F-Zero GX

GameCube

Review by Review Contest 2003!

Nintendo

Racing

Graphics: 8

Sound: 9

Gameplay: 8

Overall: 8


 IĎm not a very big fan of the racing genre, however I donít like to limit my gaming to certain genres, and so very few racing games can grab me and lock me in. Simulations bore me to death (Gran Turismo 3 was good at first, but got boring real fast), and so itís usually more arcade like racers that I get into. Mario Kart for the Nintendo 64 is one of the only racers Iíve played more than an hour at a time, followed by Diddy Kong Racing (which introduced a story twist to the game). As the GameCube strives to be the best gaming console (notice how I said gaming?), itís AAA games continue to be released right when the console starts to drop. If you thought that Nintendoís games have been lacking any sort of a challenge lately, one race of F-Zero and your thoughts will change. Ikaruga was challenging and SC2 on the Extreme difficulty is pretty hard, but F-Zero takes the word ďdifficultyĒ to new ďextremeĒ levels. Extreme speed, extreme challenge, extreme game - gaming to the max.

Gameplay

If there were one word, other than various four letter curse words, that could describe F-Zero GX - INSANE would be it. Racing at speeds up to 2500kph is insane enough, but with 29 other racers and some loopy tracks, the game just explodes with gameplay. First of all, even on Normal mode, F-Zero GX has the difficulty of a gigantic size. The story mode in F-Zero is a welcomed addition to the game, but itís not really all that good. Thatís ok though, because the single-player Grand Prix, multiplayer, and Garage modes back up the lack of an interesting story. Story mode progresses in chapters, and after completing one chapter, youíll receive a certain number of tickets (usually 15, even on Hard and Very Hard difficulties) that you can spend in the shop. After beating a chapter in story mode, instead of the next chapter opening up, you have to BUY the next chapter from the store. B eating each chapter is downright hellacious, but having to use tickets that could go towards buying new racers or creating a customized vehicle is mean. Thatís not to say the game is any less great, itís just that the tickets won should be used for things other than buying each chapter for story mode. I guess beating a particular chapter thatís so dang hard on Hard or Very Hard mode just isnít enough for the next chapter to unlock.

Story mode aside, the Grand Prix and Garage mode are where the gameplay rule. There are three cups, Ruby, Sapphire, and Emerald with three difficulty levels each. Eventually a fourth cup is unlocked, the Diamond Cup. Each cup consists of five tracks, each with a difficulty rating of 1-5 stars (5 being the hardest). Youíll receive a certain amount of points depending on what position you finished at, and the goal is to have the most points to win at the end of 5 races. So now if you donít get first in every single race, you still have a chance at coming out on top overall. Thatís not to say that you canít place first in every race for an even 500 score overall, but if you screw up near the end of a race that puts you back into 4th or 5th place or something, you can just make it up in the next race. After completing each cup in the top 3, youíll receive more tickets to spend in the shop.

There are 30 different characters in the game (most of them you have to buy in order to use them yourself), and when you're speeding around different tracks, you start to defy the laws of gravity. Each character differs in stats, but have similar names, looks, and vehicles as each other. Captain Falcon for example, has two other look alike characters just with different names and different colored ships. Most of the difficulty comes in play with the other racers bumping into you and slowing you down (or in the last race of the Sapphire Cup, bumping you off into space so you have to retire). You are neck in neck with 29 other racers as you boost and maneuver your way around the tracks. There are yellow boosts placed at certain places on the track and by speeding over them will give you a boost, obviously. Youíve also got your own boost after completing the first lap (for any race) that gets its power from your energy bar in the top right corner, which can be fueled back up when driving over the multicolored plasma parts on the track. If your energy runs out and you get hit by anything, you blow up. If you get rammed in the back by another racer when your energy is real low, you blow up. If you hit a wall when your energy is almost empty, you blow up.

Using boosts and learning to take sharp turns with the L and R buttons is key to winning races. The first few racers may seem easy, but then the difficulty sky rockets. Once youíre racing on harder difficulties, youíll be behind most of the race if you falter but once, because the AI racers DO use their boosts. Iíve always hated the fact that you could use boosts and special weapons, but the AI wouldnít use any of it. Now, the AI not only use the boosts, but theyíre also dirty little sneaks this time around also. Thereís a spin attack you can use to knock racers out, but I found it more to be a hassle than helping you.

Multiplayer is fun, though when half or more (depending on how many players) of your screen is gone, itís not as fun as single player where everything just explodes on screen. When you win the different circuits, new parts will also be unlocked as well. You can buy the different parts and customize a racer to your liking, paint job and all. Each part is rated on a letter scale of A-E, A being the best and E being the worst. The more circuits you beat, the better parts that are unlocked to buy.

Graphics

The effects that take place in F-Zero are spectacular Neon lighting flashes that flash before your face as you speed around each track, and the special effects w ill blow your mind. None of the tracks look like the same, and so theyíve all got their own unique theme and feel to them. Full of turns, twists, and otherwise gravity defying loopy corkscrews - track designs are magnificent. Pushing a constant 60 fps even while breaking bones in a group of 29 racers and speeding through at speedís faster than 1500kph, F-Zero is smooth as silk. The racers all pretty much look the same during a race, so you canít really tell what the vehicle designs are unless youíre on the character select screen or the Pilot Profiles. Theyíve all pretty much got their own color, but some of the designs look almost exactly alike. The only real differences are the stats and the pilot.

There are some pretty looking FMVs before and after each chapter in story mode. They arenít all that breathtaking and have a grainy look to them, but they still look nicer than a lot of FMV heavy games.

Audio/Sound
I have not played any of the previous F-Zero installments, but I can stay this, the techno music is definitely in. There were a few places where I enjoyed the music more than work, but as a whole I liked the entire soundtrack in the game. The sound effects are really nice, mainly the power boosters. The futuristic effects, along with excellent graphics, really create the environment of the futuristic world

Overall

F-Zero GX is a must have for any racing fan, those looking for a challenge, or those who are fans of Sega. Segaís Amusement Vision house worked on F-Zero. Furthering Nintendoís connectivity fetish, F-Zero GX is compatible with the arcade machine (if youíre lucky to find one) where you can unlock new tracks. F-Zero GX definitely will not appeal to casual gamers because of the difficulty level, but those who can overcome the high frustration level, F-Zero is the most enjoyable racer this year and only has Mario Kart: Double Dash for competition later this year. Challenge is good right? By the way, if there is no arcade near you, you can still unlock all the AX goodies through GX. Just beat everything on Master difficulty and you'll unlock the AX unlockables, nothing big...

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Last updated: Sunday, February 08, 2004 12:42 PM