Driving games are one genre, but mixing that with weapons and destruction is a whole different ball game, Carmageddon, Twisted Metal and Death Race are just a few games you may have heard of, but recent years have seen only a handful of titles offering violence on 4 wheels, so how does Gas Guzzlers Extreme handle vehicular combat.
Well the main menu will tell you the worst, so I’ll begin by letting you in to a little secret, it’s good… very good.
But unfortunately nearly every game has a shortlist of negatives, and the main menu highlights the worst. You begin by selecting to continue or start a career or set up a quick race, then there’s options, credits and select profile… That’s right, nowhere does it mention multiplayer , either locally (split-screen) or online, so if you’re hoping to play with a few friends you’re out of luck, this is unfortunately a big loss, but we’ll touch on that a little more later.
Heading into career, you’ll encounter a few lengthy loading screens but soon enough you’ll start with your choice of two old bangers, which like the entire catalogue of 21 cars are loosely modelled on real-life cars, but devoid from their licensed names. Instead we have the Masderati, Dogg Dyper and ‘Ferrari’ inspired Stallion.
Once you’ve chosen between the old bangers, you start on your quest for the first cup, and have a choice between three race types, Power race is a simple lap based chase to the finishing line with basic power-ups, Battle race follows the same lap system but includes oversized weapons stuck to the outside of your car, and finally Knockout is an elimination battle race, where final place is eliminated after each lap.
You choose between the three for each race, with the freedom to avoid any you don’t enjoy good performances will get you a sponsor which unlocks an additional reward per win and occasional sponsor events throwing some other modes into the mix to gain some additional funds, but you’ll need to keep winning to keep your sponsor. Once you’re in first place, you’ll then unlocks the final tournament which challenges you to a single race of each mode in a new mini-league.
Progression feels fluent with new cars, rims, upgrades and tracks opening up after most races, meaning you always feel like you’re gaining something, but reaching this first major tournament (and reading about the $5,000 entry fee, you realise the prize money is important enough, especially if you’ve spent a lot on buying and upgrading each of the first 8 cars.
If you’re successful here you’ll head into the higher tear with a free gift of the first ‘modern’ car, called the Hound DX and a new ‘Last man standing’ game mode will be added to the choice for each stage, as well of the prospect of some pretty neat vehicles ahead.
Heading over to quick race highlights some of the modes you’ll encounter with more tracks unlocked through career progression. Capture the flag, Destruction Derby and Domination are all welcome additions, but one highlight has to be the survival mode, which pits you against wave after wave of zombie’s whether they where previously human, dog or bull., This puts much more emphasis on weapons and is a nice variation from the otherwise race orientated gameplay.
The major downfall is, while you can have 4 players, 3 are A.I, and there’s no option to team up with your friends, in a mode that’s all about team work and co-operation.
That certainly doesn’t ruin Survival mode, or any part og Gas Guzzlers Extreme as there’s plenty of content and more than enough fun to keep you coming back for more long after you’ve completed the career, but missing the multiplayer boat could have added so much more, and it’s sure to put off many who would otherwise consider the purchase.
To see in action, Gas Guzzlers is a real treat, graphics and presentation are far beyond the £19.99 ($24.99) asking price, and when you’re boosting continuously you’ll get a real feeling of speed as you scream along the game holds up well and equally slides along at a blistering pace.
There is just a little pop-up in the background which I barely noticed on the races, and it wasn’t until the latter waves of survival mode, when driving away from a few dozen zombies and oversized zombie bulls when I first experienced it.
The customisation options are well portrayed, explosions and power-ups are as effective as they are visually impressive especially when you’re boosting along full speed and suddenly hit someone’s smoke power-up, you’ll be wishing for the much easier to navigate squid ink from MarioKart.
There’s also been some great work with audio, packed with strong growling motors, and one liners from Duke (Nuke’em), you’re bound to find something that tickles your ear buds. While the background music isn’t quite as impressive, it’s still far from poor, and fits the atmosphere of the game well without talking the limelight away from the action.