Check out our video review:
People do a lot of stupid shit in life but one thing I cannot stand is seeing people talk or text on their phone while their driving. If I’m driving and I see this, I get physically upset and want to get of my car and beat the shit out of that person. But because we live in a “civilized” society, and more importantly, because I don’t want to go to jail, I will never do that so I just sit in my car and stew in my own anger, until I get home that is. Because when I get home I can fire up a game like Gas Guzzlers Extreme and vent my anger by blowing other cars off the road with a variety of weapons. If only I could do that in real life. Developed by Gamepires and published by Iceberg Interactive, Gas Guzzlers Extreme is a combat racing game released for PC in October, 2013 and Xbox One in November, 2016. A PlayStation 4 release is planned for this year. For this review I played the PC version with all currently available DLC. Now I normally don’t play racing games often but if you add guns, projectiles, and explosions into the mix it relieves some of the repetition of just driving around a track and adds an exciting element to the gameplay. Gas Guzzlers Extreme can also be considered a vehicular combat game because in addition to the racing is a variety of other gameplay modes that involve vehicles just destroying each other.
Gas Guzzlers Extreme includes three modes to play through – Campaign, Quick Race, and Multiplayer. I didn’t bother to try the multiplayer and I’m happy to say that the Campaign and Quick Race modes are great fun. Needless to say, there’s no story here but the campaign is addicting enough to keep you playing for hours. The first thing you’ll want to do after starting the game for the first time is create your profile. Here you can name your driver, choose a nickname, color, difficulty, choose a male or female announcer, and choose a voice for your driver. There’s a few voices to choose from, including Duke Nukem and even Arnold Schwarzenegger. As you play the game your driver will spout random one-liners which can be pretty funny but do get old after a while. Luckily, you can edit your profile and change these options, including the voices, at any time. You can also select Normal or Arcade Mode and without knowing the real differences between the modes, I chose Arcade. Shortly after playing for a bit I did some research on the modes and it looks like I was right. Normal mode contains more realistic driving mechanics so I just stuck with Arcade all the way through. There’s six difficulty modes to choose from – Beginner, Easy, Medium, Hard, Extreme, and Impossible. I primarily played on Medium throughout the entire campaign and didn’t have too much trouble. I ramped it up to higher difficulties later on and did notice more aggressive AI.
When you first start the campaign you’re a nobody and must work your way up the ranks to reach the number one spot. Once you become number one you can compete in a tournament and after winning the tournament you advance to the next class and work your way up the ranks again. There’s three cups to compete for – the Fenderbender Cup, Hazard Junkies Cup, and finally the Gas Guzzlers Cup. You start the campaign with a basic vehicle and as you win events and destroy opponents, you acquire money which can be spent on vehicle upgrades, weapons, and new cars. This can all be done from your garage. Here you can upgrade vehicles with new engines, brakes, tires, and nitro which will affect their performance. You can also upgrade a vehicle’s ammo capacity and armor. There are cosmetic options but you’re limited to colors, stickers, rims, and license plates so if you’re used to customizing a wide array of appearance options in other driving games, chances are you will be disappointed here. Luckily, you don’t have to pay for these. Mountable weapons can also be purchased and equipped. These include machineguns and shotguns, rocket launchers, and even a set of rail guns. These weapons are mounted to the top of your vehicle and some can be fired both forwards and backwards. All of the tracks include secondary weapons that can be picked up and used during the event including land mines, stun grenades which act like a flashbang, oil slicks, and smoke to blind opponents behind you. In addition to the arsenal are other pickups to aid you like wrenches to repair your vehicle, nitro, double damage, a shield, and invisibility. All vehicle upgrades, cosmetic options, new cars, and mountable weapons need to be unlocked and only if you manage to finish an event in first, second, or third, will you be rewarded with these unlocks, including new tracks. Only after something is unlocked will it be available for purchase. Depending on your class, you can only unlock up to a certain amount of vehicles and upgrades and only by reaching the final class will you be able to unlock everything. Each time you win a tournament you’re awarded with a free vehicle from the next tier. One of the more unique elements of the campaign is the sponsors. If you keep winning events, a sponsor will take notice and ask you to place their sticker on your vehicle. Doing so will reward you with bonus money from winning events but if you begin to lose frequently, the sponsor will drop you.
