Review by Bizzarclown13

"Soft-core Gamers Need Not Apply"

Synopsis:
F-Zero Machines speed at insane velocities, hovering over tracks which float miles above their respective planets. Coveting the prize money and the prestige of 1st place, the entry fee for the F-Zero Grand Prix just may be too costly: your machine...or your life!

Story:
The F-Zero Grand Prix dates back to the 26th Century, and is known as the fastest and most dangerous race in the known universe. The race features machines which hover inches over the track and are capable of speeds over 2000 kph, and can exceed the speed of sound. The courses, called circuits, are gargantuan in size, and are situated high in the atmosphere on the outskirts of cities.

New to this entry in the F-Zero series is the Story Mode, in which the players take control of returning F-Zero champion (and mysterious bounty hunter) Captain Falcon and his Blue Falcon machine. As gorgeous CG cutscenes unfold, we get to see Falcon interact in this futuristic world, and then we partake in a challenging, dangerous mission. After a chapter in Story Mode is completed, the next chapter may be purchased in the game's F-Zero Shop. Since F-Zero's pilots run the gamut of aliens, cyborgs, androids, humans with vendettas, ex-military, hitmen, and so forth, the Story mode will keep you riveted as this eccentric group's motives clash. The missions Falcon must undertake vary from the mundane (collecting capsules while racing in his holo-simulator), to the quite dangerous (racing vs. Samurai Goroh through the canyon as enormous boulders litter the track). It'll keep you coming back for more.---9

Gameplay:
F-Zero GX has managed to carry over the classic gameplay from the past games in the series, while still somehow keeping the game fresh. The gameplay is truly where F-Zero GX excels, and F-Zero veterans will NOT be disappointed. The fantastic sense of dizzying speed is maintained solidly, even while the tight controls let you have precise control of your machine. This game offers plenty of varying game modes to keep any die-hard fan busy. The standard Grand Prix mode consists of 3 different cups: Ruby, Sapphire, and Emerald; each of these consists of 5 different circuits (tracks), and can be played on three gut-wrenching difficulty levels versus 29 other computer-controlled opponents, where your difficulty level determines how many continues you get.(The Diamond Cup can be unlocked later on. I pity the fool.)Grand Prix also lets you win Game Tickets which are used at your discretion to purchase new machines, machine parts, or chapters in Story Mode. Then there is Versus mode, in which you and 3 other players can go head to head and battle it out. And yes, you still barrel down the track at the same speeds, despite the 4-player split screen. Time Attack and Practice mode let you get your groove on so you can master these sometimes impossible-seeming circuits. And its a good thing, too, because you'll definitely need the practice. Time Attack lets you race versus your own ghosts if you like (transparent machines that represent your previous runs). Practice Mode is utterly customizable: pick your course, Lap number, difficulty, number of CPU racers, and Restore, which lets you continue immediately on the course, rather than retire. And of course, the game keeps track of all your records, and you can view replays of your best runs whenever you like, memory card space pending. Another new feature to the series is its customizability (see below).

And through all these great game modes, F-Zero's core mechanic of speed vs. control is quite simply fun and addictive. While on the outside it may appear to be a simple (but ludicrously fast) racer, the game is surprisingly deep. It's never as simple has ''hitting turbo'' over and over, because the game forces you to balance this with your machine's energy level. The difficulty level of the game is ramped oh-so-perfectly, always giving you a challenge, but never impossible. I've never really considered myself to be a fan of racing games at all, but the gameplay of F-Zero has me hooked, and will most likely hook you, despite your inclination (or hatred) to (normal) driving games.---10

