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F-Zero GX (GameCube) artwork

F-Zero GX (GameCube) review


"F-Zero GX is almost certainly one of the most beautiful GameCube games on the market. The most recent console entry in the futuristic racer series boasts some of the most varied and detailed environments on the system. The enormous sci-fi cityscapes reach up and engulf the player in a bustling and fully realized videogame world. Ships buzz about. Neon lights flash and whirl. Skyscrapers block out the sun. Itís a sight to behold. "



F-Zero GX is almost certainly one of the most beautiful GameCube games on the market. The most recent console entry in the futuristic racer series boasts some of the most varied and detailed environments on the system. The enormous sci-fi cityscapes reach up and engulf the player in a bustling and fully realized videogame world. Ships buzz about. Neon lights flash and whirl. Skyscrapers block out the sun. Itís a sight to behold.

But you have to look fast.

As the tracks of the F-Zero tournament stretch and wind about, you take the wheel of a hovercraft and pit yourself against twenty-nine others. Those spectacular environments are merely backdrops for F-Zero GXís true visual accomplishment: That it can fit thirty top-speed vehicles on the screen at once (even in 16:9) without so much as a stutter in the framerate Ė and with all that other stuff going on around them. How Amusement Vision was capable of firing players off at speeds well exceeding a thousand miles per hour without ever dropping below 60fps is something Iíll never be entirely sure of, but Iím thankful. It makes for one hell of a seamless experience, only fitting for what is unquestionably the fastest videogame ever created.

F-Zero GX is essentially everything F-Zero X was supposed to be, only now itís on a system that can handle the burden. Aside from being drop-dead gorgeous if there ever was such a thing, F-Zero GX does what could never have been done before in a variety of different ways. What the N64 version created, the GameCube entry perfected. The gameplay is still as tight and addictive as ever, but with the new boost in atmosphere and even higher speeds, it feels complete. Itís like Nintendo has had this vision in the back of its mind the whole time and was just now able to produce it.

The biggest chance Nintendo takes with this game is the new story mode. Captain Falcon may still be the lamest character model ever (just barely beating out Ghost Rider), but now weíre given reason to relate to the questionably dressed hovercraft jock. This mode presents the player with a number of racing-themed missions, all a unique change of pace from the usual tournaments and time trails that racing games generally include. Thereís a Speed-esque level in which Falcon must race through a twisty, narrow track without going below 700kph. In another, heís escaping from a burning building and has to squeeze through a series of closing doors. That kind of thing.

(It should be noted that the story itself is hopelessly shallow. But hey, at least they tried.)

Let me make this clear: F-Zero GX is deathly hard. Actually, the first level is deceitfully easy, but after that, I guarantee you F-Zero GX will smack you hard over the face with its sometimes excruciating difficulty. You will scream, cry, bite your fingers off, throw your controller to the groundÖ But youíll never turn your system off. Youíll just want to keep playing.

Control is tight, as youíd expect, which helps alleviate the feeling of cheapness that could have risen. Instead, F-Zero GX knocks you to the floor and calls you a wuss in hopes that youíll pick yourself up and fight back. Itís a good motivator, really. F-Zero GX makes you want to get better, because you know the game isnít pulling any cheap tricks on you. Damned if youíre going to get beaten by a game.

The whole thing is a lot of fun, mainly in the way that it sticks to what it does best without resorting to anything stupid like power-ups and whatnot. The racetracks may look big and elaborate, but theyíre tracks like any other, albeit with loops, corkscrews, pipes, etc. to make for something of a virtual reality roller coaster ride. F-Zero GX delivers the kinds of exhilarating thrills that no other futuristic racing game Ė in fact, no other racing game in general Ė offers.

I donít entirely understand AVís decision to leave out LAN play in favor of putting more emphasis on the single-player mode, especially considering that the game clearly has no trouble fitting a lot of action onto screen. F-Zero GX does have a lot of decent solo options, though, including the ability to construct your own custom craft with the parts youíve unlocked. In the end, though, this is a game about the experience. Some titles cling to their gimmicks like nothing else, and itís nice to see a racing game thatís as beautiful, polished, focused, and outright fun as this one.

Rating: 9/10

Suskie's avatar
Community review by Suskie (July 05, 2007)

Mike Suskie is a freelance writer who has contributed to GamesRadar and has a blog. He can usually be found on Twitter at @MikeSuskie.

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