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F-Zero GX Impressions

The latest game in the F-Zero series is looking sharp.


F-Zero GX is the newest installment in Nintendo's futuristic racing series, which started on the Super Nintendo. For the latest version of the game, Nintendo has teamed up with Sega development studio Amusement Vision, which has experience working on Sega's Daytona franchise. We got to take a demo of the game for a test run to see how the game is coming along.

The most striking thing about F-Zero GX is the game's graphics, which feature massive environments and a stunning sense of speed. The tracks we saw featured twisted designs that were punctuated by massive jumps, hairpin turns, and holes that sent us plunging through the air into oblivion. Ambient details, such as weather effects, and some impressive elements in the background, such as a massive R.O.B. the Robot, which absolutely dwarfs you and your opponents, definitely help the game's sense of scale. Your vehicle looks like an ant on some of the larger tracks in the game. You'll also see an impressive number of special effects used to convey a sense of speed when your vehicle engages its turbo or runs over a turbo boost on the track. The game also makes use of a dramatic particle effects system that painfully highlights any collision you have on the track, such as when you scrape a wall or smash into an opponent. We actually found that the game's realistic sense of speed made us more than a bit queasy when playing from the first-person view.

Control in the game is faithful to the simple pick-up-and-play mechanics of the original. You'll just have to worry about acceleration and braking, with the two triggers serving as air brakes that will help you corner better on some of the sharper turns you'll encounter in the game. Your craft's turbo will once again draw from your overall store of energy, forcing you to balance speed with self-preservation. The Z button will trigger a spin move with your car that is useful for damaging enemies, although given the insane speeds you'll be traveling at, you'll have to use discretion when trying to take out the competition.

We were able to try out the single- and multiplayer modes in the demo and found them to be fun and impressive showcases for the GameCube hardware. Whether we were playing the single- or multiplayer game, the frame rate never faltered in our demo and kept the action moving along quite smoothly. As usual, you'll pick a pilot and then select a vehicle, each with its own unique characteristics, when going into a race. While there were only a handful of selectable characters, there will obviously be a great many to choose from in the final game. The same should hold true for the vehicles in the game, as a plethora of unlockable vehicles and characters are one of the addictive qualities of the game. Although the demo of the game was limited, it certainly whet our appetite for the final game, which should ship this August. Look for more on F-Zero GX in the coming weeks.

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