Fuel, developed by Asobo Studio and published by Codemasters, is said to be the “ultimate racing sandbox”. It features more than 5000 square miles of open terrain from snow capped mountains to barren desert and everything in between. Set in an alternate reality where the planet has been ravaged by the effects of global warming, the price of fuel has rocketed and a new breed of adrenaline junkie have taken to some of the remotest areas in their home made buggies, bikes and such, to race and win fuel supplies. A racing game with a message for us all I think.
The map is divided up into sections and you make camp in the first of these sections. It is from here that you will begin your races. The races themselves consist of the standard fare in offroad racing games. Choose yor vehicle ( within the limitations of the race) and then drive like the clappers. Come first and you get a reward. Fail to finish first and you get nothing. There is no second place in this game. Each section of the map has its own races for you to compete in. All pretty basic stuff.
Go into free ride mode and then you have the full 5000 square miles of terrain to explore. Whilst you hurtle through the countryside in your choice of vehicle it becomes apparent just how huge 5000 square miles really is. Drive around and find collectibles such as new paint jobs for your vehicles or “vista points” where you can enjoy a glorious view. You can even find barrels of fuel scattered around that can boost your supply. You even get to enjoy a full day/night cycle and some of the most dramatic weather that mother Earth can throw our way.
Take the game online and you will find yourself racing against up to 15 other players in a frantic dash for the finish line. The game is available on the PS3, Xbox 360 and PC.
That was the facts, now for the feeling. This game has some problems, but I do feel it has not been given a fair trial some places. The racing is frantic and often frustrating, but this is what you would expect from an offroad racing game. If you want smooth riding then stay on the road. The AI seems slightly daft, as they often get hung up on a piece of terrain and then just sit there. But these are all acceptable flaws.
It has been said that 5000 square miles of terrain is boring. Whilst some may find it boring I am reminded of games like Smugglers Run or a motocross game by Microsoft that I used to play. These games had wide open areas to explore that gave very little by way of reward, other than the thrill of finding new ways to test your chosen vehicle to its limits. I spent more than an hour just cruising around when I first started the game up. The sheer size of the area means that items of interest are well spread out, but when you find something interesting, its a good feeling. It maybe a new paint job for one of your vehicles, or something as simple as a barn to jump over. These are good things.
Whilst it may not be the best racing game out there, the sheer scale of Fuel will provide most with hours and hours of entertainment. For this reason I give Fuel a solid 7 out of 10.
|Release Date||5th June 2009|
|Age Rating||7 years and over|