Gas Guzzlers Extreme is an uninvited guest at the party of excellent current-gen racing games.
Is it playable? Sure. But it shouldn’t warrant your attention when just about any other game in the racing genre has more polish, depth and heart under their hoods.
Still there? Okay then.
Gas Guzzlers is a combat racing game that originally launched on Steam in 2013. It’s standard racing fare — compete for cash on various tracks and use the prize money to buy shiny new cars — but it lacks the polish of modern racing titles and feels more like a buddy garage-project than a standard console racer.
Immediately, this shows in the game’s unforgivably long loading times. We’re talking Skyrim-level loading times. Whether you’re loading a track or restarting a race, you’ll have to wait a solid minute for the level to boot up. Even when browsing cars in the garage, it takes several seconds for each model to appear on-screen. This is inexcusable for such a small game (14.1 GB!) being reformatted for current-gen consoles.
That being said, there is some fun to be had in Gas Guzzlers if you can overlook the grease. On higher difficulties, races can become intense, especially when weapons are involved. Winning races gives you money to purchase new cars or upgrade your weapons. Weapons each have a degree of nuance to them, which adds some appreciated variety to the insipid track designs (more on that in a bit). In addition to experimenting with these weapons, the game’s side objectives shake up each race as you attempt challenging feats, such as knocking out an enemy with a smash from behind or coming in first place on every lap.
These are welcome distractions from Gas Guzzlers’ eyesore race tracks. There are 8 unique environments to compete in and 40 track variations, but none of them are very pretty. They’re beleaguered by muddy textures and rampant pop-in — sometimes of enemy cars — and they just lack character. Each track is a generic geographical stereotype — the desert map, the snowy map, the forest map — and nothing really exists to set these environments apart from those in any other racing game.
What’s more, you can’t drift in Gas Guzzlers — at least not properly — which becomes very noticeable on some of the game’s windier maps. This is unforgivable in levels such as the parking garage where you have to come to a seemingly complete stop before you’re able to make any sharp turns. Why this feature is absent from a racing game, I have no idea.
Fortunately, just like the weapons and side objectives, there’s a variety of game types to choose from that break up the monotony of the traditional racing mode. Knockout is a game type that lets you race while trying to kill the competition, and similarly, Last Man Standing is an every-person-for-themselves Hunger Games brawl. Most of these game types are fun, with the exception of an utterly forgettable Capture the Flag variant, and trying each mode becomes the greatest incentive to stick with this utterly dreadful game.
The re-release also includes a zombie horde mode that came to the original game as DLC, but don’t expect much depth here. Each round introduces a new enemy type in order to ramp up the difficulty, but they are never very hard to defeat. Ultimately, the zombie mode feels just as unfinished as the rest of the game.