Hands-on: Extreme G3

We take part in some super-fast motorcycle racing with Acclaim's Extreme G3.

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Acclaim was in town with a new build of Extreme G3 for the PlayStation 2, and we spent some time tooling around with it. One new feature is the bike-customization option, which lets you tweak your bike. The multiplayer mode has been changed, and the four-player split-screen mode from the previous versions has been cut. There's now a two-player split-screen mode, which lets you play in team grand prix, head-to head, or co-operative modes. While some fans may mourn the loss of the four-player multiplayer mode, you should be pleased with what the game has to offer.

The 90-percent-complete rev of the game nearly held a constant 60 frames per second, which is the development team's target, and it offered a very nice sense of speed. The tracks were big and featured twisted loopy designs that were one part racetrack, one part roller coaster. There were some shortcuts present on some of the tracks we played; however, they were a mixed blessing. While it's possible to shave time off your lap and cut in front of other players, opportunistic players better have the skills to match their ambition or they could wind up trailing the pack after less-than-graceful jumps and wall scrapes. An essential component to successful play is the proper development of your bike. Smart shopping when purchasing weapons and upgrades for your bike can go a long way toward sustained success in the game.

The game's graphics are slick, offering fairly detailed environments and a host of little touches that add to the feel of the game. Bikes leave behind trails as they tear along the tracks, and if their speed is high enough, they break the sound barrier and make a sonic boom. Weather on the various tracks can be clear, rainy, and snowy. The various weapons offer a variety of effects such as full-screen warping and bizarre lighting. The bikes themselves reflect the enhancements added to them--new weapons and enhancements are mounted on the bikes after they've been installed.

The bikes handle pretty well--the R2 and L2 shoulder buttons control air brakes, which allow for fairly easy turning. The main challenge during races is avoiding enemy weapons and taking the enemies out with your own artillery. You must keep tabs on your shield, turbo, and ammo levels, although racing over specific patches of track can recharge them.

Extreme G3 is expected to ship in August.

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