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XGRA: Extreme G Racing Association Package Art
 GENRE
  Racing
 DEVELOPER
  Acclaim Cheltenham
 PUBLISHER
  Acclaim
 NUMBER OF PLAYERS
  1-2
 CONNECTIVITY
  no
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XGRA: Extreme G Racing Association

Heading way back to the N64 era, Acclaim started a franchise that they’ve stuck with up until now. The Extreme G futuristic racing franchise offers blinding speed on par with F Zero but with weapons and pick ups which are scattered throughout the course.

XGRA: Extreme Gravity Racing Association is the latest installment of the series. The game features a story mode and other improvements. But with the recent release of the superb F-Zero GX one has to wonder how XGRA fares amidst top caliber competition on the GameCube.

visuals

The environments of all the E3 games have always thrilled my eyes! This game is no exception. Backgrounds feature all kinds of variation and the palette is excellent. You only get a chance to see them in the corner of your eye as your corking through the course, but you do notice the look of the game and it’s classy presentation right away.

It has to be noted that in some instances the game does suffer some slow down that, after seeing the blazing speed of F-Zero GX, is a bit disappointing. However the visuals are solid overall.

audio

When you’ve got speed and futuristic bikes why not stick to the techno sounds as you blast through at five million miles an hour? Acclaim’s techno element to this soundtrack is very well placed here and suits the game perfectly. I’m not a big fan of the audio interaction of the different competitors as some of their lines are downright corny. Weapon and bike sound effects are well done as well. In fact, audio work is solid across the board.

gameplay

Considering the amount of game modes that are in your average racer these days, only having a basic season mode with a time trial and arcade mode just won’t cut it here. Borrowing from platform titles, you will be assigned supplementary objectives to the obvious objective of placing well in a race. While these are a nice touches, the lack of real depth in the overall experience hurts this title.

Many racing games in today’s era attempt to create a “motivation” for why the driver is trying to do so well. NFS Underground has the whole network going, F-Zero had the polished cut scenes etc. But I have some very cost effective news for development houses and publishers: while the storlines provide a nice fluff, don’t get too wrapped up in them! The whole motivation for gamers who love racing is to go fast. Period. The one storyline that works for me in a racing game is the one in Dirt To Daytona. Win, get money and sponsors, buy a new ride, go FASTER. Win again.

Acclaim Cheltenham attempted to create a story driven background to the game through the use of a television style presentation on the SiNN (Sports interactive News Network). While the depth of the storyline is as intriguing and deep as Nick Kang’s (True Crime) brittle storyline the use of the SiNN is more for presentation then depth.

In the Season mode, Acclaim hit on the right button by allowing gamers to customize the bikes that they graduate to after getting deeper into the game, but after being in the depths of the Dirt to Daytona season mode I’d have loved to have seen more dynamics within the team and the driver. The idea of earning sponsorships, working your way in the team and having the autonomy to spend funds at your discretion is lacking here. However, there are several leagues that you have to play through here and the amount of play time to get to the end is definitely compensatory in relation to what you paid for the game. In other words, this game will entertain you for a respectable amount of time.

The control in this title feels like propelling a rocketing mass of metal down a loopy, twisty, corkscrewed course should. XGRA bikes feel solid and the control is nice and sensitive so lose the Nascar thumb and be delicate on your bike. I also think that Acclaim purposely slowed down the action of the game so that it stopped looking like an orgy of laser light shows and allowed gamers to strategize the use and context of the use of their weapons. Smart move as the weapons are what sets this title apart from F-Zero GX.

Lastly, and I mean this as a compliment, this game doesn’t stifle you in difficulty like F-Zero GX does. XGRA offers a challenge that will keep you going.

multiplayer

I wasn’t able to play through the multiplayer mode thoroughly with a friend so I’ll have to reserve my judgments here. As always, the game feels more exhilarating when going against a human opponent. However sometimes (as with other Extreme G games) the action gets a bit confusing on a split screen.

overall

XGRA sports one of the worst titles I’ve heard in a while for a video game. But under that nasty title there’s a pretty solid racer. Unfortunately for Acclaim, the Cube has just been hit up with three outstanding racers including Mario Kart: Double Dash!!, F-Zero GX, and Need for Speed Underground. In that company, XGRA looks average.

final score 7.5/10





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Staff Avatar Eric Mattei
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"Lost like tears in rain"


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