Published on December 1st, 2013 | by gareth0
Gas Guzzlers Extreme
By Thomas Murtagh
Having successfully scored a publishing deal through Iceberg Interactive, young game development firm Gamepires roars out of obscurity with their quirky and action packed combat race title Gas Guzzlers Extreme. And it isn’t hard to see what Iceberg saw in this game, as I would say it is probably the most fun I’ve had with this style of racer in a very long time.
The title come from humble roots, having started as an indie title called ‘Gas Guzzlers: Combat Carnage’ on the game distribution service Desura. With a solid racing basis, intense single and multi-player projectile combat, and an off-key sense of humor, it gained popularity among the community. When the opportunity to publish with Iceberg came about, Gamepires didn’t squander it. With the expanded resources available them, they set out to improve on their initial offering in every aspect, boasting improved high quality graphics, greater detail and customization options, solid physics, steering wheel support, team-based multi-player and a large array of vehicles, tracks and gameplay modes. The result is a vastly improved and polished title that feels worthy of their assertion that the game is not merely an upgrade, but a full successor to Combat Carnage.
If you’re no stranger to vehicular combat games, then you will find yourself quickly settling comfortably into the control and behavior of the game. As a veteran of the era in which games such as Vigilante 8, Twisted Metal, and even (comparatively silly) Mario Kart, this game comes as a welcome offer in a sub-genre of racing that feels somewhat neglected in recent years. Full Auto faded into obscurity a long time ago; Burnout certainly fed the adrenaline rush of the visceral racer a few years ago, but features no true vehicular combat; which means our most recent offerings have been only cartoony kart racers and last years reboot of the Twisted Metal franchise.
And it must be said that even with the combat racing grand-daddy as the only title recent enough to be a contender, it actually stacks up very well to it even if Twisted Metal weren’t restricted to the Playstation 3. That being said, don’t let GG’s position as the only recent ride for PC in recent memory fool you into thinking it merely deserves attention for being the only game in town.
Those familiar with the ‘shoot-n-race’ variety of games, such as Full Auto or old schooler Interstate ’76 will find familiarity in the game’s initial offering of battle and elimination races, while those seeking an arena battle ala Twisted Metal will find eager fare here as well. There are 6 game modes to be found in single player, with an additional 2 available in multi-player, even offering a solid straightforward race for those looking for a bit less lead in their day (Watch for mines though). And there is no shortage of landscape to tear up, as the game boasts 40 tracks and 8 arenas across 7 unique environments, claiming over 200 miles of road.
There are a total of 18 cars to choose from, and the variety is notable, as I can’t the last time I had the option to race in a selection of little European compacts outside of a simulation racer. From a silly little 3 wheeler up to Japanese sedans, american muscle cars, and all the way up to a beastly supercar, there’s a respectable variety to play with, and each is reasonably distinguishable from it’s peers in their behavior. As you move up the vehicular food-chain, you will have access to an increasingly large repertoire of customizations, upgrades, and armaments, including rims, armor plating, and 12 different weapons to help you stand out in the crowd. In addition, you’ll sometimes recieve sponsorship offers, offering increased winnings and a unique paint job… if you can keep winning.
Here the game’s sense of humor begins to stand out, as the sponsors are largely parodies of well known companies like Monster Energy and Budweiser, and every car name and part seems to offer a pun or pop culture reference (I’ll let you find the Breaking Bad one yourselves). You can also adopt one of four unique voices for your driver, which will provide amusing voice impressions such as Duke Nukem’ or the Governator, or disable it if it’s not your fancy.
That’s not to say the game is perfect. The gameplay is very solid, but there are a few places where odd choices are made. One I will point out to save some confusion is the decision to put the option to enable use of a gamepad was placed under the keyboard controls… despite there being an entirely separate menu for the gamepad options to begin with. It has also been said by myself and others that in places where there are unlockable features – such as the 3 additional race modes in the single player campaign – they should have the icons there with a lock on them, so the player is aware there is more to earn there. But these are rather minor flaws in an otherwise very well constructed game.
At the end of the day, this game was a very satisfying experience, though I feel like it is lacking that extra touch of character that would really set it apart. Aside from being the old arena battle game to offer team and clan battles (up to 4 teams), it doesn’t do anything truly new, but it does it very well. Since the game doesn’t have the offering of any real story or characters, I rather would like to see more option in terms of customization to offer the player to express themselves (the actual ‘player’ model only offers several colors of jumpsuit). A cosmetic feature, really, but one that can make a big difference in enticing players to compete online. Gas Guzzler Extreme’s shortcomings are few, and if you’ve been itching for a good chance to mix nitro and firepower, you would be unlikely to find disappointment in this title.
4 stars out of 5