Graphics:
Remember back when the original F-Zero launched alongside the SNES? The Mode 7 technology in the SNES let gamers cruise along at speeds unknown at that time. The series was updated with F-Zero X on N64, and while machines were finally racing in full 3-D, the sometimes blocky graphics and not-so-fast courses were somewhat lacking. Finally, the ultimate incarnation of F-Zero has arrived on the GameCube! What can I say? This game is gorgeous! The frame rate never drops below 60 frames per second, even in 4-player mode, and the sense of speed of unparalleled. The courses offer lots of variety (cities, forests, lava, oceans, desert, etc.), and even the backgrounds team with activity and detail (look for Rob the Robot in Port Town!) Everything from the worn-rather-than-polished look of the F-Zero machines, to the glow of their engines, to the CG pilots in the Story Mode, the graphics of this game are top-notch. If I had one complaint, it would be in the lip-synching abilities of the characters, but I'm sure we can all assume its the same character models as the Japanese version. Other than this little nit-pick, the graphics rock.---10

Sound/Music:
The sound effects all fit like a glove. Turbo boosts, the hum of the machines' engines, and the zoooom of your rivals passing you sound perfect. The music is a mix of techno-beats and 80's guitar rock, the same cheesy-style background music of the previous games, with even cheesier lyrics. Its often catchy, sometimes corny, yet somehow fitting.---8

Control:
If it weren't for the tight controls, the game would not be as ultimately fun and playable as it is. They are truly a dream, and give you the precise feeling of control that you might need to pilot a machine beyond the speed of sound. The A button is used to accelerate, while B is your airbrakes. Y is used to boost, while Z and X are used to spin-smash opponents (hopefully off the track and into oblivion). The control pad can be used to change camera view, though you'll probably feel comfortable with the standard view. And of course the L and R shoulder buttons are used to slide turn and drift turn through right-angle corners. The game can actually be played with the Logitech Steering wheel accessory, but I can't see how it would afford you the tight feeling of the GameCube controller. Maybe it'd best be used to practice for playing F-Zero AX, in the arcade? Hmmm.---10

Replay Value:
F-Zero is packed with lots of great gameplay features to keep you picking up that controller. The Grand Prix mode is hard enough and rewarding enough (read: Game Tickets) to make you want to play. On top of that, the higher difficulty settings and later cups make it almost mandatory to play the Time Attack and Practice modes. And with a cast of varied, over-the-top characters and quickly ramping difficulty, the Story mode keeps you hooked. Versus Mode is quite simply good fun; it just doesn't get old knocking your best friend off the course and into oblivion! ;D But I wouldn't be doing the game justice without praising its utterly customizable Garage mode. In it, you tailor your machine to suit your driving, and I'm not talking about straight A's in Body, Boost, and Grip. You get to purchase various ship parts with varying functionality and appearance, and you can set the acceleration vs. top speed to your tastes once again as well. Let's not forget picking your pilot, color of your machine, and the ability to paste on emblems and decals via a Mario Paint-esque tool. As if all these features weren't enough, you can take your F-Zero GX memory card to the arcades to play F-Zero AX (Sept. 2003), continuing to purchase exclusive machine parts, unlock new things on your F-Zero GX, and receive passwords that allow you to rank your scores/times with players around the world via the Internet. Boo-yah! I don't know about you, but I can't wait to give F-Zero AX a go; time to save your quarters.---10

Rent/Buy:
For me, F-Zero GX was a must-buy from the moment I saw the first screenshot, mostly because I'm an F-Zero veteran since the old days of SNES. Honestly, the difficulty of the game may be off-putting to casual gamers, but on the flip-side, F-Zero veterans with love it and savor it. Thank the gaming gods they didn't produce another game that can be completed in a day or two (I'm talking about you, Luigi's Mansion and Pikmin!) I hate to be so one-sided in my review, but from a fan's perspective, I can't see how the game could be any better. So if you consider yourself a fan of the series, this should be a no-brainer for you: buy, buy, buy!. If you have your doubts, or you have never played an F-Zero game in your life, I challenge you to rent this gem of a game and get your multiplayer on with a group of friends. I don't think you'll be disappointed, so I consider this a must-rent.

Overall:
Nintendo and Sega have succeeded in their mission in producing a high-quality, beautifully polished racing game for the GameCube. F-Zero GX should be a welcome, challenge-filled addition to any gamer's library, but the softcore need not apply.---10


Reviewer's Score: 10/10 | Originally Posted: 08/28/03


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