Reviewed on Xbox One; also available on Playstation 4 and PC.
I’ve had the chance to witness numerous friendly—and not so friendly—video game debates both in person and more commonly on social networks. One of the old topics that comes into my mind right away is the following: arcade racers are seen as lower-tier due to the “lack of skill” required to play them.
While this argument might have some truth to it, it doesn’t necessarily mean arcade racing games are easier or worse than simulation games in general. In my opinion, I actually prefer an arcade style as opposed to a simulation style, simply because the genre usually offers more gameplay features than games designed to emulate reality. In addition to that, sometimes being less serious means more fun, so keep that in mind.
Gas Guzzlers Extreme is a fairly good combination of destructive racing and vintage humor, featuring a wide range of customizable vehicles and a pretty nice set of weapons. Certain elements of the game feel as though they were developed at least twenty years ago, and I mean this in a very positive way. Hilarious names like Nick O’ Tyne, Sam Urai, Bjorn Toulouse and Yuri Diculous, and the ads or even the fictitious sponsors immediately hit you with a sense of vintage humor rarely seen outside the likes of Carmeggedon or even Grand Theft Auto. It’s a style that is surely missed.
Everything about Gas Guzzlers Extreme’s visual style screams of nostalgia. Sharp edges and the high amount of blur on road textures at high speed are extremely reminiscent of original Xbox racers such as the ever-amazing Burnout 3 or even Need for Speed: Underground. The liveries and boxy designs of the game’s vehicles bring back the feel of racers from the early ‘90s, immediately reminding me of the original Sega Rally. While racing, however, there’s definitely a major resolution difference between the cars and tracks, but you know what? I love that! Its own distinctness between the cars and tracks somehow provides a retro and modern hybrid which I love very much. Many people might get annoyed by this though.
Some people may believe that the environment of a race isn’t really a big deal but that’s most definitely false. Track environments play a huge role in allowing a player to be fully immersed in their situation and that’s something Gas Guzzlers Extreme provides with ease thanks to its genuinely impressive landscape variety. One day I was racing on a professional circuit, next I was in an Egyptian desert. Each and every one of the game’s tracks felt unique and had their own individual shortcuts that you need to learn in order to shave those few precious seconds off your lap time.
In the game’s single-player campaign, your main objective is to climb your way to the top of a points-based leaderboard. You do this by beating your opponents in races which, in turn, get you sponsored by various different fictitious brands and sponsors as mentioned earlier. Getting sponsored rewards you with various decals to make your ride your own, customizing your car however you want. Sometimes it is just about style, am I right?
Gas Guzzlers Extreme takes no chances and you’ll pay a high price for every mistake you make. Let’s say your good performance on the early laps puts you in first place; keeping it will be as exciting as you could expect, especially when power-ups are involved. That’s right, Gas Guzzlers is as insane as it gets, especially when guns like the shotgun or rocket launcher are allowed. Think Carmeggedon but crazier.
Before each race, Gas Guzzlers Extreme allows you to purchase different weapons to try and get a sneaky little edge on your enemies. In addition to the weapon arsenal available for purchase, you’ll be able to encounter stun grenades, land mines, smoke and oil to make your enemies slide out Mario Kart-style as pick-up items on the track. There are also double damage and shield power-ups too; anything goes, as long as they get the job done. There’s even a Battle Log located to the left side of the screen to show you what’s going on elsewhere on the track. What happened to someone behind you? Oh, he got shredded by a minigun! A handy check of your Battle Log will reveal all.
Gas Guzzlers isn’t just straight-up racing all the time though…well, as straight-up racing as Gas Guzzlers gets anyways. Developers Gamepires have made some little tweaks here and there to further mine away any monotony that Gas Guzzlers may have had. Quick Race may feature normal or standard races but there’s also a destructive race type to try or even event modes such as zombie survival waves or the amazing destruction derby, as well as others.
The sound section is where Gas Guzzlers truly shines with some of the most satisfying engine roars and explosions I’ve heard in a long time. The instrumental heavy metal soundtrack also fits this game like a glove. Aggressive guitar licks followed by solid drum beats and devastating bass lines during loading times and races puts the player in the right mood. It’s unbelievable how a good song selection can really make a difference when playing.
Gas Guzzlers Extreme has one glaring issue, for me anyways. Nowadays, in my opinion, you can’t simply develop a racing game, whether it’s arcade or not, without any kind of multiplayer mode and get away with it. There are a large amount of indie racing games on Xbox One and as far as I remember the majority of them allows you to measure your driving skills against a stranger or a friend in real time. Gas Guzzlers Extreme, while advertised with and having a PC version on Steam with multiplayer, for some reason lacks this feature on Xbox One. Without online mode somehow this game feels hollow, especially for its genre.
The game actually has a fairly wide vehicle roster, however, there’s not really much difference between each one when you get to the point where you’ll unlock them. The more expensive, and therefore faster at base model, vehicles usually aren’t really worth the upgrade when you’ve been pouring money into your existing ride to keep you able to stand your own in races. When you do get a new car though, it’s really exciting and any boost in speed is welcome when you’re playing a racer such as this.
In any game that features weapons, whether it be a racer or a shooter, the least you’d expect is a proper aiming system. That doesn’t seem to be the case with Gas Guzzlers Extreme. This is the most unpolished part of the game and is undoubtedly a very important part of it. If you want to shoot something in Gas Guzzlers Extreme, you point in a straight line or you don’t shoot that weapon at all. This forces the player to approach rival cars before even considering pressing the shoot button since ammo is pretty limited. It’s so hard to land a shot and it takes so many to destroy an opponent that it can be quite annoying at times.
After a repetitive and slow start due to the slight grinding process, Gas Guzzlers Extreme starts feeling exciting, while delivering tons of wild arcade racing fun, just like the good old classics did back in the day. However, it’s a huge bummer that this version of the game lacks any form of online multiplayer like its Steam counterpart.
“Review appeared on Metacritic for http://ICXM.net “