For over a decade, the F-Zero games have made up one of the most intense racing franchises around. Now, Nintendo has teamed up with Sega to bring fans F-Zero GX, the fourth and undoubtedly best incarnation of the series.
Rather than simply reincarnate the gameplay of old, F-Zero GX continues a story established in its predecessors (This takes place four years after the events of F-Zero 64), making it new in every retrospect save its racing style, which is as intense and addictive as always. F-Zero has always offered some of the most extreme courses ever, and GX is no exception. Every track offers its own unique challenge, whether its clearing a U-turn, hitting a series of turbo boosters, or flying a few hundred feet through the air onto one of two landing strips below. You can even attack and destroy other racers, which provides for some extra fun when passing to the front of the pack. If you've mastered one track, you're hardly prepared for the rest. You have a choice of 30 racers (Though you start with just the four featured on the cover), and as you complete races and challenges, you'll earn tickets with which to customize your racers, buy special items, and even purchase chapters to the game's Story Mode, a new feature that takes you inside the story that establishes GX as a sequel.
The sound department is a mixed bag. The effects are clear and befitting, while the music, which includes themes for all 30 racers, ranges from lame to catchy; More often the latter, but too often the former. Voice acting is well-done, but the dialogue often rivals Attack of the Clones, especially when it comes to the oddly-executed interviews at the end of a Grand Prix.
Graphics are often what make or break a game in today's world of gaming, and even for the demands put forth by F-Zero GX's gameplay, the graphics here are truly stunning. Detailed vehicles, crisp visual effects, beautiful tracks and an excellent frame rate provide the smooth, stylish gameplay that's crucial to extreme racing. The cut scenes in Story Mode are beautifully rendered, almost giving you the feel of a CGI-animated film. The only strike against the graphics in F-Zero GX would be the character models, which are a still smooth, bit rigid and on the blocky side. The focus of the game is on racing, though, so its hardly anything to be concerned about.
If there's any one racing game to buy for the Gamecube, it's F-Zero GX. Even when the story mode is complete and the races have all been won, you can still go back for more, over and over again. The options are so endless, you could be playing the game for months before you've covered everything, and you'll still have plenty more to do. This is easily one of the greatest racing experiences to date.