While the Xbox One has a decent library of racing games, one niche of the genre has been largely absent. Racing combat games used to be a regular staple of the genre with games like the Twisted Metal series. I have fond memories of playing Full Auto on Xbox 360 and still have some people on my friends list that I met while playing that game for hours online. The only game that really caters to this sub- genre is Carmageddon and after having to suffer all the way through that game to review it, I wouldn’t recommend it to anybody. Gas Guzzlers Extreme aims to plug this gap with some good old racing and blasting gameplay. So how does the game stack up?
Graphically the game is OK. Environments have nice variety to them and convey their themes well, though it never reaches the visual fidelity of most other Xbox One racers. None of the cars are licensed, but the developers have done a pretty good job of copying some well-known cars without falling foul of the copyright laws. They look pretty good before you destroy them with your arsenal of guns and rocket launchers. For 95% of the time, the game moves without any noticeable drops in framerate or visual pop-up (that is common in racers). That other 5% though can be extremely frustrating and happens frequently during the zombie mode. Yes, you read that right, a zombie mode in a racing game. Apparently, it is now an industry pre-requisite for every game and genre to include zombies (the ball’s in your court Nintendo for Zelda and Mario!). The zombie mode starts off fine but once you get a large number of enemies in play and there are explosions and bullets firing, the frame rate drops to single digits. This stuttering frame rate makes zombie mode pretty much unplayable after wave 3 or 4.
What the game does do right is the gameplay. The cars handle in an appropriately arcade-style but you always feel like you are in control of the car; well, unless one of your pesky rivals drops an oil slick in front of you. Even the weapons fit into the control scheme nicely, something that is particularly difficult to do. There is a reasonable amount of targeting assistance, but without it you wouldn’t be able to hit anyone while staying on the track. The difficulty range of the game is also spot on. I did think the game was a little easy to start with, but that was before I realised that the game has a default setting of easy. Crank the difficulty up and you will find a level that will challenge you whether you drive like a Soccer Mom or Lewis Hamilton.
The career mode for the game can be as long as you want it to be. You progress through divisions as you buy new cars but you can’t buy a car from a new division until you complete a championship. You don’t unlock the championship for each division until you have completed a set number of races; however, if you want to keep racing in that category, you can. The game will continue giving you random circuits with different types of races, and you can even go back a division by picking a car from that division and keep racing at that level. There are races with weapons, without weapons, knockout races, capture the flag and team deathmatch modes. While these variations don’t require massively different skills, they do serve to keep the game from going stale too quickly.
Gas Guzzlers Extreme is the best combat racer on Xbox One, but it’s the top of a very short list. The racing is pretty good with good handling and decent combat and for the normal career there aren’t really any issues. The zombie mode, though, is almost unplayable, due to technical limitations that cause the frame rate to drop through the floor. Tracks have a nice attention to detail and are laid out in a way that adds fun and a challenge. If you want a quick blast of arcade-style racing with weapons, then give Gas Guzzlers Extreme a shot.