There has been a glut of racing games lately, with a good number of them featuring some form of battle element. Gas Guzzlers Extreme falls most definitely into that last category. Imagine, dear reader, a race series where the aim of the game is to destroy the other racers. Will Gas Guzzlers have the fuel economy of a 5-litre V8, or a sleek Japanese hybrid?

The aim of Gas Guzzlers then is to climb the leaderboards of the three championships that you can enter. As with most games of this nature, you start off with a meagre amount of cash to choose and buy one of the initial two junk piles that you can afford. Buy carefully though, you’ll need to leave yourself enough readies to upgrade various bits and pieces on your rusty steed. Don’t worry at this stage, you will have the opportunity to buy a new car, but we’ll come to that shortly.

Upgrade the car to what you can afford then and launch yourself into the first challenge. After what seems to be an eternity of loading, you’re ready to race. If there’s one thing that’s missing from the game initially, it’s some direction. The triggers are used for acceleration and braking, you find that out soon enough, but I was a little confused by the lack of firepower to begin with. All was answered soon though. Each track has an amnesty zone at the start of the race where none of the firepower you’ve invested heavily in will activate. Think of it like the DRS in F1, it only activates after a certain point in the race.

So, the fun starts after you pass the Fire Zone sign. Be careful though, you’re not safe camping behind some cars, ploughing it full of lead. There are some weapon upgrades that offer reverse firing, so you’ll take some hits wherever you sit on the track. The tracks themselves have multiple routes to drive, so sometimes, even finding your opposing racers can be difficult. Each car can have a small indicator above it during the race, so if you keep an eye out while trying to avoid course obstacles and scenery, then you can usually spot them and use the Nitro on the car to catch up.

Gas Guzzlers

Nitro, ah yes. There is a small boost available on the car, by tapping the A button, and this seems to reset as you cross the start/finish line, so use it wisely. This can also be topped up along the way with on-track power-ups. These include more ammo, yes, you really can run out of lead, nitro, mines, smoke bombs, oil slick barrels and repairs. Pick your power-up carefully on the pass, it’s no good grabbing a mine if you’re about to become another footnote on the nearest scrapyard’s stock-list.

Being scrapped isn’t the end of the world, however. What is does mean, in the long term, is that you could be losing places in the championship. You can, in the garage, choose one of the repair options to fix your battered vehicle. As you progress, you’ll get the opportunity to buy new cars, which will need certain parts upgrading again. Thankfully this does not include the armament, which is transferrable between cars. It’s strikes me as a little bit of a disadvantage being able to afford a new car, but not being able to afford to pimp it up well enough to compete, even on the easiest difficulty setting. In the garage you can also spray your charger to your liking, unless you choose to be sponsored, in which case, you’re stuck with the sponsor’s paintjob.

The cars themselves handle fairly well, but there’s definitely a feeling that something has been sacrificed to try and squeeze some more frame-rate out of it. I’ve seen worse graphics, but only on older games. The garage visuals are good enough, never quite reaching the heights of other racing games, though. For the racing side of game, the graphics blur quite well as you speed past. I’m not sure if this is down to the poor quality or some clever coding. I have a hunch on the answer to that, but I can’t put my finger exactly on it.

Gas Guzzlers

The driving mechanics are executed well enough, the car points generally in the direction that you’re trying to go, but the physics seem just a touch off. The collision detection is fair to OK, with you having the ability to knock some of each car’s health armour away by ramming them. Be careful with this, as you might end up smashing yourself to bits too.

As well as the weapons, there are some other hazards to watch out for. The mines you can drive over are not easy to spot during the race, and the stun grenades simply paint everything in white as you try to remember the track direction you needed to go in. The less said about the smoke effect the better.

The game is accompanied by a soundtrack, and an alterable commentary track. I’m not sure why this is included, as half the time you can’t really hear what’s going on with it. The weapon noise and engine whine is enough in my opinion, and the addition of commentary seems just a little on the extravagant side when the visuals and gameplay could’ve done with a little more in the way of attention.

Gas Guzzlers

Gas Guzzlers Extreme has a good selection of race types to drive, offering Power, Classic and Knockout initially, with sponsor-run Deathmatch and Capture the Flag on the first championship. Later on in the game, they introduce Last Man Standing too. These offer some challenge, especially the Team Deathmatch, as you’re never quite sure if your team is winning or not, but ultimately, the frustration comes from the controls and frame rate issues. Oh, there are zombies too, in the included Full Metal Zombie pack.

The one big thing that seems to have been left out is Multiplayer. It was rumoured to be included, but seems to have been removed from the game description on the Xbox Store. This is probably the biggest missed opportunity for Gas Guzzlers Extreme. Whether it will be included in the future is another matter, and would in all honesty add an extra point or two on to my score. As it is, the game is initially fun and has a decent difficulty curve to start with, getting progressively more difficult to earn the cash you’ll need to buy better cars and more upgrades. The lack of multiplayer is the game’s Achilles heel though.

Thanks to Xbox and Iceberg Interactive for supporting TiX