Gimme fuel, gimme fire, gimme that which I desire. I canít help it, every time I saw, heard or even spoke about FUEL from Codemasters and Asobo Studios, that song popped into my head. Damn you Metallica. The good news is that the song is better than the game, yes, that might be blasphemy for some of you Metallica haters out there, do I care, no.Story
FUELís world is a similar one to our own, itís huge, itís full of post-apocalyptic trappings and the most precious commodity is fuel, which you race for. Thusly you are burning fuel to earn fuel...a kind of paradox if you ask me. Anyways, there are no fancy cut-scenes or anything driving fuel, just race after race.Gameplay
FUEL is a racer and thatís all, thereís nothing deep or particularly appealing about it. Itís a generic racer which works well as a Point of Concept demo. Let me expand on that for a tiny bit. You have this pretty decent open world procedurally generated real-time INSANE size world map, full of zones where you can race in different styles of events or just go free-riding around and explore. The problem is that the world is so big, thereís nothing in it. 16 player online seems piddly when youíre looking at a map size that set a new WORLD RECORD in the Guinness Book of Records for biggest game space ever.
The technology is impressive, the game is not. The play is pretty generic with various lack-lustre race types peppering the massive space. You can find new paint jobs, liveries and uninspiring vista points as collectables and so on by scouring the whole map. To help you there are Doppler Trucks which when bumped into display the location of all collectibles in the zone youíre in.
Thereís a GPS too, which is totally broken. It tries to be helpful and guide you to the correct direction, it very often plots a Ďas the crowí flies kind of course, which means more often than not since itís not intelligent, itíll plot you a course right through a lake.
So you have your circuit races, your point to point races, your various challenges and so on. Itís all very typical of the most average of racers. The dynamic day/night feature is quite nice, providing a suitable backdrop to the overall experience. The challenges are fairly fun but get old pretty quickly and the vehicle choice is often locked for the career races forcing you to work with a vehicle you dislike.
There are a lot of vehicles in FUEL, some of them have great handling and there are no boundaries to the gameís races or the world. This means you can get creative and take short cuts as long as youíre careful. Since thereís a lot of litter around from the post-apocalyptic world, dead cars and so on, broken and battered houses, ruined caravans and burned out trees.
Once youíve done all the career races in a zone and gotten the requisite points to move on, you move to the next zone. In such a big world there are helipads to help you get around as well.
If you want, and youíre that mad, you can try and cross the world by driving to the next zone. Be prepared to spend at least 30 minutes from corner to corner in the first zone for instance if you want to see how big just one of the smaller areas is.
You can make your own custom races too, you canít change anything but the route so donít expect to be able to play with day or night, weather settings and so on. Just lay down points and if youíre being a sadistic sod, put a few going into a lake just to upset your friends and make it impossible to win.Graphics
FUEL is a mixed bag, it has an impressive draw-distance, and there are some graphical hitches and so on. At one point we actually fell through the gameís terrain and the car got stuck, weíve seen the camera intersect the hillside and there are numerous other glitches that happened whilst racing as well. The day and night transition, lighting effects, various other shadow and texture designs are good. Whatís not good is the stupid effect that the developers show when itís windy, bits of blowing dust and grass that comically fill our screen do not make the game look any better.
The detail on the various vehicles is fairly nice, again though, thereís a lack of heart that appears in the game graphically since customising your cars is about changing a couple of settings and making the colour shift.