Review by Malorkus

"Lightspeed."

Imagine Earth in the year 3000. How will future technology shift our world? Will hover-cars become a standard means of transportation? Will global hunger have been eliminated? Whatever scenario unfolds, one thing is certain - the future of racing knows no bounds. There is no more NASCAR. There is only F-Zero GX, an intense, full-throttle futuristic racer that will make the toughest drill sergeants run home crying to their nannies. It is a game that laughs in your face and taunts your racing abilities. And it's gratifying. Nintendo and Sega have set their differences aside in order to create a product that not only breathes new life into a stale genre, but tests the limits of the most hardcore racers. This is intensity, and the racing genre as a whole, taken to a new extreme.

Thirty-plus racers are at your disposal to crash and burn in competitive and often-violent races. Grand Prix mode challenges players in the game's assorted cups to compete for first prize. Difficulty settings can be adjusted accordingly, though the “pay-off” is much higher the greater you set your challenge. The courses themselves are gorgeous, futuristic highways that twist and loop in senses that defy gravitational laws. A few have you spiraling your way through the whole course on airborne cylinders, while others take you boosting off huge slopes at descents that exceed 1,500 kilometers per hour. Boosters are laid at points to electrify your vehicle temporarily and allow you to either bypass an opponent, or completely ram them off the track. In F-Zero GX, once you retire by falling off the track, you are gone for good. No re-spawning on the track. You are dead.

Not only must you be aggressive, but a defensive approach is perhaps even more vital in the long run. A meter at the top of your screen represents your vehicle's health, which is depleted whenever boosts are executed or you come into contact with a wall or another vehicle. Weakened vehicles flash red, meaning they are ripe for the killing by a Spin Attack. When using this attack, however, controls become virtually impossible for a few seconds, and the odds of you defeating an opposing vehicle seems less than destroying yourself by losing control. Currency won during the Grand Prix can be used to purchase special parts from the garage, where you can also piece vehicle parts together, adding a nice element of customization to the game.

In the Story Mode, the solo player will take control of Captain Falcon to defeat his foes on the track. The mode is divided into “chapters” and are accompanied by extremely cheesy FMV scenes, with hilariously cliched dialogue like “You're going down, Falcon!” or “You're all going to die! Say goodbye to your loved ones!” Missions are not just limited to racing, as you will also be required to destroy vehicles, complete a course within a time limit, or collect items on the track. Story Mode is not the most exciting aspect of the game, and can get too infuriating on higher difficulties. In fact, F-Zero GX has become notorious for its extreme difficulty. Mastering each track will take you countless failed attempts, and especially in higher Grand Prix classes, be prepared to replay them for hours. Even the lower difficulties are no joke. The demanding obstacles are rarely unfair, but they require you to play as close to perfect as possible over a lengthy stretch.

F-Zero GX is also a racing game oddball in that the multi-player is less polished than the single-player. Granted, there's nothing more amusing than knocking your friends off the course's boundaries in the midst of a ten-second free-fall, but since the game moves so quickly, the compressed screen for each of the player's windows makes scanning the horizon very difficult, which is vital on courses with 180-degree hairpin turns. With only two players, you can switch between vertical horizontal windows, but either way, you are restricted.

F-Zero GX is one of the most intense racing experiences out there, but also one of the most rewarding. It makes even its speedy predecessors look primitive. Not only are the game's courses absolutely breathtaking from a visual standpoint, but the overall experience is incredibly rewarding, especially for those with the patience and the sanity to seek the game's greatest secrets. The game's soundtrack is perhaps just as impressive, ranging from upbeat European pop to blaring electric guitar riffs. It is punishing, and the words “Mission Failed” are bound to stay in your head forever, but it rarely feels too unfair outside Story Mode. A skimpy multi-player mode cannot hunker this title down, especially with such a strong single-player offering compared to most otger racing games on the market. As long as you do not mind getting your ass kicked a lot, give this thrill ride a whirl.


Reviewer's Rating:   4.5 - Outstanding

Originally Posted: 11/26/07, Updated 09/16/16

Game Release: F-Zero GX (US, 08/26/03)

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