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Review: FUEL (PC)

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When it comes to PC racing games, Codemasters has managed to steal the spotlight from EA over the past few years, with fantastic titles like GRID and DiRT. Today, we get to see if FUEL can measure up to Codemasters’ previous titles.

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With the huge variety of vehicles in FUEL, it’s hard to imagine that Codemasters could make each feel different enough to keep the game interesting, without having all the vehicles feel exactly the same and just looking different. With six different vehicle classes, from bikes and quads to huge SUVs and muscle cars, you have a wide variety when it comes to races. Though, keep in mind, all the races have certain classes that define the type of vehicle you can use for that race.

There are several camps throughout the massive world of FUEL. Each camp represents a section of the map and has a certain number of available races in that area. You accept races through whatever camp you’re currently at. Once you complete the races, you move onto the next camp. I will admit, this seems a bit lame, but it does bring a nice break to the action.

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With FUEL, there are no set tracks. There are directions and checkpoints laid out for you to follow, but the game truly is completely sandbox. During races, you can’t make up your own route too much, because you still have to adhere to the checkpoints that are laid across the chosen route, but cutting corners and sprinting through fields can give you a huge advantage or with one wrong move, could end the race for you. This aspect brings a nice strategy element to races. The beginning of each race sees you being chopper-dropped onto the starting grid…every…time. It gets very old, very fast.

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With the sandbox, you can also drive around in a “free run” mode, allowing you to drive to events you wish to participate in, or you can search the hills for unlockables or other goodies hidden away, but with the massive world with loads of bushes and trees to dodge, this can get extremely annoying. For example, some bushes you can drive right through, but others will stop you in your tracks. Can you tell a difference visually? No. Another annoyance is the fact that you can knock over telephone polls with most vehicles, but small, shrub-like trees will not budge.

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Although the environment can be very annoying at times, there are also good points in FUEL‘s world. For example, the much-hyped weather system affects the destructible environments exactly as you’d expect. All the weather effects aid in making the game’s feeling of speed so much more real. Although I can’t help but feel the weather effects aren’t quite what they where hyped up to be.

As far as controls go, FUEL feels and performs like your standard racing game and as such, you’d be crazy to want to use your keyboard to control the vehicles.

Scores

- Graphics: 8
The weather effects and lighting are great, however, the game does lack in some details.

- Storyline: N/A
There’s no story. The world seems to be in ruins and you don’t seem to care.

- Gameplay: 6
The sandbox idea flows really well with FUEL‘s racing. However, when it comes to the game’s physics and environment, prepare for some gray hairs as you try to figure out why your car just flew 30 feet in the air from hitting a small bush that seems to be the immovable object.

- Controls: 6
As with any racing game, the controls are simple and as such, it goes without saying that if you play it without a controller of some type, it will leave you with much to be desired.

- Lasting Appeal: 5
In all honesty, the massive world is impressive, but ultimately empty. Outside of the races, FUEL doesn’t have much to offer. I know this is silly to be saying because it’s a racing game, but it just feels so flat. And if that’s not enough, consoles got multiplayer. PC got shafted.

Overall: 6 Olives

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