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I.G.P.X. Immortal Grand Prix Racing
Score: 89%
ESRB: Everyone 10+
Publisher: NAMCO BANDAI Games America
Developer: Sting
Media: DVD/1
Players: 1 - 2
Genre: Fighting/ Racing (Arcade)/ Simulation

Graphics & Sound:
I.G.P.X. Immortal Grand Prix Racing is a game made after the I.G.P.X. Immortal Grand Prix Racing cartoon series. There are some short clips from the show in the game's intro and FMVs, and a lot of character shots and corresponding audio clips sprinkled throughout the game to help capitalize on the game's license and to help give the game the look and feel of the show.

The mechs in I.G.P.X. Immortal Grand Prix Racing look nice, with a definite anime feel to them, but all in-game graphics are 3D with the exception of the clips from the show. You can change the color of the mechs on your team, but only by choosing one color per mech; the color you choose is representative of a color scheme, rather than the only color that is used on the mech. Gamers who are looking to simply change the look of their mechs a bit may be fine with this, but tweakers will be annoyed.

Sound effects sound good and have an anime feel to them. One nice touch are the short audio clips of your coach praising or admonishing you at the end of each race. I get the feeling this character is the coach of the starring team in the I.G.P.X. Immortal Grand Prix Racing cartoon series.

The music pumps pretty decently with primarily techno music, with a touch of rock flair in places. This provides a nice aureal backdrop for the action at hand, although I won't be looking for it on CD to listen when I'm not playing the game.

The camera in-game is very interesting. It is a 3rd person view, but the camera is not always pointing the direction you're facing or forward (regardless of whether these are the same). This gives the game a more cinematic (or, at least, television show) feel; the camera angle is usually the best angle to show the action. The insane thing is -- the camera works for I.G.P.X. Immortal Grand Prix Racing. Since you're not concentrating on just racing around the track, the camera allows you to see what's going on around you and let's you concentrate on kickin' can.

I first have to admit that I was completely unaware of the existence of the show that I.G.P.X. is made after. Otherwise, this game seemed like the perfect fit for me, as my three favorite genres are Mech games, Racers and Fighting games. As it turns out, I.G.P.X. is a combination of all three. It appears at first glance that it would be a racing game with mechs, but there is strong focus on battle elements, which feel more like a fighter than a mech simulation.

The largest part of each race is the battle segment, where you want to hurt the other team as much as possible, but want to try to stay close to the front. During this part of the event, everything takes place while you're racing down the track. You can speed up and slow down a bit, but in general, there is no standing still; both teams are racing down the track together. This can be done while facing forward or backwards, and without paying any attention to steering. Essentially, you're on auto-pilot as you race around the track and you concentrate on defending yourself and punching, kicking and grappling the crap out of the other team. In fact, for most of the race, I find myself playing primarily via the radar screen, striking a balance between thrusting out ahead of the pack and falling back to dish out some mech-styled whoop-ass.

You control the part of Team Satori, on their journey from League 3 to League 2 and on to League 1 in the Grand Prix mode. If you want more free-form play, you can select from different mechs in Versus Mode -- either against the computer or against an opponent. Most games are team-based, where you lead your team of three and can switch control between different mechs as you feel the need. However, in some races, such as Festival or Battle Royale, you have only one mech on your team (your own) and you're playing against several other mechs in a free-for-all.

Even though most of the game has you racing on auto-pilot, that doesn't mean this game is easy. When you're not having to worry about racing, you're going to be busy fighting. There are various moves that can be done -- both offensively and defensively -- and there are team moves that allow you to set up an opponent for a teammate to inflict greater damage on (or vice versa). Remembering how to execute the moves will take some practice; knowing when to use them and perfecting your timing will take a bit more.

In the very beginning segment of each race, there's a graph that you can adjust that represents the ratio of "race" to "fight" tendencies for each of your team members, yourself included. This is the only control you have over your teammates and helps support your strategy for the race. If you want to concentrate more on racing, you might want to have your teammates concentrate more on fighting to keep the other team away from you. Using this dynamic to fit your playing style can make the game a little easier.

One tip I would definitely suggest to players of I.G.P.X. is to pay attention to your radar. As I mentioned above in GamePlay, it can provide extremely useful (and accurate) info about where your enemies and teammates are. With practice, you can actually initiate attacks on mechs behind you based on their position in your radar screen.

Game Mechanics:
It's a doctor -- it's a lawyer, it's a movie-star... no, it's I.G.P.X., the game that would lie to you for your love.

When it comes right down to it, I.G.P.X. has the most in common with a fighter game that has team aspects. There is a small piece of strategy planning at the very beginning of each race, a small amount of actual racing at the very end of each race, and a mech simulation/RPG/Racing game element of upgrading your team's mechs with your winnings, but for the most part, the game feels like a fighter. If you imagine a fight where two teams of three fought on the back of a flatbed truck hurtling down the highway, with all of the fighters in robot suits... you'd have something close to the feel of this game.

The timing can be a bit tricky when trying to pull off certain moves in I.G.P.X., and the game feels nothing like a mech game. However, the game is fun for the gameplay it actually delivers. If you are a fan of I.G.P.X. and want the game because of that, I would highly recommend it -- the game's not bad. If you're looking to add it to your racing collection or your mech collection, I would have to suggest renting I.G.P.X. Immortal Grand Prix Racing first; it might not be what you expect.

-Geck0, GameVortex Communications
AKA Robert Perkins

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