Review by EJRICH

"Driving is for Chumps. Boating is For Monkies. And Captain Falcon is For All of Your Racing Needs"

The first time I got behind the wheel of a car the world died. It's not like I was bad at driving. Quite the opposite. It's just the other people on the road couldn't take my speeding habits which capped at about ten miles per hour. Over time I managed to get up to the normal limits, but not without a ton of prodding from my instructors. By the time I got up to sixty, I thought the whole world was buzzing by.

Now imagine going somewhere around 1,600.

The first thing that probably would pop into your head would be something like this: “That's fast.” The second thought would most likely be this: “Cha-ching!” Now we all know that there's no car on the earth that can do that, and there probably won't be for at least another couple hundred years. But don't forget the game we're dealing with. Set thousands of years in the future, F-Zero GX rests in a time where cars actually can go that fast. In fact, there's a whole sport after it.

Don't think it's your average Nascar franchise, though. Over time, people started to get a bit tired of the whole racing in circles thing. So they decided to get a bit creative. Unfortunately for most drivers, their creativity led to hovering racecar courses complete with horrendously long jumps over molten lava and bottomless pits. They even were nice enough to add in your average two-ton falling boulders to complete the theme. Now aren't they nice? The whole fact remains, however. Who could actually race through things like that? Why would anyone race through things like that?

For money, of course.

In the day and age that F-Zero GX is set in, people don't exactly have a ton of the green stuff. Worlds live in poverty, stricken by continuous war over the little resources that are left. Then we have the cruel government officials that tax the people to death. Racing for most is the only way out, and a lucrative one indeed. That's why they do it, and it's exactly why bounty hunters such as Captain Falcon race for the ultimate prize while nabbing the dangerous villains who roam the tracks. You see, worlds in poverty are bound to have a few criminals here and there, and those criminals are bound to have a few bosses with less than happy dispositions. The governments then offer large sums of money for their capture, which leads to bounty hunters going out to get them. Since they race on the tracks, the bounty hunters figure they can kill two birds with one stone. Nice deal, eh?

Fortunately for us, it is. The developers of F-Zero GX took special care to make the game every bit as fast, every bit as daring, and every bit as crazy as any previous franchise titles in order to live up to that crazy deal. And it's no lie, either. GX is probably one of the fastest, if not the fastest racing game around, with tight controls added in to make those excruciatingly slim turns that much more easy to navigate. The developers had a purpose with this, and they new that if they were going to pull off some of the level designs that they wanted to integrate they had to make sure the controls responded perfectly. They not only delivered flawlessly, but also decided to amp up the sheer difficulty to correspond with it. If you crash, it's your fault. And trust me, you will be crashing. A lot.

From absurd jumps to minute doorways, GX makes sure to give you that difficult, nail-biting experience that never gives up. From the moment you start a track to the moment you skim your way past that last finish line, you'll literally be sitting at the edge of your seat. How does GX manage to accomplish this, you might ask. Very simply, it delivers through the speed that the game's all about. Whereas it's nothing new to hear about horrendously long jumps or tiny doors that defy gravity, it's definitely something new to hear about doing it all at 1,600 miles per hour. It's GX's trademark, and an excellent one indeed.

For those not in the know, The F-Zero franchise also has another trademark. That trademark is it's Grand Prix mode, and the developers made sure to go all out in an attempt to give you your racing binge. In Grand Prix mode, you'll choose a racer and take him all the way, earning fame and glory all while completing some of the most dangerous tracks in history. While most of the earlier cups are easy (for instance, the first one should basically be kiddy land), the later cups tend to challenge even the most stalwart racers with cheap character difficulty and some unfair jumps that you always seem to miss. The title also allows you to do it with not one, not two, but thirty-something characters. That's a whole lot of characters. Fan-favorites such as Samurai Ghoro and Captain Falcon make appearances, with villains like Deathborne and Blood Falcon around to crash the party.

For those of you looking for something a bit more structured, the game developers also decided to throw in a sort of story mode. In Story mode, the player can take control of F-Zero's fabled bounty hunter, Captain Falcon, as he goes through the tracks in an attempt to take out the baddies that are preventing that happy-goodie feeling we all like to have. How he does it is one thing, but expect to being seeing a whole lot of racing, perilous escapes from exploding buildings, and my personal favorite, a race with Deathborne over a broiling track of lava as you go throughout story mode's 9+ levels. Sound fun?

You bet it is, and you can also bet to be doing it in style. Not only is GX one of the fastest games on the market, but it's also one of the most beautiful. Everything from character portraits to the actual race tracks are all brilliantly done, with frame and pixel rates literally off the scales. Story mode also has its own sense of beauty, sporting complete cinematic cut-scenes in an attempt to wow your pants off. To top it all off, every track also features a wonderful intro, giving you the opportunity to scout out the course before you actually begin to race on it. You'll need it, trust me.

Trailing behind everything else is the music, and although it doesn't make nearly as big of a splash as the graphics do, they still sound decent enough to get the job done. Tunes are pretty lively, have a futuristic tone, and feature some nice rock fusion solos in-between to keep things fresh. My one big irk with them, though, is their utter inconsistency. Some tracks sound great, others wound up sounding like they really didn't belong at all. If they were to match things up a bit better, then it would have been much, much better. They didn't, though, and the game wound up paying for it. A lot.

Until now, the sub-par racing games on the Gamecube have really been a big problem. The idea of mediocrity soared over the first couple of months, and the consumer base ultimately paid for it. GX practically nailed everything straight on the head, though, and now the bar has finally been set for many years to come. Few other games offer you the ability to speed by like this one, and when combined with the developer's insatiable habit of making each and every track a total shock fest, you really have no other option but to give GX a whirl. Pure racing beauty at its finest, now if only I could drive like that….

Reviewer's Rating:   4.5 - Outstanding

Originally Posted: 07/17/07, Updated 12/23/09

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

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