Gas Guzzlers Extreme
Publisher: Iceberg Interactive
Genre: Racing, Action
Open Letter Apology
I would like to openly apologize to Diehard GameFAN and to the developers of Gas Guzzlers Extreme for a statement that was made in my original version of this review. I made a statement about the lack of game modes available which was incorrect and even insinuated that the company was misdirecting consumers about said modes. I did not have a lot of time available to properly review Gas Guzzlers Extreme and rushed through my gaming experience before properly examining it thoroughly. I have amended and corrected the review the proper facts. For this huge error on my part I am very sorry to the developers over at Gamepires.
Gas Guzzlers Extreme. The name alone should be warning enough that you are about to play a mediocre combat racing game trying to shove tons of the attitude and edgy-ness down your throat. Every kind of cliché you can image for an “extreme” racing game is here. Heavy metal music, lots of explosions, insane weaponry, ludicrously named tracks, inane one liners, and more. Despite all the cheesiness, Gas Guzzlers Extreme does offer you a decent worthwhile experience as a racing combat game but it just screams average in just about every other way imaginable.
As weird as it may sound, there aren’t a lot of racing combat games out there if you don’t include arcade style kart racing games. You do have some of the legacy games like Carmageddon and MegaRace that have stood the test of time, but there aren’t many other good examples of this genre out there. In fact Gas Guzzlers Extreme is heavily influenced by Carmageddon in almost every aspect. Gas Guzzlers does many things right that I found very entertaining however there is equally a number of issues that make it an average game, preventing it from really ever standing out. For every positive that I have with the game there is a negative sitting right beside it.
One of the things I have to give Gamepires credit for was the controls. It’s never really easy to make the controls for any style of racing game work properly. Here they did an excellent job with good responsive controls and proper physics for handling a car flying at break neck speeds. The precision of controlling your car for making tight turns, drifting, ballistic impacts and even ramming opponents are wonderfully done thanks in part to the physics engine Gamepires employ. The variety of cars you control range from three wheeled lemons to supped up sports and luxury cars, each with their own unique handling and blaring top speed.
At times the physics can be a little lopsided. When cars tend to drive at high speeds and bang into one another, usually there is a loss of momentum and speed. There’s even a small time frame in which you temporarily lose control of the car. At times I have found myself spinning out after attempting to perform a PIT maneuver and see the CPU drive off without a hint of the collision. Then there are times where I had my rear bumper smashed by an opponent using a nitro boost and suddenly find myself doing a 180 degree spin. Normally this doesn’t happen often but it when it does it can totally ruin your chances of winning the race as it can be hard to recover.
The controller layout is pretty much what you would expect from a game like this. The shoulder or trigger buttons are used to for braking and accelerating as you’d expect. The face buttons are used for your weapons, nitro boost, and secondary weapon. There is absolutely nothing to complain about as the controls are very responsive. If you have the option, I would definitely recommend using the Xbox 360 controller or a Steering Wheel peripheral as those are the only ways you can play the game properly. The keyboard is not a viable option whatsoever and after extended use will start to cramp up you fingers.
Gas Guzzlers Extreme does offer a variety of gameplay modes ranging from the classic racing, to combative racing and arena combat along for the single player experience as well in online multiplayer. The classic racing mode is self-explanatory and manages to offer quite a bit of excitement despite lacking weapons. The combat racing is what it’s stated, balls to the wall action of weaponized combat while trying to win a race. There’s also an elimination style race called Knock Out where a racer is eliminated after a lap in a glorious explosion.
Other modes include a traditional Capture the flag, Arena combat and Last Man Standing. Capture the flag is the traditional team based game it always is with each team trying to capture the opponent’s flag and return it to score. Unlike a first person shooter, Gas Guzzler Extreme’s take is quite refreshing and very challenging especially in regards to drive evasively when returning the flag to your base. The Arena combat takes a page directly from Twisted Metal, another huge inspirations for car combat, using huge open environments for all out carnage. The action is free for all, fast paced and simply a blast.
The campaign mode is where you will be spending the most time in this game. You start out with a tutorial race that gets you use to the game and then you take your winnings and purchase your first jalopy car. You can choose to decal your car with the winnings of each race, repair your car, change weapons, or upgrade parts to improve the speed or handling of your car. As you progress and win races you start to unlock more cars and parts to purchase and even unlock new tracks. You can even gain and lose sponsorships based on your performance which is a novel idea that I don’t see to many racing game do in general. The sponsors throw some added cash your way with each race you win.
