These ain’t no ordinary Gas Guzzlers…
After what felt like a massive two disc installation, something which I have not seen for a while in these days of digital downloads, I got down to the important business of aggressive driving and wanton destruction of other road users. But it seems I was not the only one with a minigun strapped to the side of my car…
The vehicular combat genre seems to go through waves. For some years, everyone and their dog were racing around arenas whilst blasting their opponents from the road. Then the genre disappeared for a while only to return with the re-emergence of the Twisted Metal game back in 2012, along with a slew of other titles all wanting to offer something new or different to gamers who wanted nothing more than to shoot stuff while they drive. Although the genre seems to be calming down once again, Gamepires and Iceberg Interactive are looking to keep it from the scrap yard with the release of Gas Guzzlers Extreme for PC.
At first glance, Gas Guzzlers Extreme may seem a little disappointing. Even if you read the impressively large listing of features on the back of the box, the visible screenshots give away a certain aged feeling to the visuals. Everything looks nice, from the opening menus to the various tracks and vehicles, but feels distinctly last generation, failing to match up with modern day videogames. But gamers should not judge a book by its cover, beneath this unassuming veneer players will find the beating heart of enjoyable car combat.
Beginning with the main campaign, players will find themselves thrown headlong into a violent race with a nicely kitted out car, before being unceremoniously kicked from the car and made to choose a slightly less impressive vehicle for their career in carnage. This is a beginning we have all seen before – give the player a taste of things to come before telling them they will have to earn their shiny, high-powered, armed-to-the-teeth, vehicle of mass destruction. That’s fine, challenge accepted.
From here, the game is a matter of competing in various different types of races in order to earn cash for repairs and upgrades, allowing the player to continue to compete. The different races come in a nice variety, with straight forward point to point races in which players cannot use weapons, and knock out races in which the racer in last place is eliminated after each lap, to all out warfare in the battle races which involve all of the armament that the player can gather.
Even the point to point races in Gas Guzzlers Extreme can take a deadly turn, with sideswiping and crashing actively encouraged, and a selection of on track power-ups available to make things more interesting. Repairs can be picked up to remove some damage, money can be found for later use, and of course extra ammo can be grabbed for reloading purposes. But items such as oil and mines are also available for picking up to make things that little bit worse for the fellow racers.
The different vehicles available in the game are not especially numerous, but they manage to cover most different types of car to give everyone a chance to race to their own style. The cars can be upgraded in a fairly linear way, with improvements to be made to the engine, brakes, tyres and shields to name a few. When it comes to the weapons that the player can strap to their car, there are 12 different types with most amusing names, such as the Gang Banger or the Piglet, so again the player has choices to make and can adjust their load out to their playstyle.
As the player makes their way through the huge number of different tracks and arenas found in the game, they will be faced with the chance of sponsorship, providing extra cash in exchange for some colourful livery, and different types of races that seem to have jumped straight from the multiplayer game. Deathmatch and Last Man Standing events become available and offer some team-based racing destruction. All in all, the campaign is fairly lengthy and has enough variety that it will never get boring.
Of course, a game like this comes alive when played with other human players in multiplayer, and Gas Guzzlers Extreme packs in a fair few different modes to keep it interesting. All of the race types from the single player game make their way over to multiplayer, and there is even a Capture the Flag mode added for good measure. There is a slight problem with the relative lack of players indulging in some multiplayer racing destruction, making it sometimes difficult to find a game. But this should change over time, and the player can always race against AI bots for practice.
It should be noted however, that the multiplayer and single player games are entirely separate. Players have simple choices to make before heading into a multiplayer match when it comes to vehicles and armament, and can then earn online ranks through their various on track activities.
Gas Guzzlers Extreme is a highly enjoyable vehicular combat game with more than the usual emphasis on actual racing. It may not look particularly pretty, and certainly doesn’t sound like anything to get excited about. But once you get behind the wheel and start inflicting damage on the cars around you, none of the other stuff will matter. There is a hell of a lot of carnage-based content in Gas Guzzlers Extreme, making it a solid recommendation for anyone who occasionally enjoys strapping machine guns to the side of their mum’s car.