System: Playstation 2
Developer: Blade Interactive
Released: January 2003
Capabilities: Memory Card & Dual Shock2 Vibration Feedback
Review Written: March 10, 2003
Hypersonic .Xtreme is a futuristic racer that follows in the path of its
originators such as F-Zero and Wipeout. There hasn’t been anything sticking out
in the genre for the past couple of years with Quantum Redshift on X-Box being
the latest disappointment, and it look like HSX will follow that trend by its
problematic game play and other quirks. Hypersonic .Xtreme cleverly hides its
weaknesses by the publishers at Majesco giving it a skim $10 budget title price.
Anybody can pick up and play HSX. There are no fancy maneuvers here, but all your basic functions for accelerate, turbo boosts, and brakes are here and readily available. There is also a “slide thrust” function which is the equivalent of power sliding, or hand brakes in most other game, except it doesn’t execute as well. Whenever I came across a sharp turn and hit the slide thrusters I usually rammed into the wall for the most part.
There were also other inconveniences such as portions of the track that were invisible which the developers thought would be great track design that turned out to be a nuisance as it shocked the hell out of me and me take the ill-fated wrong turn of doom. Your craft has a shield bar and it will gradually deplete as you clash into guardrails and walls ala F-Zero. However, once it fully depletes you explode as expected which would leave you to believe you would be “retired” from the race just like in F-Zero. That is not the case here; instead you get re-spawned dang near at the end of the pack of racers making it almost impossible to catch up so you can have a decent finish. This cumbersome effect makes it that I could’ve been better off retired as it was.
There are only two main ways for the solo gamer to race: Cup and Time Trial. Time Trial is self explanatory, while Cup is divided into Arcade and Salom circuits. The difference between the two is that the Arcade tracks are connected for three laps, while the Salom tracks is a track that has an ending and is only one lap long. The two circuits combine for an astonishing 30 tracks. To unlock a track for use in Time Trial you have to place in the top four of that race in its Cup series. A buddy can join in for multi player in cup or exhibition races for two players. I cannot see why the developers at Blade skimped out on multi-tap support. This could’ve been a great four player game.
The most promising feature in Hypersonic .Xtreme is the Track Editor. Hard to believe they added a feature like this in a budget title. The Track Editor handles surprisingly well. You can nearly recreate any of the tracks that are in this game with it. There are tutorials on how to use the advanced features, and other track editor items which need to be unlocked by completing cup races.
HSX plays like F-Zero, but it looks awfully similar to Wipeout. The track design is marvelous, and most of the tracks do have a good rhythm to them. Weather effects are noticeable, but they are not all that impressive. Rain and snow droplets will pop up on the game play screen like it does in other racing games, but it will then stop out of nowhere and then pop up again. Crafts also start smoking when taking a wealthy amount of damage, but the smoke and exhaust they leave behind clutters your own view of the action. This got me wondering how much effort the developers really put into these effects.
While tracks look great, the surrounding building and backgrounds are more on the mundane side of things. The “futuristic” buildings that blazed by me only consisted of a blasé window design. This adds to the horrible presentation of the graphics, and it is obvious that HSX is a few generations behind the competition. At least the frame rate stays fast for the most part, and the loading times are not all that bad either.
The music in Hypersonic .Xtreme consists of mostly techno beats and a few guitar riffs that fit its futuristic theme well. It may not be academy award winning caliber, but it still has some catchy tunes and is not anything you would mute your television to. The sound effects are much of your standard fare, with all the turbo boosts and crashes sounding like you would expect them too. Shockingly, there is not an announcer in the game, not even to do the countdown at the beginning of the race. Not that it is that big of a deal, but it has been quite a while since I have seen a racer without an announcer.
There are a few things to unlock. Only two of the 30 tracks are initially available so you have to place well in all the cup races to unlock them. Beating cup races also unlocks tutorials and parts for use in the track editor. Admittedly, I probably would not be able to get three friends of mine to play HSX, but it is still a shame that the developers didn’t bother to include multi-tap support. At least the two player support is there.
Game play: 4.4
Replay Value: 6.3
There is a small part of me that likes Hypersonic .Xtreme. Granted, there are plenty of shortcomings and drawbacks, but it has a perfect excuse to cover them up. While it proudly wears its $10 budget price, there are still a few redeeming qualities about HSX. The track editor can provide unlimited possibilities, and the track design is fairly good too. HSX is definitely not the next Wipeout, but what it packs in will give you the most bang for your buck, all ten of them.
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