Gas Guzzlers Extreme, for no sensible reason, reminds me of a racing game I thoroughly enjoyed and yet have never heard a single other human mention: Beetle Crazy Cup. It came out in 2000, from Infrogrames as was, by the entirely unknown Xpiral. It was a VW-licensed game that I gave it 85% in PC Gamer back then, and I don’t think a single person bought it. I bring this up, because I’m struggling to find too many interesting things to say about Gas Guzzlers Extreme.
That’s not to say it’s a disaster. It’s incredibly clumsy, but the issue here is that it’s just a touch bland. It’s, well, a driving game with shooting in it. It’s Mario Kart with proper cars, and utterly without the intuitive delivery. Have I enjoyed my brief go? A bit. I haven’t hated it. I’ve driven around a few tracks, done well, done badly, shot at other cars and been shot at. And, it all feels awfully familiar.
There’s a definite desire to go big, but unfortunately little actual delivery. So while it seems to think it’s delivering big explosions and violence, it’s all rather tempered and ordinary, the real pleasure of an anarchic driving game buried in a confusion of obscurity. Everything is just so incredibly vague, from whether you’ve clipped a floating bonus item to pick it up to what bonus you currently have to whether you’ve deployed it. The Arcade mode offers generous cornering and liberal use of handbrakes, and that’s my sort of racing, but all the other cars seem to be having a lot more fun than me. I can see the mines they’ve dropped – I’ve no idea if I’ve ever dropped mine.
There’s a garage, cars to be bought and augmented with won money, exactly as you’d expect. You begin with a Reliant Robin, then move onto a Beetle – you get the idea there. But you can attach weapons, boost engines, etc, and then take part in the heavily rubber-banded racing that’s a mad cluster of short-cuts and frustration as other drivers crash into you. That’s an issue solved by jumping online, of course, where such actions feel far more fair when done at you by another human. Although that’s a bit tricky here – at the time of writing there were a total of seven people playing, and the game wouldn’t let me join the one populated race. Which is actually a shame, as the deathmatch mode against the AI is quite fun. It has potential online.
However, I really wasn’t too impressed with a new game in late 2013 turning Win 7 down to Basic mode, nor refusing to launch until I’d set my desktop resolution to 1024×768.
But what has this to do with Beetle Crazy Cup, you ask. Good point.