Fuel is the third racing game released on the PS3 from Codemasters. With games like Dirt and Grid really upping the bar on graphics and game play for a racer, can Fuel possibly live up to the hype?
The story takes place in an alternate present. The planet has been ravaged by environmental abuse, and Fuel is at a shortage. Through the peoples’ need for Fuel a new challenge arises; adrenaline junkies with home built vehicles will compete in races for fuel.
Fuel is the currency in this alternate reality, and is used to buy better cars which will be unlocked for purchase with each new area that’s unlocked. Your career will start in the first of 19 different base camps. From here you can select a career, which is the main focus of the game. This is where you will participate in races in order to gain fuel, as well as get awarded stars to unlock new areas.
Within each race, you can choose from one of three different difficulty settings. The easiest one rewards you with the least amount of fuel and one star. The hardest gives you three times the fuel and three stars. Unfortunately, the AI itself is all over the place. In some races you can win by a miles even, with multiple mistakes; in others, you can drive perfectly and still end up losing. It really is a shame, and does make some of the races fairly irritating.
Throughout each race, you will have multiple vehicles to choose from. Everything from motorcycles to monster trucks are available for a total of 76 vehicles. The races themselves are just as varied as the multiple vehicle types. Timed races, checkpoint races and circuit races are included, just to name a few. With over 70 races to participate in, there really is no shortage of entertainment.
Besides the career races, there is a ton of other things to experience in Fuel. Free Ride is Fuel’s biggest draw and flaw. This mode will have you driving over 5,000 square miles of rock, ice and sand, going wherever you want and doing whatever you want. The issue with having such a massive map is a lot of the areas are barren. Sure, there are more than 140 liveries, which can be acquired by running into parked vehicles, and nearly 100 Vista points, which are just nice views to take in from mountain tops to the edge of rivers. These are pretty neat, but the reward isn’t worth the effort, especially when you have to drive nearly 20 minutes between each area.
In addition to the liveries and Vista Points, there are also 190 challenges which will have you doing different tasks. These tasks include, but are not limited to, following a helicopter or running a checkpoint race. They do increase the overall game play, and each challenge will earn you a good bit of fuel.
The last collectible you will come across are fuel barrels. There are no indication for these barrels on your map, and are just placed all over. They can be found sitting on rooftops, hiding behind trees, and stacked in the middle of a field. Each barrel awards you with 100 units of fuel when run into.
The graphics for Fuel are extremely good. When you take into the fact the sheer scale of the map, it is really quite impressive. It does not hold up to the standard of Dirt or Grid, but in general the graphics are top notch.
The sound on the other hand can be quite lacking. The overall soundtrack is pretty much nonexistent, with the same mellow songs playing over and over. Also, the vehicle design is on the plain side. It’s not a huge knock against the game, but it seems like they could have tried a little harder to make them stand out.
Besides the single player portion, Fuel also includes a decent online feature. The online play will range from Free Roam to races. The number of online tracks is quite impressive, and given the fact players can create races, the possibilities are endless. There are some nagging issues, but in general the online is quite enjoyable.
Like all games, there are some negatives aspects. The open environment, although huge, can be both cumbersome and daunting, with a lot of areas feeling like you’ve driven through them before. There is also no damage in this game, which is a a big letdown considering how much Codemasters’ prior racing games have emphasized this feature. If you run into someone or a tree, you will either bounce off of it or simply reset. It’s not clear why they went this route, but it really takes away from the overall experience.
In general, Fuel is a hard game to give a rating. For one, the scale is extremely impressive from a technical standpoint, and there are plenty of things to do there. But the scale also hurts it since a lot of areas seem barren or repeated. Not to mention, some areas will take you forever to travel to, a problem that plagues many open world titles. Despite this, it is a very fun game and should be enjoyable to most gamers. But the problems are definitely worth noting. If you’re really into racing games, I would suggest renting this game before you buy it.
PlayStation LifeStyle’s Final Score
Map feels a bit empty, with some areas that seem repeated.
Plenty of stuff to do, thanks to various modes and side missions.