Is it a racer or a vehicle combat game? Not easy to tell, but it's obvious that it's a bad game.

User Rating: 2 | XGRA: Extreme-G Racing Association PS2
(+) decent graphics

(-) disastrous camera problems can't keep up with the speed; not returning once you exceed damage kills the racing component; appalling track design; even if the numerous technical problems were fixed it would still be dull and repetitive

The racing genre has always been easily flexible and interchangeable. We have simulation racers, which consists of real-life licensed cars operating with real-life functionality, we have kart racers, which have a series of recognizable cartoon characters in karts and bikes racing with others assisted by an arsenal of items. Racing has always been best left to just the racers on the track, but when used appropriately racers can still be a compelling and fun experience if certain gimmicks are added, at least if they enhance the game and don't get in the way of the game-play. And it isn't exactly a hard goal to reach, because a certain game called Power Drome really went out of the way, creating morbid alien like monsters as well as humans driving space crafts through unpredictable environments at high speed, and while it wasn't all that well received by the public, was at least in my opinion, a very good racer.

And what we have stumbled upon here is Power Drome's dirty little cousin, who hit his head on the floor at birth and was left retarded, delusional, and manic the rest of his life. XGRA, Xtreme G Racing Association.

When you first put the game in your disc tray, your greeted with a very awkward and unfriendly interface with letters so small you need a telescope to see them on your television screen, as well as weird and inconsistent music that sounds like some guy is screaming the F-bomb, what you're likely to scream once you begin playing the game. You have your standard racing mode, which is Season 2080 where you're pitted against other opponents in futuristic racing, and an arcade mode in case you enjoy torturing yourself or your friend and you ran out of electronic therapy. You also have a time trial mode, and gallery where you can view some pictures. There are other racers and tracks you can unlock through playing the story mode, but your experience will be so frustrating that it's likely you won't even care.

As you begin your race, you choose a mechanical blade to race on, similar to Power Drome and F-Zero. To start, you hear this aggravating commentator talk about the track, rambling on with an over-enthusiastic perky attitude about how great the track is and why it should be unique and exciting. But instead, you really ought to brace yourself, because you're in for one bumpy, cluttered, and complicated ride. After you shut the stupid aggravating commentator off, your race starts. It's likely your car will be stationary your first time, because for some reason they mapped the acceleration button to R1. That's just initiative. Putting it to the L2 or X button would have been more practical, but that's not where the head-aches end. I'm just getting started. The races are pretty heavy on weapon combat, you have missiles, land mines, life-leaching shocks, and shields along with acceleration boosts and other items. And to succeed in the race you need to attempt to destroy the other opponent racers. The problem with this? Once a racer is destroyed, they automatically lose because they cannot return to the race. This kills the pace of the race. Because you have to be extra careful that you don't get destroyed on the track, in addition to answering to the opponents, as well as winning the race. It seems this game can't decide what it wants to be, a racer or a vehicle combat game, but fans of either genre will be disappointed by this estranged hybrid that more than likely adds to nothing other than a terrible game that shouldn't be played by anyone except therapy patients that need something else to frustrate them to get their mind off their recent break-up.

And the damage ratio isn't help by the completely horrendous track design. In practice, you do have a decent variety of tracks with plenty of character. But the way their constructed makes the already catastrophic race difficulty even more unbearable. A lot of roads are so closed in and narrow that it's almost impossible not to skid against the side while maintaining a decent speed. Which means, you guessed it, you'll either be going cautiously slow and 4000 miles behind the rest of the competition, or wrecking your ride and indefinitely losing the entire race. Now, Power Drome did the same thing, but it didn't occur nearly as much and your racer will return to the track after taking maximum damage, which makes this ugly duckling of a game look even more unapproachable in every single way.

The game does convey a decent sense of speed, which is something every racer needs a good serving of, but the camera can't seem to cooperate with the speed. Might as well throw more salt in the wound, and that is exactly what this game does. The already tough edged track turns are made even more intolerable since you can't even see what's ahead of you for a short time after making a difficult turn, and this performance issue makes this frustrating ride even more punishing. If the entire game was stripped down of its speed, than it would actually make it a better game because the racing component is out of focus anyway, and players would have more ability to concentrate on bullying the other racers other than trying to scurry to the finish line. But as always, that good idea was denied and this game suffers because of it.

The lone light spot in the game is the visuals. Racers are appropriately detailed, as well as their blades and the tracks they're racing in. When you're not crashing into anything the sense of speed can cause a short-lived moment of excitement, that is until you crash into the wall for the umpteenth time. The frame rate isn't quite as good, even though it's pretty sloppy at least it stays consistent through the game. A major slowdown would sink the experience to an even deeper low, and based on the other lazy technical decisions nobody would be surprised.

Xtreme G Racing Association. That name doesn't even make sense. And what else doesn't make sense? How can some evil, twisted being compose a racer where you don't recover after being damaged to the maximum, and couple that with inexcusable and ridiculous camera problems, and claustrophobic track design? There is absolutely no reason to play XGRA. It's riddled by both technical problems and design problems, and even if they were fixed this still wouldn't be entirely worth playing. The game has no idea if it's a racer or a vehicle combat game, and if you play it you'll have no idea if your a manic depressive loser or an aggravated ADHD hospital patient. But seriously, if you think about picking this one up, let me remind you that if you pick up something like F-Zero or Power Drome, you're getting pretty much the same experience that people would be mislead they'll be getting by this disaster game's cover, and both of those games devour XGRA at pretty much every aspect.