Review by day2

"The best F-Zero yet!"

When F-Zero's sequel finally arrived on the N64 in 1998, it was met to much praise by everyone. The system of gameplay was reworked from the Super NES version in such a way that it could only be described as perfect. The two most amazing aspects of F-Zero X was it's ridiculous speed combined with thirty different racers, all with their eyes set on 1st place. Due to the N64's limitations, F-Zero X was unfortunately held back in the graphical detail in order keep the two aspects mentioned above running at an unbelievable 60 FPS. Times have changed and F-Zero is holding nothing back now. Sega's development team, Amusement Vision (developers of the Super Monkey Ball series) have the created the ultimate F-Zero racer.

GAMEPLAY

F-Zero game is an arcade racer, the polar opposite of what Mario Kart games represent. You race on tracks thousands of feet up in the sky on hovercrafts that are attracted by magnetism to the roadways. There are no weapons or power ups to pick up of any kind, as everything are done by your own hovercraft. Normally, when your car explodes in any way; you lose and must restart the race. If you don't mind this, then you'll most likely get some enjoyment out of this title.

There are plenty of places to start when first playing F-Zero GX. Most of time will be spent in the Grand Prix; you compete in various cups, five laps each. You will race against 29 other opponents with goal of being overall number one. Before each race starts, you set a bar in between the two extremes of acceleration and speed which will directly affect how your car handles in each race. There is a point system built into the Grand Prix in which the higher your place the more points you receive; these points in turn add up over the five consecutive races. If one never reaches 1st place in a race do not lose all hope, as the computer player's places are not set in stone. The best cars for any particular track are however more than likely going to win if they make no mistakes. After the first lap, your car is able to use boost power, which taps into your health bar. Only through strategic use of your boost should you have a chance of winning the coveted 1st place ranking.

As stated before, there are no weapons that any F-Zero vehicle shoots per se, but there are several aggressive attack maneuvers that can create some very satisfying situations. The lightly used 360 spin has now been fully integrated into some of the track designs and is easier to pull off as well, which is a welcome improvement. The A.I of the computer opponents is vastly improved over the N64 version and provides a great challenge that will keep you either going fast or being destroyed in various ways. With the completely overhauled physics system, you will be destroyed in a variety of different ways.

The most significant edition is the story mode in which you race as Captain Falcon through specially designed tracks with varying mission objectives. At one point, you may be trying to beat one racer while simultaneously dodging falling boulders on a track. Although the difficulty of these challenges can be frustratingly difficult at times, a persistent gamer should eventually be able to complete every mission, at least on the normal difficulty level. The story mode is successful because not only does it bring the F-Zero characters into a cohesive world that makes sense and does not seem out of place, but also teaches you how to race much more skillfully with all your moves.

F-Zero GX has an interesting way in which you obtains the items you unlock. Every time one successfully wins grand prix, a story mission, or something else of significance, they gain tickets that can be used to purchase to all their treasures in the F-Zero shop. The missions in the story mode also require you to buy them (except for the first), so some people will need to successfully complete other gameplay modes in order to proceed further in the story mode. Skilled players can actually complete the story missions on the harder difficulty levels to progress without distraction.

All of this would mean nothing if the tracks were worthless; it is fortunate then, that the courses in F-Zero GX are the best ever for this series. Amusement Vision has the created some of the most elaborate course designs ever, for any racing game to date! Nearly every course is meticulously designed to pure perfection, with a generous amount of shortcuts for you to discover yourself. Some shortcuts will require careful maneuvering of a F-Zero craft's trajectory while in the air.

Compared to F-Zero X, you really have to memorize the track and know what is ahead. This is partially due to the insane speed and that overly detailed courses. Eschewing that small problem, the course designs of F-Zero GX will definitely make you very happy.

The speed of the racing can be jarring at first, but there is a practice mode where you can race around any track that has been unlocked. There is a handy new feature that restores the life of your car when it is destroyed; this feature is available to use optionally in the practice and multiplayer modes. More impressive is that there is absolutely no slowdown during the four player multiplayer matches. The unfortunate is that there can be only 4 cars racing total, if anyone else wishes to play. This is understandable as even with three or four people, the background clutter is cut down to nothing (there still remains the background that you cannot physically interact with but looks good). Despite this, a group of four people can still have lots of fun of with F-Zero GX, racing around the intricately designed tracks.

