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Editor’s Note: This is an article in our ongoing “Great Video Game” series in which readers and staffers alike are asked to submit a few hundred words about a video game that they consider to be great.
By Joshua Madden
Ever broken the sound barrier? I have. Granted, it was technically done virtually on “XG3: Extreme G Racing,” but as anyone who has ever played the game can tell you, it felt real.
While readers have suggested a plethora of games as potentially the best racing game ever — including submissions for “NASCAR Thunder 2003” and “Walt Disney World Quest: Magical Racing Tour” — in my opinion, “XG3” wins by a longshot.
For a futuristic motorcycle racing game where you frequently break the sound barrier and actually kill your opponents, playing this game felt real. And it was fun. Like super, super fun. Significantly more fun than Fun Fun Fun Fest.
According to Google — yes, actually Google, not some search result — the speed of sound is 340.29 m/s or, in American, about 761 mph.
In “XG3,” you go faster than that all the time. If you know what you’re doing, you’ll break that barrier several times per race. The game actually built in sound effects so that when you break the sound barrier, the sound is actually suspended, mirroring what you would actually hear if you broke the sound barrier.
The level of realism in this game is arguably unparalleled. In addition to realistic sound barrier-breaking noises, when it’s raining on screen, the camera actually gets hit by raindrops in random patterns. Let me rephrase that so that you can understand how cool that is: The programmers took the time to simulate the physics of rain hitting a fictional camera so that your view, as the game player, would actually be affected by the weather.
This is all taking place while you’re dodging missiles and bullets. It’s not like this game is just a speed test and you’re trying desperately to unlock T.T. — that’s a “Diddy Kong Racing” reference for those of you with deprived childhoods. You are actually trying to kill your opponents while racing through cities. It is “The Hunger Games” on superfast motorcycles. If that sounds cool, it’s because it is.
As you win races, you get money, which you can use to buy faster engines — yes, breaking the sound barrier on a regular basis is not fast enough for higher difficulties — and new weapons, including missiles, machine guns and even railguns.
The railgun, by the way, is awesome. You charge it up as you’re racing and then fire a beam of pure violent energy down the course at your opponents. Hit your opponent with it two or three times and it blows that racer up. They explode and they’re out of the race. It’s every bit as cool as it sounds.
You can win the races the traditional way by simply crossing the finishing line first or you can win by eliminating all of your opponents. Picture “Mario Kart 64” for a minute except now when you hit Yoshi with a shell, he can actually die. That’s “XG3.”
While you’re doing all of this, you’re racing through the coolest maps ever designed for a video game. You go through cities, underwater tunnels, deserts and forests. The scenery is awesome.
As if all of this isn’t enough, the game actually has one of the coolest soundtracks in any game ever. The Ministry of Sound, a techno club and record label in London, provided the music for this game. As if everything you’re doing wasn’t intense enough, you have awesome techno music blaring in the background. This was all before Skrillex was cool, before Kanye West introduced us all to “Stronger.”
Finally, in what is a fairly unique feature to the racing genre, there’s actually a cooperative multiplayer mode. You and a friend can play as a duo in a racing team, knock out opponents together and split the winnings.
I know what you’re thinking right now. You’re thinking, “There’s no way that this game is actually this cool. I would have played it by now.”
The game actually is that cool. The problem is you. If you haven’t played this game, you have failed at being a gamer. Go out and buy a GameCube or a PS2 and get this game on Amazon. Used copies are going for next to nothing. You owe it to yourself to play this game.
Does reading this article make you think of a video game that you consider great? Please send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org with a suggestion for a “Great Video Game.” Please include a few hundred words on why you consider your game to be great and you just might find your opinion here.