehicles everywhere around the track and going 700+ mph weaving in and out of skyscrapers is incredible. The weather effects, while not overwhelming like Wave Race: Blue Storm, are also well done. The GameCube port has several visual enhancements over itís PS2 predecessor, including a steadier framerate (that almost always stays at 60fps) and a more polished look (AKA less jaggies). The GameCube version also supports multiplayer for up to four players (and other minor additions not in the PS2 version), with very little loss in the visuals. While it does show signs of being a port (some leftover texture work isnít up to par with GameCube standards), itís still a great looking game.

Theyíve also made great progress in the sound department. Utilizing Dolby Surround Sound, the techno/rock soundtrack (most provided by Ministry of Sound) sounds very good. However, while all of the tracks are excellent technically, a few of the tracks arenít very different and quickly become repetitive. All of the sound effects sound really good, sounding just "over the top" enough to seem futuristic. A very solid and technically excellent sound package.

Highs:

  • Excellent graphics. XG3 has a unique and cohesive style that sets it apart from other racers.
  • Good use of sound, including mostly-good music and great sound effects.
  • Speed speed speed.
  • Added four-player modes for GameCube.

Lows:

  • Despite having multiple speed classes, having only 10 tracks limits replay value.

Final Verdict:

XG3 Extreme G Racing is a great racing game that finally establishes this series as one of the best. If you own the PS2 version already however, there's no reason to pick this one up aside from four-player support.  And while it is overall superior to the PS2 version, it earns the same score because it's a straight-up port of a game several months old already.

Overall Score: 8.9

Additional Images:

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