Gas Guzzlers Extreme First Impressions: Mario Kart Meets Mad Max
Oh man, Iceberg Interactive and Gamepires' Gas Guzzlers: Extreme is an intense thrillride that I wasn't expecting to be as and as addictive as it is. I only managed to get in a few races, which explains why this is a “First Impressions” article but they were very enjoyable races, nonetheless.
As a full disclosure before continuing, I should note that Reverb Communications provided us with a free review code for the game. Even though I'm still wrapping up the final impression piece(s) for Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn, I figured it wouldn't hurt to start early on the next set of impressions for a new game... Gas Guzzlers: Extreme.
So basically, this is the sequel to Gamepire's previous release, Gas Guzzlers. The original game received some fair praise and it was a game I had always kept on my radar but never actually got around to playing, so I would be lying if I said wasn't geeked to jump at the opportunity to see if the game was as fun as it looked. I'm happy to report that the game is as fun as it looks.
Now since I've never played the original, it's a hard sell for me to say how much the game has evolved or changed or what was tweaked, added, removed to enhance or elevate the experience beyond the original.
What I can say is that if you've never played Gas Guzzlers before then you're still in good hands with Gas Guzzlers: Extreme. The game is like Mario Kart meets Mad Max. Now if you're thinking this is like Blur, you're not half-wrong, but it's way more intense and hardcore than Blur.
My very first campaign race was an exciting display of chaos, confusion and pure adrenaline-pumping carnage. I loved every second of it.
But before getting into the nitty-gritty, let's talk about the game's features. There are a number of customization options available in the outset so you can fine-tune the visual experience to bet suit your computer's capabilities. The control methods can also be changed and customized as well, sporting everything from joysticks to keyboards to wheels. I didn't need to do any fiddling around as I just plugged in a 360 controller and went to work. It's almost as if this game was designed for game consoles because I didn't need to touch the keyboard once, save to start Fraps.
The game sports quick race, campaign mode and online multiplayer. I didn't get around to the multiplayer but I did do some campaign races and I'm here to tell you that they definitely get it done. It feels like a throwback to Twisted Metal and Vigilante 8 meets Need For Speed.
The game has a surprising amount of diversity to its offerings, which really struck me given that I wasn't expecting various race types, or rather, for the race types to have the kind of variance that they did. Power Race is a straight-through bump and grind race type where weapons aren't allowed. There's still plenty of carnage to be had on the track to make these fun and intense. Battle Race is exactly what it sounds like, and if you're unlucky enough to get destroyed that's the end of the line for you. The third race is a knockout variant where every lap the last person gets knocked out of the race, but players can also destroy each other as well, adding a strict sense of intensity and unpredictability to the race.
Visually, to be an indie game, Gas Guzzlers: Extreme looks superb. The visual effects compliment the game's aim for over-the-top, explosive road carnage quite well. What's more is that there's always a strong sense of speed, even with the newbie vehicles where they're slower and less capable than the higher-end machines. I'm curious to see how the faster vehicles behave at the higher levels, but for now, the game reminds me of a four-wheeled version of Road Rash, being able to maintain lots of derby-style destruction while simultaneously moving extremely fast.
Also, I should note that the damage models for the cars is excellent. Every bump, every shot, every explosion feels thick and meaty and the cars handle with proper arcade-style weight so just about anyone can pick up and play the game but there's definitely a learning curve to master the racing. I can dig it.
The customization is pretty limited and you can only upgrade cars once, but that means that players themselves will have to deliver the skill on the track as opposed to relying too much on stats to do the work for them. I've got no qualms about letting skill speak louder than stats.
My first impression of Gas Guzzlers: Extreme? I can assuredly attest to the game being extremely fun. Whether or not it can maintain that beyond a prima facie play-through remains to be seen, but the game definitely got off to a great start.
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