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North America

Extreme-G 3

by Steven Rodriguez - March 7, 2002, 9:51 pm EST


This game is fast. So fast, it forgot to pick up some replay value in the pits.

Ah, yes. Acclaim’s Extreme G series has come a long way since its N64 days. The first two games, while entertaining and unique in their own ways, really weren’t as good as they could have been due to the N64’s somewhat limited hardware, but mostly because the game was somewhat ahead of its time. It just doesn’t feel like you’re going well over 700 miles an hour when a game’s framerate is chopping up. However, now that Acclaim has some real hardware to work with, the developer was finally able to deliver on what the series was really all about: pure speed.

You can’t play a racing game without good controls, and XG3 gets the job done just fine. The big, giant A button is your acceleration, and L and R are your left and right air brakes, respectively. Y is your turbo booster, and X fires your current weapon. You can scroll through your weapons (11 in all, eventually) using either D-Pad left and right for both ways, or just Z going one way, which is a bit awkward later on in the game, as selecting the proper weapon becomes annoying when you have a full arsenal. Rather useless is the B button, which is used for looking behind you (something that is not recommended, considering how fast you’re going). Control gets tighter and tighter as your bike gets faster and faster, which is a big help for turning precisely at top speeds. Believe me, you’ll be grateful for this when you’re screaming down a straightaway.

When you finally do hit that accelerator for the first time, you know you’re going 300 miles an hour, as you burn through high-banked turns, scream through track support loops, and fly past the finish line crowd. What makes it even more amazing is the psuedo-realism that the game serves up. Unlike the first two games, where it was set in virtual and/or fantasy locales, this third game makes it appear if it’s actually taking place in the future (the 23rd century, to be exact). The graphics in the game also vouch for this. All the tracks are beautifully designed, both on-track and off. The bikes actually look real, the track locations really look like they’re cities of the future, and the arsenal of weaponry available to you is convincing enough to be real as well.

After you’re done gawking at the scenery, you can start racing for real. The 9 initial tracks in XG3 are divided up into three leagues of three races each. You need to finish high enough in each of the races to move up to the next league, and once you beat all three leagues in an engine class, you’ll be promoted up into a new, faster engine class. However, you don’t need to wait until a new class to get a faster engine. With every successful race finish, you’ll earn some cash to spend in the XG Mall, where you can buy faster engines, some bike upgrades, and some new weapons to kill things with.

It’s this combat aspect of XG3 that really separates it from virtually all other racing games (except of course, for the Wipeout series, which you’ll see this game be most compared to). There are basically two things you need to worry about when you’re actively shooting and being shot at: ammo and shield meters. All of your weapons feed off of the same generic ammo bank, with different weapons using different amounts of ammunition energy. Getting hit drains your shield energy, which is annoying enough in itself, but because your boosting energy is powered from those same shields, it becomes a strategy game. Do you use all your shielding for boosting, or for surviving, of for a bit of both? It’s up to you to choose your aggressiveness, but at least you’ll be able to recharge your shield and ammo at pit stripes every lap.

This becomes a bit too common in the later stages of the game in the higher engine classes. The AI in the game gets tougher and tougher as you go along, and because of this, everyone’s weapons always seem to hit you, draining your shields, and therefore robbing you of boost power, which you’re really going to need to get you up to the front in a limited amount of time. The game gets really frustrating when you need to win races (and you’re going to have to win a lot of them), and you hear 30 mines tinkling down the track headed straight for you. Quite annoying.

Also a minus is the fact that the people you’re racing against only show up one or two at a time. With 12 racers in the same race, you’d think you’d be running into people all the time, right? Nope. After the initial start, the field strings out rather quickly. You’ll be lucky if you see more than two racing up ahead of you. Passing them isn’t really as exciting, because they’ll always do one of two things: Let you go, or pass you back, only to let you go the next time you pass them up.

While that stuff is probably the biggest gameplay gripe, the most appealing one about XG3 is the raw speed of the game. You’ll start off going only about 300 miles an hour, but as you keep buying new engines, you’ll start going faster and faster. And faster. And even faster than that. Then, when you think you can’t go any faster then you already are, you can get a new engine and go even faster than that. (Then, you can head downhill, pouring on the turbo all the way down, and...) The speed increases are done in a way where you know that you’re going faster, but a little bit at a time until you finally get that last engine, in which you’ll be going about three times as fast as where you originally started. The control is just as solid at the high speeds as it is at the slow speeds, which is a big bonus.

More importantly, the game is a dead-ringer 60 frames a second. There’s absolutely nothing you could do to even cause a hint of slowdown, which is really great. This just adds even more to the sense of speed. Also, a nice touch is the addition of a motion blur effect. The faster you go, the more blur action the screen offers up, until you go fast enough to break the sound barrier, as it will then really motion blur, giving you the sense of high velocity.

