When you hear the name (or read the box), you might think ESPN Extreme Games is a collection of extreme events like those on the show from which it takes its name. You'd be wrong. This is a racing game, pure and simple. The twist is that you can race through the various tracks using any one of four rad modes of transportation - mountain bike, street luge, roller blades or skateboard.
Hosted via video inserts by ESPN's pixieish (and pixelated) Susie Kolber, anything goes in Extreme Games, from jumping on your opponents to delivering a nasty barrage of kicks and punches. Gameplay is fast and occasionally funny (watch out for chickens in South America), and driving music, spectacular crashes and a variety of competitors all combine to heighten the thrill. A tad of strategy comes into play when picking your vehicle before each race, and a season option allows you to amass points and purchase ever more advanced racing equipment.
If you're easily bored, you might find that the relatively limited number of tracks (there are only six) to be problem, especially since the split-screen two-player mode that proved so popular on the PlayStation version was omitted from the PC-CD, taking much of the game's replayability along with it. The controls will prove a headache for everyone. Each move (there are eight in all: right kick, left kick, right punch, left punch, jump, skate, brake, duck, turn left and turn right) requires its own command, and that's an awful lot keep track of at high speeds, even with an eight-button controller (try using Sony's recommended keyboard/joypad combination, and you'll feel like Mavis Beacon by the end of the first race). In a racing title, replayability and precision control are the name of the game, and the lack of both keep Extreme Games from finishing in the winner's circle.