View Full Version : F-Zero GX review

22nd September 2003, 08:23 PM
Just thought I'd share my thoughts on F-Zero GX, and how it compares to our favourite future racer... btw there were reports that the Japanese version of the game is non-freeloader compatible - I'm running a Canadian copy on a PAL Game Cube using freeloader, and I haven't noticed any errors.

First off, prepare yourself for how this game looks. Stylistically F-Zero is a shock to the system for anyone like me more used to Wipeout's sleek futurism; vast swathes of neon swirl around giant structures and expansive, undulating tracks, drawing confused eyes around the screen in a vain attempt to find some small area not filled with colour, and these visual excesses combined with character names like "Captain Falcon" form an overall impression of something more akin to Flash Gordon than Blade Runner - but that's not a criticism. Amusement Vision have made fantastic use of the Game Cube's graphical capabilities, clearly having become even more fluent with the Flipper chip since SMB and SMB2, and the flamboyant textures and often breathtaking graphics only emphasise the breakneck pace of the gameplay; and what gameplay it is.

This is captivating stuff, easily the best example of pure-skill gaming I've seen on this console generation. AV haven't tweaked the ship handling too much since F-Zero X, understandably considering the series' high standing, so you're basically still dealing with a craft that remains a set distance above the track unless it's in the air after launching from one of the strategically placed ramps, during which tilting the ship can slow or quicken your progress (although beginners would be well advised to refrain from aerobatics until a after a few trial runs in Practice Mode) and craft performance is still governed by four factors: weight, grip, boost (how efficiency your ship uses shield power to provide a short speed burst) and strength (resilience to attacks and crashes). Racetracks are wide and sweeping rather than narrow and twisting, so the emphasis is on finding the racing line and minimising distance travelled, attacks are limited to two variants of sideways assaults on opponents, and track design is innovative yet considered - novelties like tubular sections, loops and split levels that could have been irritating gimmicks instead accentuate the heart-in-mouth experience of the thing. Add to that a much improved perspective from F-Zero X and much more sensitive controls and this game becomes an impressive proposition. Pit lanes restore sheild energy quickly too, so reckless bossting wins out over judicious energy conservation almost every time.

Distractions from the main Grand Prix mode are Story Mode, a series of vignettes followed by maddeningly tough challenges, and the mouth-watering prospect of building custom made craft in your Garage. The temptation here of course is to spend credits (which you which you are given for top three Grand Prix finishes and completed story mode sections) immediately as they're won on building personalised speed-mobiles, but its wiser to wait. Credits become hard to come by fairly quickly and better parts become available as you progress. Once you do get in a and start building a ship though a flaw reveals itself: available parts are listed with weight and strength shown, but not their boost or grip ratings. These you only find out once your precious credits are spent and you view your creation in the garage, and unlike Fusion there's no selling upgrades and starting again, so if you unwittingly build a tank you're stuck with it. This is a great shame considering how much fun building your own craft should be, but no doubt gamefaqs.com will be full of useful but incredibly hard to navigate part listings with their relevant ratings soon enough.

Other than this the game's also full of little touches that make you glad to play: for instance each character gets his or her own theme tune, and when you're viewing a (saveable) replay you?ll see your chosen pilot wrestling with the craft controls as you hurtle round a corner. So is there anything wrong with it? Well, yes and no. See this game is very fast. So fast that reportedly some Japanese gamers complained that it?s speed was excessive. Being a Phantom class veteran I, somewhat arrogantly, didn't even consider that this would present a problem, but on playing the game I could see their point. With the vast draw distances and amounts of detail contained in the graphics, the sensation of speed is intense and not a little daunting. Not a problem you might think, simply switch to a slower class, and when I demoed the game to friends the other day this was their immediate request before trying the game. Only there is no slower class - you either go very fast or not at all. Also, the eye-watering style of the game probably isn't to everyone?s taste, and the ship handling and track design is very different to Wipeout - in fact you could almost say this is the anti-Wipeout, so different are the games' styles and techniques . Then again, you could also say its an unmissable treat of sublime design and fearsome speed.

23rd September 2003, 09:52 PM
I have 2 questions as I await the Australian release
1-How many custom craft can you keep in your garage?
2-Is it dinky Nintendo music, or something you'd gladly play on your car stereo?

23rd September 2003, 11:18 PM
You can keep 4 full craft, but you can also keep enough parts to build a lot more than 4. Basically you buy the parts then go into garage mode and put them together, at which point you can save 4 seperate ships, and you can swap their parts with any unused parts you still have.

The music is OK, it's definitely not standard issue Nintendo. It's a bit like Street Fighter Alpha if you've played that, lots of techno stylings with a few squealing guitars thrown in, so probably not something you'd listen to on a car stereo but it does the job. You can't switch it off or even turn it down though, which is annoying.

25th September 2003, 01:01 AM
Iv'e played a little of the game and it is pretty good and fast. Phantom is harder to not hit walls however by a long shot. Even with the incredibly simplistic controls, this game is fun because it is a challenge to beat. I wish they would make the ship feel floaty however. XGRA, as far as speed is concerned blows this games doors off on the highest speed, and the physics are pretty decent as well with an added airbrake/slide feature. One ridiculous omission though. NO RACE TIMES ARE EVEN SHOWN, NOT EVEN AT THE END OF THE RACE. All you can see is lap records as you are racing. What a way to weck a good game. Oh, and for anyone who has played XG3, this is faster than even 1500cc. This is the xbox version by the way. The ps2 version was much choppier at times and looked nowhere near as good.

25th September 2003, 10:12 AM
Sounds good - I'll definitely be getting a copy of XGRA. May have to wait a while before I can afford it though. Also on the basis of what you said Al about the PS2 version I think it'll be wise for me to wait for the Game Cube release.