Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Gas Guzzlers Extreme Review (XONE)

Arcade racers, at one time the undisputed kings of racing games, have been hit particularly hard by the disappearance of the mid-budget market since videogames went HD and development costs exploded in 2005.  Major publishers have focused almost entirely on simulation-style racers while most indie developers seem to want to make the same 2D platformers over and over again so arcade racers, at least on consoles, have almost gone extinct. 

Thankfully, there are still some fans of genre out there turning out fantastic arcade racers like Gas Guzzlers Extreme, out now on Xbox One.  This is oldschool arcade style racing with weapons, battle modes, zombies, and other craziness all wrapped in modern visuals to create the best arcade racer we’ve played in a decade.  It is everything genre fans could possibly want save for one glaring omission – there is no multiplayer, which is kind of a big deal.  See all of the details here in our full Gas Guzzlers Extreme review.

Game Details

  • Publisher: Iceberg Interactive
  • Developer: Gamepires
  • ESRB Rating: “T” for Teen
  • Genre: Racing
  • Pros: Fantastic arcade racing gameplay; customization options; tons of event types; lots of content overall
  • Cons: No multiplayer; long load times
  • MSRP: $25

Gas Guzzlers Extreme is sort of a “Mad Max”-inspired racing game where drivers with goofy names strap weapons and armor onto ordinary cars and then race and battle against each other.  The game features 21 vehicles that aren’t licensed, but are easily identifiable as to what real cars they were based on, that you can upgrade and customize to your liking.  There are 42 different tracks in 8 environments and 12 game modes to play in.  The game modes include standard races with no weapons, races with weapons, elimination races, a couple variants of arena battle modes, and even events where you blast through hordes of zombies. 

Most of the content is locked away when you first start, though, and have to play through dozens of events in order to unlock new cars, upgrades, and gameplay modes.  In a nice touch, you get to choose what events you run, so you can just do all battle modes if you want, all races, or any mix you want in between.  There is a ton of content in Gas Guzzlers Extreme that will have you playing for many, many hours to see it all.

For whatever reason, though, there is no multiplayer on Xbox One even though it is in the PC version of the game.  This is a game that is absolutely begging for multiplayer, particularly for the battle modes, but there is none to be found.  No splitscreen.  No Xbox Live.  Nothing.  I can’t stress enough how great and fun this game would be in multiplayer, but it isn’t available and that absolutely makes Gas Guzzlers Extreme harder to recommend.

Multiplayer really would have sealed the deal on Gas Guzzlers Extreme as a must-buy arcade racer because the core gameplay is awesome.  With simple straightforward controls, it just feels really good to play.  It doesn’t have a tremendous sense of speed, but it feels fast enough, controls well, and is really, really fun.  Upgrading and customizing your cars, trying new weapons, learning all of the shortcuts through the various courses – Gas Guzzlers Extreme is extremely well executed on all gameplay fronts.  Just imagine how fantastic it would be with multiplayer. 

The presentation in Gas Guzzlers Extreme is fairly good overall.  The car models are great looking and deform and explode really nice when they take enough damage.  The environments you race through aren’t spectacular looking, they look decent don’t get me wrong, but the game runs at a smooth framerate, which I’ll trade for pretty backgrounds any day.  Overall the sound is pretty solid with a soundtrack full of heavy metal guitars, but the engine sounds aren’t stellar and the repetitive “funny” one-liners from your driver (there are four character voices to choose from!) wear thin pretty quickly.  The load times are a bit of a downer as well as it takes a good minute or so to load into every event.

All in all, Gas Guzzlers Extreme is a game that seems like it has everything you’d want except for perhaps the most important mode of all – multiplayer.  It looks good, has a ton of content, and plays fantastically well and you’ll want to play it with friends but you can’t, and that’s a shame.  The lack of multiplayer has me a bit torn on the price, too.  On one hand, $25 is a lot to ask for a game missing such an obvious feature, but on the other hand there is a huge amount of single-player content to enjoy that is probably worth the $25 on its own.  In the end, my recommendation comes down to this:  If you expect an arcade racer to have multiplayer, and you’re disappointed that it doesn’t have multiplayer, don’t buy it.  But if you’re okay with the lack of multiplayer and just want a good single-player arcade racer to spend several fun hours with, Gas Guzzlers Extreme is absolutely worth a look.  It is easily the best arcade racer in years.
Disclosure: A review code was provided by the publisher.