#573 F-Zero GX

Posted: 7th July 2011 by Mulholland in Games
Tags: , , ,

67th game played so far

Genre: Racing
Platform: Gamecube
Year of Release: 2003
Developer: Amusement Vision Ltd.
Publisher: Nintendo

So here we are. It’s been some time since we covered F-Zero X (although on 1001 games, the gap is still small). And so we return to the high-speed futuristic racing of the F-Zero world.

The gameplay stays the same, the game looks a bit better and a number of new modes and options have been added. We decided we’d check it out next.

Our Thoughts

Right, where do we start on this? The game has improved, that much is clear, but it very much still stuck to the existing formula.

There are a number of new gaming modes which have been added in order to facilitate the franchise’s successful transition to the Gamecube. As expected from most racing games released from sixth generation onwards F-Zero GX now comes with a story mode. It’s an interesting addition, if fairly tough to handle. They are basically quest missions where, rather than racing against 30 other racers, you have missions and such to deal with – gather capsules, win a one-on-one race against someone on a boulder-filled track, and that’s just the first few. In a way they feel more like tacked on mini games rather than something which fleshes out the main game but it’s a fun diversion nonetheless.

The thing that the Story Mode demonstrates most, however, is how the developers have well and truly ramped up the difficulty level from the last outing. Most games have a curve; this is more like a climbing wall.  While the lower difficulty levels are doable, the games still feel like a number of drivers get perfect AI all the time, which shows in the story mode especially. It could be that we haven’t discovered the tricks yet, but they make the game harder. It showed how much experience mattered here – Peter being better at this, while this was the first time playing for me, showed there was a difference there. This is the only niggle that we had with this game. Otherwise it is amazing. It’s the only game that I ever rented multiple times from my local Blockbuster. I was unable to afford the forty quid then (or now to be perfectly honest). 

The main things that we loved about F-Zero X were the soundtrack, graphics and how successful the game was in making you feel as if you were driving at 1000 km/hr… F-Zero GX has not only improved on this but also makes the old game feel crude and sluggish. Not only this but also they added a Garage Mode which, at the time, was the glistening cherry on top. The sad fact is that about 30% of the amazingness of this function has been lost by the passage of technology.

Back on the games original release there was also F-Zero AX – an arcade version which saw you play the game in a pod reminiscent of the cars within the title. What you could with F-Zero GX‘s Garage Mode is bring your customised car with you on a memory card and then play with it in the arcade. I mean is it just me or is that just brilliant. It makes for a cool additional feature that would’ve added some extra time to playing the game – not to mention make you want to play the arcade version more often.

The last big thing worth mentioning a bit further is the graphics. Last time we mentioned these being very sparse in order to allow the game to keep up its frame-rate. This time, however, the environments look stunning. You race around through large cities, deserts and at one point a Möbius strip in a forest. The sandworms you pass in the desert level just add to the strangeness of the game. I think it’s because for the first time in F-Zero history the console was not stretched to breaking point by the needs of the game.

Final Thoughts

Technology has caught up with this series, and you can tell. All 30 racers are there in all relevant modes, the scenery is gorgeous and far more interactive, and the opportunities for customization are legion. If anything, you get the feeling this is what they wanted the F-Zero series to be like from the start. It’s a shame we haven’t seen a successor yet, although it makes you wonder what they could do to take the series further, other than adding more tracks.

It’s hard, it’s beautiful and it’s fast. And that last bit still matters most – you want that experience of really racing around the track. If that’s the main thing you want from your racing game, then F-Zero GX is the game for you.