STAFF REVIEW of Gas Guzzlers Extreme (Xbox One)

Sunday, December 4, 2016.
by Adam Dileva

Gas Guzzlers Extreme Box art Truth be told, for how long I’ve been doing game reviews, I can generally get a good sense of how I’m going to enjoy it even before playing it after watching and reading up on it. Sometimes I’m dead on and know I’m not going to enjoy a game, and other times I’m taken completely by surprise. Case in point, I initially thought Gas Guzzlers Extreme was going to be a play once and be done with it type of game, but alas, it took me by surprise and I ended up enjoying much more than I initially thought I would. While it has its shortcomings, it brought me back to the days of playing arcade combat racers that paved the way like Carmageddon and Twisted Metal.

For fans of the arcade style of racing, Gas Guzzlers Extreme may not be the most known out there, but it has a lot of potential fun behind the wheel. You won’t be worrying about realistic physics, but instead trying to blow your opponents up so you can be first across the finish line, or the last one left in the race. Vehicular combat isn’t anything new, but Gas Guzzlers Extreme tries to do it with a sense of humor, poking fun at itself in a Duke Nukem or hilarious Arnold parody voice, which I’ll explain shortly.

Career mode is where you’ll be spending the bulk of your racing time, revolving around you earning point sin events to eventually becoming the top earner on the leaderboard. There are multiple types of races and events to participate in, some of which will earn you more or less points based on your standings at the end of each. The more dangerous the events, especially the ones with weaponry, the more points potential you can earn, whereas standard races are less risky, but you earn less rewards as well.

It takes a while to earn enough points to make your way to the top of the leaderboards which then grants you access to the final tournament, consisting of one of each type of event. Win those and you earn your reward for that whole tournament, moving onto the next and unlocking new rewards and events. Given that you can choose the type of event you want to participate in every time, the career doesn’t feel very structured, as you simply need to grind out enough races until you reach the needed points to try and win the cup. This causes repetition to kick in, and while there are the odd special events that pop up here and there, I didn’t really enjoy most of these one-off events like capture the flag, but at least there’s an attempt to break up the monotony.

I was surprised at how well the game controlled. Sometimes with smaller name racers the steering mechanics can be all over the place, usually more frustrating than fun, but that’s not the case here with Gas Guzzlers Extreme. Don’t expect any type of simulation racing, but the cars handle well, can be upgraded, and you’ll unlock better cars to purchase the further you progress.

You’ll earn money for not only winning, but destroying opponents, smashing objects, and even squishing chickens. There are even random subquests in each event for you to try and complete for a chance at earning even more money, like destroying a certain amount of enemies with mines or making sure a certain racer doesn’t place in the top 3. As you start winning events you’ll unlock new car decals, parts, and even cars for purchase, and eventually you’ll have so much money in the bank that you won’t have any issues affording any upgrades or new cars after a few hours of play. Start winning enough races in a row and sponsors will want you to race for them, giving your car a special paint job and letting you earn even more bonus money. Once you start losing though, no one will want you to represent them and you’ll be back on your own.

You’ll become very familiar with the tracks, not only because you’ll be racing on them numerous times repeatedly, but because there’s only a handful of them. After a dozen races or so on the same track, it can become a little tiresome, but this is also how you learn the best shortcuts in each map. There are different themed tracks, some more confined while others are a little more open, but you’ll be more focused on destroying your opponents and trying to make it to the finish line rather than taking in the sights.

Speaking of your opponents, the AI does a decent job at playing at your skill level. While it does seem like there’s a bit of unfair rubber-banding at times, the AI can sometimes be very ruthless, trying to ram into you at every opportunity or gunning right for you. The constant adjusting of the AI means that no race is a shoe-in and it always feel frantic, even on the easiest setting. To win races you’ll need plenty of nitro, and to earn it you either need to grab the power-ups littered throughout the track or by destroying objects and eliminating your opponents.

Given that this is a combat racer, what kind would it be without an arsenal full of deadly weaponry? You can equip shoguns, machine guns, and even rocket launchers based on your preference. Each has pro’s and con’s, and some can even shoot backwards if you tend to always be in the lead. Ammo needs to be refilled which is done by collecting the appropriate power-up during the races, or purchasing a refill in the garage between events. As you race you’ll pick up other special one-time use items like shields, mines, smoke clouds, and more. I wish the game had an introductory tutorial that explained everything though, as it took a few races to figure out what icons meant what and how to use your items properly. To be honest, I still don’t know how to tell when I’m close to out of ammo for my main weapon, so it shows that it’s not always explained very well.

Gas Guzzlers Extreme really sets itself apart from others in the genre with its humor though. Sure a manchild like myself can’t stop but giggle at the announcer with a terrible Arnold voice doing terrible one-liners, but it’s funny and something you don’t see in this type of genre often. Sure the lines get repeated after a while, but it’s still entertaining none the less. Also, you’ll notice that the AI opponent’s names are terrible puns, like Lou Briccant, Otto Mobile, and Alotta Fagina among others, but someone immature as myself will get a chuckle out of them.

Normally this is where I would talk about multiplayer, and while its PC release included it, it’s sorely lacking from the Xbox One edition for some reason. Given that the career mode does become repetitive and mundane after a half dozen hours, multiplayer could have added more value and longevity, but it’s nowhere to be found unfortunately, which is a huge mark against it.

As I said before, I honestly wasn’t expecting much when I was about to start Gas Guzzlers Extreme, but I enjoyed it much more than I initially expected. It has flaws, like a missing online multiplayer component, but it’s a fun way to spend a half hour or hour here and there. Playing for hours at a time will become tiresome, but it’s a great title to play in some downtime. While it’s not going to go down in the history books in the genre amongst the greats like Twisted Metal and Carmageddon, it’s immature and over the top, which is what you sometimes want in a combat racer once in a while, much like your favorite fast food that you know you shouldn’t eat, but you enjoy when you do.

Overall: 7.3 / 10
Gameplay: 7.5 / 10
Visuals: 7.0 / 10
Sound: 7.5 / 10


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