The races themselves in campaign mode have a variety of thing you can do outside of just trying to win a race. There are bonus goals that you can meet to earn more money. These goals are very specific and require quite a bit of skill to pull off. Some examples of these goals include hitting several cars with a smoke screen during a race, taking out a targeted racer, or eliminating a number of racers before the race even ends. These are by no means easy to pull off but you dignifiedly feel accomplished at the havoc you cause.
The action is very addicting and fast. You can feel the sense of speed and it’s fun to nail an opponent with my supersize shotguns mount on the sides of my car. However, Gas Guzzlers Extreme is not a game that revolves around an itchy trigger finger and balls to the walls action. You have to know the tracks well enough to not only take out and beat your opponents but when is the best time to use your nitro boost, where to plant a mine or oil slick. If you rely on just speed and shooting at everything that’s in front you will find yourself spinning out and not being able to recover to win it. There is a good balance thinking to go along with the speed and metal carnage that this game promotes.
Sadly I have a huge problem with the game’s AI. Much like many other racers, Gas Guzzlers Extreme is guilty of the “Catch up” AI mechanic. For those that aren’t aware of this, this is when you are given the illusion of having a huge lead on your opponent only to see them catch up to you in the final moments and even surpassing you for the win. Even on the lower difficulties this occurs and its very frustrating to deal with. This is a major strike against this game and it demerits any effort you’ve put into the game and even kills any enjoyment I was having.
The only form of multiplayer sadly is the online option. I say this because there is next to nobody online, just tons of official servers filled with bots to filling holes until somebody else joins you. In the few games I have played against another human, I found the online to be quite enjoyable. The netcode was pretty impressive and showed little to no lag whatsoever in my matches. There were no delays in hit detection from weapons or collision detection from crashing into my opponents. It’s such a shame that its an empty barren wasteland as this could possibly be the best part of the game and nobody is playing it. It’s also very disappointing that there is not even a split screen option for multiplayer.
As far as racing games go, Gas Guzzlers Extreme feels a few years behind in terms of its graphics. The car models, while looking crisp, sharp and polished looks like a first generation or launch title game in quality. The car models, even as they accrue damage during the race, while impressive don’t seem to have that much high quality texturing to them. I’ve seen texture qualities from Burnout 3 on the original Xbox that were more detailed and that’s pretty sad. The destruction models are also kind of generic to look at. Missing windows, hoods, dented doors, scrapes are all the basics of a damaged car model in any racing game. Even a car that has been total combusted on the track look rather generic looking as it’s a pile of scrap covered in a huge fire. It’s a shame Gamepires didn’t make their cars look nearly as good as the environments you can drive in.
The various courses in the game are incredibly huge and beautiful even if they are the typical variety. You have a large variety of environment to race in ranging from the deserts, to the tundra, mountain paths, generic racing circuits and forest tracks. For the most part these are the generic but they offer a lot of beautiful scenery, excellent lighting nice weather effects. My personal favorites are the snow covered courses in part because they are beautifully textured and filled with lots of detail, but also because of the degree of difficulty the snow adds when it comes to the tight turns and small tracks.
One of the biggest problems I have with Gas Guzzlers Extreme is that they really go all out with the Extreme moniker. They literally shove it down your throat with quirky names of the cars, tracks and even sponsors but the biggest offending is the music tracks. This is a poor imitation of 1990s trash metal and it can get very irritating after a while. The music is nothing but a constant rhythm with no variation throughout each track with pounding drums, a lack of melodic guitars and no detectable bass line. Every track sounds like a 30 second sample on constant repeat. I have to recommend turning the music off and using your own music.
I haven’t stated this yet, but Gas Guzzlers Extreme is an extremely fun game. Granted it’s on the short side due to its empty online mode and it’s one off campaign racing. However, once the race starts you just want to get dirty taking out a few opponents with your mounted shotgun, rocket launchers, Gatling guns or mortars. The rush of speed as you try to make your turns and the frustration of hitting an oil spill adds to it. Sure the AI can be cheap with the comeback mechanic but that doesn’t always demerit the fun I am having.
Short Attention Span Summary
Unfortunately there isn’t a whole lot to warrant playing Gas Guzzlers Extreme after you’re done with the campaign mode and experiencing the variety of game modes. If you can find anybody to play with online then you are going to have a blast. Gas Guzzlers Extreme does have Steam integration so you have a number of achievements you can unlock but there is nothing else the game offers. Gas Guzzlers Extreme’s replayability is hurt severely a lack of local multiplayer. This is a game that screams party game with friends over. If there was a split screen mode then that alone would extend its longevity but hopefully they will add such a feature if the game is ported to consoles. However this should not detract from the fact that Gas Guzzlers Extreme is an incredibly fun game and if you do decide to purchase it, you won’t have any feelings of regret doing so.