Once your vehicle is ready to go it’s time to choose an event. There’s multiple to choose from and every time you win a tournament you unlock a new event for the next class. One thing I love about the campaign is that you’re never forced to participate in a specific event so, if you want, you can keep playing the ones you do like and still move up the ranks. You don’t get to choose the tracks during the campaign but because of this, you at least get to experience them all as you progress. Every now and then your sponsor will ask you to participate in a special event and will reward you with a shit-ton of money if you or your team wins. Once you reach number one in the ranking list and are ready to participate in the tournament, you need to pay the entry fee. Once you pay the fee you must compete in all the tournament events, however you can do them in any order you wish. Working your way up the Fenderbender Cup ladder, you can choose from three events. Power Races are races where you have no mounted weapons and can only use the secondary weapons acquired on the track and they also yield the least amount of money for winning. Battle Races are pretty much identical but include the mounted weapons you’ve chosen for your vehicle. In the Knockout event, just like Battle Races, all weapons are available but any racer caught in last after a lap is immediately destroyed and out of the race. Destroying opponents with weapons will also knock them out. Knockout and Battle Races are arguably the most fun out of the three. The Hazard Junkies Cup adds the Last Man Standing event where every opponent must be destroyed for you to win. The Gas Guzzlers Cup adds the Deathmatch event to the list and this is a timed event where you need to destroy as many opponents as possible for a high score. The vehicle with the highest score at the end wins.
The campaign does start out slow but if you give it time, things will really get going. Because you start out using vehicles in the lowest class, you don’t have much to work with so you need to start earning money to progress. Working your way up the ranks can take time and I would imagine playing on higher difficulties would drag this out even more. As you progress to the higher tiers from winning tournaments, the rewards become larger but everything else becomes more expensive. If one of your goals is to purchase every vehicle and upgrade it fully then that will become a grind but you don’t have to do this. Events do include optional bonus objectives that reward you with extra money if you manage to complete them. These include things like finishing each lap in first, making sure a specific opponent doesn’t finish in the top three, destroy an opponent using a land mine, and even destroying an opponent by smashing into them. Because these objectives are optional they are never required but if you need extra money, these can be a great way to get some. You can also just sell cars you’re not using anymore.
The Quick Race mode is much more enjoyable after you complete the campaign. This mode lets you choose from any event seen in the campaign, including some additional ones along with your choice of track, vehicle, and weapon, depending on the event. Vehicles, weapons, and tracks become available in Quick Race only after unlocking them in the campaign. You don’t need to buy a vehicle in the campaign for it to be available in Quick Race, it just needs to be unlocked. What I don’t like is that you can’t customize vehicles in Quick Race so whatever cosmetic options you have selected for whatever vehicle is currently active in the campaign is what will be carried over into Quick Race no matter what vehicle you choose. You can choose how many AI opponents and the conditions for winning an event but, oddly enough, you cannot set the time limit or any form of team options. Capture the Flag is a team-based event where you need to obtain a flag and then bring it to the other unclaimed flag to score a point. If a vehicle from the opposing team acquires the other flag, you’ll need to destroy them to free it. Dominator is an event where you need to acquire the flag and kill opponents to acquire points. You can only obtain points from kills while holding the flag. Demolition Derby is all about smashing into opponents to destroy them without the use of any weapons. The Domination Derby event is almost the same as Demolition Derby except it adds the flag element so once again you can only acquire points from kills while holding the flag. You also have the option to play the Classic Race event. No weapons or pickups, just racing. It’s easily the most boring event in the entire game and I don’t know why anyone would want to play this, especially in a game with a focus on car combat. The final two extra events offered in Quick Race are Defend the Base and Survivor and both of these have you fending off waves of zombies. I was under the impression the whole zombie craze in video games was over or had at least died down in recent years but apparently not. These events were added in the “Full Metal Zombie” DLC, among other things, released in February, 2015. Defend the Base requires you and your allies to defend a base from zombies and Survivor requires you to kill all of the zombies and survive as long as you can. Both events have zombies coming in waves and each wave will bring tougher zombie types like animal and giant ogre zombies for example. These modes also include a limited amount of fuel for whatever reason. You need to visit fuel stations to both refuel and replenish health. I didn’t spend too much time in these modes because well… zombies can fuck right off but according to the DLC’s Steam page there’s twenty-two types of zombies. Needless to say, I’m not a fan of these events and I’m just tired of zombies in games. These two events aren’t that big of a deal to me because I don’t have to play them and, thankfully, zombies never show up in the campaign. With all of the other events in this game, I can easily ignore the zombie stuff.
Gas Guzzlers Extreme can actually look quite amazing but I had to turn some some graphic options down or off entirely because getting a stable frame rate is just impossible. I have a PC well above and beyond the recommended specs and I can’t keep a stable sixty frames which is ridiculous, really. And according to online research, apparently I’m not the only one which leads me to believe that this game is horribly optimized. After hours of playing and messing around with settings, I finally had to settle on a configuration that at least reduced the frame rate drops significantly but were still noticeable. It seems to dip whenever a race first starts and whenever there’s ton of shit happening on screen like tons of cars smashing into each other, a ton of explosions, gunfire and projectiles firing every which way, so most of the time it felt like I was playing a PlayStation 2 action game. The frame rate is easily my biggest problem with this game and the developers really need to get on that. Other than that and some obvious object pop-in, the performance is fine and the game looks amazing. Tires will leave fire trails, explosions look great, watching the smoke trails from rockets wrap around a corner is cool to see, and seeing cars flail and crash along the track as you whiz past them is just glorious. Gas Guzzlers excels when it comes to the little details. Damaged vehicles will be scratched up, dented, deformed, glass shattered, and if you take enough damage so that the trunk of your vehicle is exposed, you’ll notice some funny shit inside. Sometimes you’ll see a painting of the Mona Lisa, a random driver, or even a blow up doll which always makes laugh. Funnily enough, the blow up doll will sometimes be in the passenger seat of your vehicle during an event and in your garage.