In F-Zero X, you had a few different choices of color to choose from, regarding your craft before each race; F-Zero GX introduces a deep garage mode where you amass custom parts over time and construct your own custom ship. There is a decal editor where you can create images with an art editor and past them almost anywhere on your hovercraft. Custom parts are made of three different types that include the base, cockpit, and the booster.

Like every good racing game, F-Zero GX features a time attack where you can race any unlocked course and try to improve your time. You can save ghosts your best times and attempt to best them as well. If you're fast enough, you may just unlock the staff ghost for the course; these ghosts can be incredibly fast, but can be bested with experience.

F-Zero GX actually shares a unique connection with the F-Zero Arcade game. You can insert your memory card at the arcade and possibly earn exclusive custom parts, courses, and pilots to be transferred to your memory card (after you win 1st place). It is possible to unlock these extra features on the game, but it is extremely difficult. On a final note, be sure to save your game data on the right memory card as it cannot be moved or copied. Otherwise, F-Zero GX has enough features to keep you hooked for literally months on end.

CONTROLS

A- accelerates
B - brakes
Y - boosts
X - (while accelerating) side swipes
Z - (while accelerating) 360 spins
L and R - air brakes
Control Stick- steering
D-pad - change camera view point

GRAPHICS

Imagine huge sprawling landscapes, brimming with detail. Picture gorgeous nightfall backdrops with lightning bolts that flash on off and momentarily illuminate the amazingly detailed raindrenched runway. Imagine all of this with extremely detailed, and crisp textures all around, with real-time lighting effects, unbelievable particle effects coming from the 29 other screens at once, all running at a constant 60 frames per second. The game also supports progressive scan and 16x9 widescreen where delivers even more amazing eyecandy. Witness all of this, from just one track. There is also stylish FMV spread throughout the story mode that look extremely good without any artifacting or compression. Beautiful, breathtaking graphics are what you can expect from F-Zero GX.

AUDIO

The previous games of the series featured some of the most amazing rock music. The music from these games was featured on a limited cartridge-based system; I naturally thought that now that a CD-based medium is available, the developers would be able to pump out the best music yet for F-Zero. As it seems, this didn't quite happen, nor are these the same developers (that may be the real reason). Much of the music in F-Zero GX could be described as "techno". That fact in itself isn't the worst part, but much of the music is only "decent", and simply fits in with its particular track. There is also a distinct lack of the old music, which is a shame because what is remixed does sound excellent. The worst part is that the track music really won't be worth listening to outside of the actual game.

All is not lost; every pilot has their own theme song which can listened to in the pilot profiles section (and view their machine and such). Most of the music is surprisingly good with a few standouts here and there (listen to Dr. Stuart). The music for the pilots covers a huge range of styles, which is certainly not a bad thing. The story mode also features above-average music that mesh well with each scene.

The sound effects during a race are done extremely well; each car even has there own distinct engine and boost sound. Something really awesome is that you can hear your rivals boosting behind you; using this tool, you will know they are about to come screaming past your vehicle. The effect used when destroying another vehicle has just the right kind of sound byte attached. For some reason, unless you are using the first-person-view, you engine will seem too soft. There is no music/sound volume control either; I am not sure why the Amusement Vision left this option out.

The voice-acting can get downright atrocious at times, not to mention the character's voices themselves; you may start getting memories of the Sonic Adventure series. At the very least though, the voices work well enough to move along the story.

SHORT FINAL THOUGHTS

The latest game in the F-Zero series marks the arrival of the past and present king of futuristic racing. The collaboration between Sega and Nintendo was a wonderful success with the best F-Zero yet.

Graphics 9.5/10
Pros: Stunning and amazing graphics with amazingly fast speed.
Cons: Overload of detail causes too many crashes at the beginning.
Sound 8.6/10
Pros: Soundtrack is very good and matches the tracks well
Cons: F-Zero X's soundtrack is still way better.
Replay Value 10.0/10
Pros: Endless unlockables ensures your playing time will never cease.
Cons: N/A
Gameplay 9.5/10
Pros: Awesome, awesome racing action. Truly better than F-Zero X in nearly every way.
Cons: Multiplayer can still improve greatly and a track editor should have been included.
Overall Rating 9.5/10


Reviewer's Score: 9/10 | Originally Posted: 10/29/04


Would you recommend this Review? Yes No You must register to leave a comment.
Submit Recommendation

Got Your Own Opinion?

You can submit your own review for this game using our Review Submission Form.