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The second phase is the meat of the race: the brawling! You can toggle between characters with R3. Tapping attack unleashes a simple three-hit combo, while a defense button protects from the same. The throw button will allow you to grab your opponent, after which you can toss them away or brutally grind them into whatever high-tech racing surface will replace asphalt in the future. However, your most powerful attacks are multi-character combos. Assuming a full combo meter, hitting Triangle at the end of your normal string will initiate one, after which you'll need to hit a rapid series of buttons to keep your teammates popping in with additional blows. This is by far the best way to knock a rival out for reals.
The third and final racing phase is pure speed; all racers unleash their afterburners to make one final dash for the finish. However, your fuel level is directly proportional to your health meter, so hopefully you didn't get too banged up while fighting. Points are awarded at the finish, with first getting 15 and second a measly 7. It only gets worse from there, so it seems that the team that captures the first slot will usually win by default. Of course, placing highly equals extra cash, so you can splurge on upgrades.
It's certainly interesting, but does it all work? The combat is pretty decent, with crunchy-feeling hits and good hit detection, but the racing is comparatively underdeveloped. You can only fall off the track if an opponent throws you, and there doesn't seem to be much use for finding lines or other traditional racing techniques. Right now IGPX seems more of a brawler in disguise than a true racer, which could take some getting used to for those expecting F-Zero with mechs. Fans of the show will probably know what's up, though. Expect our verdict in September, when the game's set to hit.
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