When you do go fast enough to do this, you won’t hear much of anything. In XG2, when you broke the sound barrier, you got a nice, full sonic boom. Not in XG3; the theory is that you don’t hear anything when going faster than sound, including the boom. This is sort of disappointing, because that big ol’ boom was really cool in the other game, although the effect of silence is still pretty nifty in this game.

As for the rest of the sounds, it’s a mixed bag. The soundtrack is very nice, done by the Ministry of Sound. Techno music abounds, but it’s often washed out by the sound effects. It's recommend that you turn down the SFX a bit so that you can enjoy the music. As for those effects, they’re really nothing special. Your engine goes vroom, things go boom. The only real notable thing worth mentioning here is that each weapon has its own distinct sound. But only one sound. More effects, please.

The game is also fun with a friend or three. You can tackle the game’s co-op mode, where you and a buddy do the one player league mode and compete on the same team, where you would both need to finish high enough in the league races to move on. This adds a new twist, where one team member can be the runner, and the other the gunner, or both can move up the field together like you would in the single player game. This mode is actually a lot of fun, but still can be frustrating as well. The game also supports 4 players simultaneous, and this too is a lot of fun, without the frustration of really nasty AI. Solid framerate with the small screens, too.

Overall, this is a really complete game. The gameplay is very well-done, and the sense of speed really distinguishes this game from others. However, there’s one HUGE problem with XG3: It’s short. Really short. You could probably beat it in the span of one five-day rental. This by itself could be counterbalanced by some replayability, but there is very little of it. Once you beat a league, it’s beat, and you’re not allowed to replay it. Ever. This basically means once you beat the entire game, you’re limited to single races in practice mode, and that’s it. The multiplayer modes help to extend the game’s life a bit, but other than that, it’s really a game you can play one time through and be done with it, which is a huge letdown, with a game that’s as good as this one is.

Regardless of its length though, it is an excellent game that you must play one way or another, but probably by rental. Only buy this game if you’re a speed freak, a hardcore XG fan, or after renting it first. Hopefully Acclaim will make the next XG game longer and give it some more replay value, something that this game really could have used more of.


Graphics Sound Control Gameplay Lastability Final
8 7 7.5 7.5 6 7

Really sexy. The bikes look really good. The tracks are marvelous, especially the two tracks set in the cities. Skyscrapers surrounding one track, then open plains in another, with vast canyons in yet another. And yes, the framerate won’t budge from 60fps. Ever.


Good soundtrack, but make sure you turn down the sound effects volume to hear it all. You won’t be missing all that much when you do, because the effects aren’t anything special, although it’s nice to be able to hear which weapon you’re going to be hit by next.


The acceleration and steering of your bike is tight as can be. It would have been nice if a few of the buttons were used for other functions. Also, weapon selection at high speeds is tedious, because you can either press Z 10 times to scroll through your weapons to go back one, or left off the control stick to thumb the weapons the other way. No steering at 700 miles an hour isn’t good.


Things go fast + things go boom = Gold. The speed is why you should at least try this game. Weaponry adds to the gameplay, making it that much more interesting. The AI seems unbalanced, as the computer opponents seem to try slowing you down with their weapons rather than racing you. You can still beat them at their own game by killing them before they get to you, though. Did I mention the game was fast?


Ugh. It’s like there are one-way signs pointed toward the end of this game, and the only way to turn around is to use a different character. The multiplayer, while good fun, isn’t enough to qualify this as a party game. The single player can be beaten within a 5-day rental period. This doesn’t mean the game is bad just because of this; it’s really a good game, there’s just not enough of it.


Aside from the lack of replay value and annoying AI, this is really a solid racing game that everyone should experience. The sense of speed really comes through with the combination of the great landscapes of the tracks and the perfect framerate. Of course, the sense of speed is so good, that you’ll be finished with the game before you know it. Only buy it if you rent it first, because you might find that you’ve already beaten if by the time you return it.


  • Amazing sense of speed
  • Did I mention the sense of speed?
  • Great track design, especially the city tracks
  • Tight control; good when going 700 miles an hour
  • Annoying AI that always nails you with weapons
  • No way to replay League races
  • You can beat the game and be finished with it far too quickly
Review Page 2: Conclusion

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Genre Racing
Developer Acclaim
Players1 - 4

Worldwide Releases

na: Extreme-G 3
Release Nov 27, 2001
jpn: Extreme-G 3
Release Mar 15, 2002
RatingAll Ages
eu: Extreme-G 3
Release May 03, 2002

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