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IGPX: Immortal Grand Prix - hands-on

Racing games? Old hat. Battling robots? A little better, but c'mon, it's been done. But racing, battling robots? Alright, now we're getting somewhere. Robots that race are the star of Namco Bandai's IGPX, an upcoming action game based on the recent anime show from Studio I.G. IGPX doesn't waste time on pleasantries, and soon has you hurtling down its rollercoaster-like tracks at obscene speeds while locked in combat with a trio of murderous mecha.

The conceit behind this craziness is that IGPX, which stands for Immortal Grand Prix, is the most popular sport in the world come the year 2049. Sorry, soccer. IGPX pits two teams of three high-speed mecha against each other in a high-stakes race around a specialized track. Placing first is the goal, and almost any means are not only allowed, but encouraged.

In other words, IGPX races revolve around duking it out with rivals just as much as finding the right lines. Much more so, in fact. This is not a sport for the genteel or reserved. Japanese teenager Takeshi Jin is neither, and so he heads up the upstart Team Satomi. Flanked by teammates Amy and Liz, Takeshi must overcome stiff odds to win against his more experienced opponents.

The preview version of IGPX features just one mode, GP, which simulates a series of increasingly difficult cups. A garage enables you to purchase new parts and outfit your team of mechs with more powerful abilities, but there's not too much you can buy before winning several races. The final game will offer additional modes like Grand Prix Battle and IGPX Festival, but there's no word on what these might entail. Two-player split-screen action will also be included.

IGPX 's gameplay system is best described as unique - it's like an old-school beat-em up that takes place at 350 miles per hour. Your mechs are highly mobile and can punch, kick, boost, and unleash a few special attacks, depending on your current part loadout. The races are divided into several phases. In the first you merely choose your team's overall strategy by adjusting a simple graph between combat and boost. The higher your combat setting, the faster your team's combo meter will increase, and the same goes for boost and the boost meter.

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