XGRA: Extreme-G Racing Association Review

Speed. Sure a lot of us are interested in going really fast, but when it comes down to it would you really want to go over 700 mph on a motorcycle? (Heck would you even want to go over 300 mph? That one you can actually do now. Rumor has it you can get one for the holidays from Neiman Marcus if you have an extra $555,000.) Personally I would talk a big game until it came time to actually open the throttle up. Then I would come down with a cramp or something. Yet in the “not so distant future”, 2080, there will not only be people who will want to strap themselves on a rocket shaped like a motorcycle that’s capable of going fast enough to peel their faces off, there will be an association created for these lunatics. Thankfully you don’t have to wait that long to see what it will be like as Acclaim has brought us XGRA: Extreme G Racing Association. Is this a future you want to be part of? Well, to some extent yes and here’s why…

Hang on tight!

XGRA is Acclaim’s fourth “Extreme G” game but the first to carry the moniker with Association attached to it. Maybe this is a clue as to where they expect to take the series in the “not so distant future.” Whatever the reason for the same change the main idea of the game has stayed the same: It’s the future and it’s time to go really, really fast. Technology has been able to create cycles capable of reaching ridiculous speeds and tracks for them to race on that apparently forgot there are rules to physics. But like they say, rules are made to be broken. The basic story behind the game is that the Sports Interactive News Network, or SiNN, televises the worlds most popular sport and they’re about to start the 2080 season. The network has spent a bunch of money along with its partner Extreme Gravity Racing Association to bring the public the best season of this fast paced sport. Does any of that really matter? Of course not. All that is important is getting the chance to go really fast. Oh, and to blow up your rivals. After all what fun would it be to race in gravity defying tracks if you didn’t get to blow stuff up along the way. Actually this part of the game I have a problem with and I’ll get to that in a minute. But first let’s delve into some of the gaming options XGRA brings us.

XGRA throws the normally expected set of play modes at us. First, there is the Arcade mode, which is just what it sounds like. You can race on any of the unlocked tracks and you are able to change some of the racing parameters like number of laps, number of riders, and time of day. There are only three tracks open at first but as you progress in the Career mode many more tracks will become available. It can also be played in a split screen two player mode, but expect a little degrading of the frame rate and hopefully you have a big TV. Next is the Time Trail. Kind of like the Arcade mode expect that there are no other racers on the track. It’s just you against old Father Time. This is a nice mode to help you learn the layout of any opened track, which is very helpful in the Career mode. The better you know the tracks the more successful you will be. Speaking of the Career Mode, that’s the next play mode and deserves its own paragraph….

With the Career mode your goal is to you pick one of the nine riders and progress from raw rookie to skilled veteran and eventual winner on the 2080 XGRA season. A lot to ask of in only one season, but you’ll be up for it after the first few races. After you select your driver you have to qualify for the season through the Invitational Class by earning enough points to move to the next class. Points are earned at this level based on your finishing position. Later in the game you’ll be able to earn points in different ways that I will cover in a moment. As for the Classes, there are several different Classes that you advance through. Starting with the basic Invitational Class you move up to classes like the Sub Sonic, Super Sonic and Ultra Sonic. This is a game based on speed after all and the Classes must reflect that! The difference between classes is the availability of faster bikes and race types. There are several different race types. The lower classes only have a couple but as you go further in the classes more are introduced. One type is the Speed Limited, in which there are no turbo strips on the tracks so your racing lines play an important part. There is also the Extreme Weather Races where, yes, really bad weather can drastically change your racing style and the outcome of any race. Another race type is the Warmonger and here you goal is to cause as much destruction to your opponents as possible. There are even gun turrets along the tracks to help you along, well kind of because they are also shooting at you.