|Review by||:||Ken Gagne|
When I played an early version of Acclaim's Extreme-G this summer, it appeared to be the fastest of a slew of Nintendo 64 racing games. Now it is apparent that Extreme-G is simply one of the fastest racers for any system, ever.
Gameplay takes place on twelve futuristic courses, any number of which comprise the three circuits at three difficulty settings each. The routes proceed through scorched deserts, dark, steamy cities, and even heck itself. The layouts include twists, loops, and perfectly vertical surfaces, often to the extent that confusion arises as to which direction is up. The vehicles of choice are motorcycles, similar in design to the light-cycles from the movie TRON. Each has different attributes, but a standard front-mounted laser cannon. More powerful secondary weapons can be acquired throughout the race.
Extreme-G's graphics whip by at an alarming rate, certainly faster than standard fare. Detail is somehow preserved, preventing the game from being a complete blur. The sun shines onto the outdoor stages with great lighting effects, while dark towers loom over the city courses. The special weapons are displayed merely as accouterments on the vehicles, though, and are easily confused as to their effects. There are three perspectives from which to race, but the first-person view is so dizzying as to be nearly useless.
The music is often almost as fast-paced as the action. The moody, futuristic tones set the stage for the game without being repetitive. Creative use of sound effects serve as warning to weapon discharges, and accompany the explosions and blasts from such nicely.
One might think that control must be sacrificed for this level of speed, and that first assumption may initially seem to be correct. It takes awhile to learn to control the bikes effectively through courses that race by so fast, but it can be done. Quick turns and high-flying jumps soon become the norm. If it still isn't fast enough, hit the nitro for a quick boost. For some reason, a rather useless brake button is available…
Once the learning curve is overcome, Extreme-G is not too difficult a game. The requirements to pass each stage are usually minimal. Fighting the effects of so much weaponry is as much a challenge as the race itself, and adjustable settings of computer opponent difficulty allows gamers to pick their own fights.
The replay value is high, with so many vehicles, courses, and circuits from which to select. Progress through the lengthy circuits can be saved to a memory pack, or passwords supplied if a pack is not available, for continued gaming. If solitary play should grow monotonous, then grab a friend or three, as Extreme-G has four-player capability. This is a great way to experience the races, though the battle mode is not so enthralling. The speed in these arenas is minimal. The cycles were designed to go straight, and quickly; slowly turning around an enclosed space to precisely aim a weapon is neither practical nor enjoyable.
Extreme-G stands out in a crowd of racers. It has more courses than the recent trend of three- and five-course racing titles, but not as many options to alter those courses. It has codes enable new methods of play (ala Goldeneye), but a limited multiplayer capacity. Its incredible speed exceeds even the great Wipeout XL for PlayStation, even if just marginally. Overall, if you're looking for an extremely good time, it's tough to go wrong with Extreme-G.
This article is copyright (c) 1997, 2007 by Ken Gagne. All rights reserved. Not to be distributed without permission.
Original publication: Sentinel & Enterprise, 10-Nov-97