GameCube Review: F-Zero GX

Thirty hovercars? Check. Armor? Check. Boosts? Check. Insane loopy levels that whip by with enough speed to shoot up an NFL team? Check.

Sounds like an F-Zero game. Must be. Welcome to F-Zero GX.

The F-Zero series has a dear place amongst racing fans, starting all the way back on Super Nintendo. That particular incarnation featured four racers in a variety of ultramodern racetracks against a well-executed artificial intelligence that would use any devious ploy to make the player crash out. It's nice to know that some things don't change.

GX may be the latest in the series with an expanded cast, updated graphics, and more unlockables than you can shake a stick at, but it remains true to the premise of the original game: deliver a fast furious futuristic racer where death is but an eye-blink away.

The meat of the F-Zero series has always been its standard Grand Prix series of races. GX features fifteen standard tracks divided into three cups, but two unlockable cups will bring the track total to over twenty. Players choose a ship and race it through five races, gaining points toward a cumulative total after each race. Since a car can fly off the track, resulting in immediate disqualification, GX offers a limited number of continues for each Grand Prix. Winning the overall Grand Prix earns credits and possibly unlocks a new feature.

Veterans to the series will recognize new variations on old themes within the course designs. Expectedly, the earlier courses and cups are notably easier than their later counterparts, enabling even the greenest novice to pick up the game without insurmountable difficulty. Courses will vary according to their environment and often have a number of surprises for the newcomers; they can feature sudden splits, gaps in the track, jumps that send cars far into the air, abrupt turns, speed boosts, and much more. Not content with having simple, flat-panel tracks, some courses can run on the insides of tubing in which the player must pay careful attention lest they start simply rotating instead of moving forward, or conversely, tracks can travel along the outer shell of tubes, a dizzying experience for the uninitiated.

As per series norm, after the first lap, cars gain the ability to boost; boosting grants a short significant speed burst at the expense of shield power. Boosting is a useful means of attacking the other drivers, but this must be balanced with the knowledge that running out of power will slow the car down and eventually destroy it. Players can refill their power gauge by traveling along special sections of the track, and they also have the ability to launch forward or side-to-side attacks.

While only a handful of cars is available initially, players can purchase a wide variety of vehicles, each with their own unique driver and stats. Different stats will determine the car's body strength, boosting power, and gripping might; this leads to a significant number of racing styles developed around a car's strengths and weaknesses. Players can also purchase parts from a shop and build their own custom vehicle complete with unique decals.

GX features a number of other modes including practice, four-player versus, time attack, and the all-new story mode. Story mode follows Captain Falcon's adventures in the racing circuit, and features interesting challenges set within game tracks. For instance, Falcon might have to collect certain items scattered across a track within a time limit.

Varying difficulty across all modes deepens the replayability factor. Beating cups on the highest difficulty usually leads to great rewards, so there is incentive to continue practicing. Practice will be needed by most players since the large number of intelligent opponents will wreck havoc at higher levels.

GX is notable in that it features interaction with the arcade game F-Zero AX. Taking a memory card to the arcade machine, players can reap benefits in GX by placing well in the AX game.

Graphically, GX brings a new standard to the old favorite. Tracks and characters are detailed and well rendered with a smooth and fast frame-rate. The story FMV sequences are up to par and breathe life into iconic characters. Aurally, the game features a diverse soundtrack with each musical piece somewhat fitting the nature of track.

Overall, GX comes recommended to racing fans and veterans of the series. While intuitive to learn, its steep difficulty may deter dilettante players. With plenty of options, varying modes, and difficulty settings, GX should keep most players busy for hours on end.

F-Zero GX is a rated T (Teen) by the ESRB for Fantasy Violence.

Post a comment

(If you haven't left a comment here before, you may need to be approved by the site owner before your comment will appear. Until then, it won't appear on the entry. Thanks for waiting.)


Warning: include(/home/meancode/public_html/breakingwindows/footer.php): failed to open stream: Permission denied in /home/breaking/public_html/2006/01/gamecube_review_fzero_gx.php on line 183

Warning: include(): Failed opening '/home/meancode/public_html/breakingwindows/footer.php' for inclusion (include_path='.:/usr/lib/php:/usr/local/lib/php') in /home/breaking/public_html/2006/01/gamecube_review_fzero_gx.php on line 183

Blogcritics Magazine

Social Networking

Mac Headlines

Read up-to-date headlines on everything Mac.

Content provided by prMac.

ESRB Search

Creative Commons License
This weblog is licensed under a Creative Commons License.
Enhanced with Snapshots