Though bigger and more ambitious than any of its predecessors, XGRA is hindered by a few unfortunate technical and design issues.
Save for Nintendo's recently revived F-Zero series and Sony's effectively dormant Wipeout series, there have been few futuristic racing games that have really been good enough to leave an impression. Though it wallowed in semi-obscurity on the N64 for a few years, Acclaim's Extreme-G series found its stride with the third installment, which was the most fully realized in the series, and it helped Extreme-G define itself as more than just another Wipeout clone. Though the previous naming convention has been discarded, XGRA marks the fourth game in the Extreme-G series. It's bigger and more ambitious than any of its predecessors, but XGRA is hindered by a few unfortunate technical and design issues.
XGRA functions much like its predecessor and, by extension, virtually every other futuristic racing game conceived--race at phenomenal speeds around tracks that ridicule the fundamental laws of physics, all the while trying to foil your opponents, by hook or by crook. What really differentiates XGRA from Extreme-G 3 is the details.
Previously, there was a system in the career mode where you would earn cash for winning races, and that cash could be spent on performance-enhancing add-ons, entirely new engines, and a variety of weapons upgrades. Now, during the career mode, you're simply awarded a number of points for your placement in a race, and if you accumulate enough points by the end of the last race in that particular speed class, you advance to the next speed class, and your bike is upgraded automatically. Limiting the player's involvement in the nuts and bolts of the bike theoretically makes the game more accessible, but it also limits your level of immersion in this futuristic world.
The selection of weapons at your disposal has been expanded, but the weapons system itself has been stripped down. Shortly after the beginning of each race, you have constant access to your primary weapon, which will be machine guns, rockets, energy weapons, bombs, or electrical weapons, depending on which bike you choose. Your primary weapon is pretty weak at first but can be upgraded twice over the course of a race by destroying your opponents, and the effects of a third-level primary weapon can be truly devastating.
There are also a variety of secondary power-ups and weapons that can be activated by picking up special green orbs scattered across the track. Each secondary weapon is a one-shot deal, and each requires a specific number of orbs in order to be activated. There are a total of 10 different secondary power-ups, including the vampyre, which will suck energy out of any other bikes that are in range; a variety of temporary performance enhancements; and, at the top of the list, the deathstrike, which is an ion blast from an orbital weapons platform that completely incinerates its target. You won't have access to all of them immediately, and in order to unlock the high-level power-ups, you'll need to complete some of the race-specific contracts. With these contracts, you're given a secondary goal in each race, such as beating a specific opponent, blowing up a number of billboards along the track, or beating a preset lap time. Though there are a few power-ups whose usefulness is questionable, you'll likely find a situation where you need to use almost all of them at some point. The problem with the weapons system, and it's a significant one, is that the deathstrike attack is far too powerful and far too easy to attain, effectively making all the other secondary offensive power-ups obsolete.