The tracks themselves are really well designed with plenty of shortcuts to help you get ahead. The game will identify some tracks as being located in real-world places like Argentina, Arizona, and more. Most tracks are of the desert and forest variety and events that do not include racing like Deathmatch and Last Man Standing, for example, take place in open arena-style environments. During the campaign you may race on the same track multiple times or in variants of a track and as you progress, the tracks become more interesting and complex. Some include different weather effects like rain, snow, dust and fog, and they each include a great amount of detail like trains going by in the background, planes flying overhead, and even animals you can run over for bonus points. Destroying objects in the environment will also provide you with bonus points which ultimately results in more money. Destroying objects on the track will also provide you with a little bit of nitro, useful for getting ahead if you’re having a hard time catching up. You could always just destroy an opponent to fully replenish nitro as well but that may prove to be difficult, depending on the situation.
The AI in Gas Guzzlers is surprisingly decent. AI drivers will attack you and other opponents, go for health, and pose a decent challenge during an event. If you play on higher difficulties, they become noticeably more aggressive and the action can become even more intense. However, the AI does have some drawbacks. I’m quite certain there’s rubberbanding going on, and as much as I hate that, I’ve come to accept it. No matter how much of a significant lead I have in first place, the AI opponents will always remain on my ass at a specific distance. When playing on the Medium difficulty mode, I noticed I could gain a significant lead and crash but still manage to get back in the race and even win. Most of the time, if an AI opponent is in first, they manage to always keep a significant lead on whoever is in second and sometimes it becomes ridiculously hard to catch up. Sometimes I didn’t have enough nitro and until I could purchase better upgrades and even better vehicles in the class, catching up would feel impossible even with the bits of nitro gained from destroying shit. In the non-racing events like Last Man Standing, where the goal is to blow up every other vehicle, I did notice the AI shows obvious signs of stupidity and follow predictable patterns. The AI opponents will frequently just sit and face each other and unload their weapons until one of them takes a certain amount of damage before finally driving away to find a wrench to replenish health.
It’s obvious the developers of Gas Guzzlers have a sense of humor, even if it is juvenile. I am all for rude, offensive, and even immature humor and I still laugh at the word “penis” so I was chuckling throughout my entire time with this game. If you choose Duke as your driver’s voice he will spout funny lines, some are classic Duke one-liners and others reference classic movies. When I decided to switch to the Arnold voice, your driver will sound like Arnold Schwarzenegger on crack, spewing random silly shit. And yes, many of the lines will reference classic Arnold Schwarzenegger movies. But even if you don’t get the Duke and Arnold references because your head has been shoved up you’re ass for the past thirty years, you should still be able to understand the humorous AI opponent names which all seem to be puns. It’s hard not to know where names like Jed I. Knight or Alotta Fagina came from and other names like Jenny Talia, Izzy Cumming, Seymour Butz, and Jack Kass are immature for the sake of being immature and I love it.
Gas Guzzlers Extreme does contain quite a bit of music. The music during gameplay seems to be a mash of rock and metal, usually without lyrics and when in the garage, you’ll sometimes hear country songs. I am not a fan of country but the metal songs that are here aren’t too bad. They have some decent riffs, some songs are better than others, but sadly there’s no Slayer nor is there an option to include your own music which kind of sucks. The sound effects, on the other hand, are really well done. Vehicle engines roar as you speed down the track, gunfire sounds brutal and the reload sound effects just sound satisfying. You can hear bullets whizzing past your vehicle, and the sound of an exploding vehicle matches the gratifying display of a car-turned fireball flying through the air leaving a trail of black smoke that will rise high into the sky. If the frame rate wasn’t such a problem, this game would be a real master of presentation.
If you’re looking for a driving simulation or realistic racing game, Gas Guzzlers Extreme is not for you. However, if you’re looking for a fast-paced and action packed racer, or even a vehicular combat game, then I would definitely recommend this. It actually managed to hold my interest for an extended period of time, which I can’t say about many other racing games. Not only can you play this with a controller but you can also hook up a wheel for what might be the ultimate immersive experience. For a racing game, Gas Guzzlers includes quite of bit of content including various vehicles, tracks, and events to keep things interesting all while including the necessary components to create fun and intense gameplay. The addicting gameplay is only marred by its frame rate problems but even that wasn’t enough to stop me from enjoying it. If you’re a fan of racing, vehicular combat, or action games, I would say you should check this game out.