[This article was based on a review copy provided by the publisher]
I've been trudging through Gamepires' Gas Guzzlers: Extreme, slowly making my way through the campaign mode and dabbling my finger digits into an exercise of multiplayer mayhem. Well, I can honestly say that the game definitely makes it easy to get into and the learning curve is practically nil.
Playing Gas Guzzlers: Extreme isn't much of an exercise of getting acquainted with controls or mechanics. As mentioned, there isn't much a learning curve given that the game was designed with a controller in mind and there's never any reason to have to touch the mouse or keyboard. The left and right triggers handle acceleration and braking, the 'Y' button is for nitro, the 'X' button is for firing weapons forward, the 'A' button is for dropping mines, oil and smoke canisters and the digital pad cycles weapons.
While the game's career mode starts you off with a basic vehicle and a starter weapon, the game eases you into newer vehicles and weapons based on your performance in races. Now I'll get into the career mode another time, but mostly I wanted to cover the game's mechanics and physics. For the most part each of the cars I've managed to get my hands on all seem to behave and react the same way, this may or may not turn some gamers off.
Basically, if you can drive one car you can drive all the cars in Gas Guzzlers: Extreme. Casual fans who prefer being able to get into the game and go will easily appreciate the affability in the design decision to allow for any and everyone to pick up and play the game. I can, however, see on the opposite side of the spectrum – hardcore simulation fans may not take too kindly to the lack of physics-based driving required in Gas Guzzlers: Extreme.
Anyone who has played the PC version of GTA IV with the realism mod will instantly know that each and every car handles vastly different in the game and accounting for the different physical principles makes it challenging and somewhat rewarding. This level of learning curve is not present in Gas Guzzlers, as players will instead focus on learning levels based on hitting turbo, laying down mines and blowing up opponents.
The most challenging thing about the driving is simply braking during turns but there's no downside to late breaking or any risk of over or under-steering when approaching the turns.
In a way, I can see how the top-layered approach to the game mechanics could dampen the game's overall appeal for long-term investment. You won't be uncovering a car's special handling tricks, or maintaining prescience of a track's turn(s) to avoid flipping over or spinning out.
Still, there is a bit of trickery to the weapon handling – learning what works and where still offers players some measure of skill and strategy to give Gas Guzzlers a modicum of skill during a race. Rockets require aligning the car just right, where-as the machine guns simply needs an opponent's car in relative sight.
Making use of the specials is also extremely important, even more-so than Bizarre Creations' Blur. Missing a repair pickup or a shield power-up in Gas Guzzlers: Extreme could spell instant doom, just the same as missing an ammo pickup or mine could afford you a loss as an opponent overtakes you and grabs the finish line.
So far, I'm still enjoying everything Gas Guzzlers: Extreme throws my way and the career mode is still shaping up to be rather enjoyable. Hopefully the multiplayer turns out to be just as enjoyable.
For more information feel free to pay a visit to the game's official website.