Fuel Updated Hands-On

We take another spin through this climate-changed vision of the American West.

It's fair to say that the sandbox racing genre hasn't taken off as quickly as action games set in a similarly open environment. But Burnout Paradise proved it could be done quite well, so now we're beginning to see more open-world racers come join the fray. One of the more intriguing examples is Fuel, a sandbox racer being developed in France by Asobo Studio and set to be released by racing megapublisher Codemasters. In it you pilot a variety of vehicles through a massive map depicting a variety of Western United States natural landmarks in the nasty, climate-changed future. We took an extensive look at the game last month during a visit to the developer's studio, though recently an updated build was shown off here in San Francisco at a Codemasters press event.

You can get the full rundown on Fuel in our most recent hands-on preview. Essentially, the game takes place in a giant map that covers 5,000 square miles of terrain. It's a diverse environment that encompasses all manner of settings, from dense forests to barren beaches with the rusted skeletons of cargo ships washed ashore. It's a big grab bag of natural landmarks plucked from the Western US, including Oregon's Crater Lake, Washington's Mt. Rainier, Utah's Bonneville Salt Flats, and Arizona's Grand Canyon. The scope is hard to put into words, but with a 40-kilometer draw distance, it's definitely a sight to behold.

The future is bleak.

So while the gameworld is a huge mash-up of rolling outdoor terrain that you can explore however you like in a free roaming mode, the career races take on a more traditional approach. The bulk of the races seem to be point-to-point checkpoint events where you'll be navigating from one glowing red column to the next, while some of the others we saw are circuit events that have you running several laps around the same area. In the case of checkpoint events, these points are usually spread pretty far apart, so you've got a good deal of room to navigate how you'd like to get to the next one. This usually involves a combination of sticking to the road or trail while, in the back of your head, weighing the pros and cons of darting through shortcuts that always seem to be taunting you. We had a lot of fun barreling down steep cliffs with a checkpoint at the bottom when the in-game GPS advised taking a series of cautious switchback trails, or cutting through a dense forest when told to stick to the asphalt road veering around it.

One of the neat things about that GPS system--a series of red arrows floating overhead--is how it adapts depending on what sort of car you're driving. It doesn't just have an ideal line for each race; it has an ideal line for which type of vehicle you're driving and how you're driving it. For example, because motorcycles can scale hills much easier than a sedan, you'll be instructed to take the occasional uphill cut between tracks while on a bike that you wouldn't get in another vehicle. And with 70-plus vehicles spanning different classes, like motorcycles, dune buggies, quads, muscle cars, and monster trucks, you'll have lots of vehicles to choose from.

At this point, the big question you might be asking is why place the game in an open-world setting if all the races are fixed events. That's where user-created races come into play. You can create your own events by dropping checkpoints anywhere on the map, so if you want to do an uphill endurance race straight up Mt. Rainier or a lap around Crater Lake, that's well within your means. These can then be shared online with others, and you can take part in 16-player online matches. But, as mentioned before, you're also given the ability to explore around at will.

So far, we like what we've seen of Fuel. Its artistic design is especially impressive, though one big flaw we've noticed is that the frame rate really chugs during big events. Still, it's a unique take on the off-road racing genre, and we're excited to get the chance to explore the entire gameworld. It's due for release on the PC, PlayStation 3, and Xbox 360 this May.

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Discussion

46 comments
General_Lee45
General_Lee45

I preordered it the other from ebgames and will be getting the game with extra vehicle that you get a code for when you preorder the game and I have it on overnight delivery! YEAH!

feathers632
feathers632

This doesn't look anything like the usual codemasters race game standard. It looks like a very dumbed down arcade racer.

killerwsyan
killerwsyan

test drive unlimited + dirt + pure + motorstorm = FUEL

XCyberForceX
XCyberForceX

Don't have a racing game in my collection. I might just consider this one.

SicklySunStorm
SicklySunStorm

5000 square miles sounds huge, but that's only a 70.7miles x 70.7miles square which really narrows down the impressive sounding 5000 figure... well, I say only..... 70.7 miles is a damn long way in terms of any game before it, but still, the 5000 figure is misleading. No doubt it will be massive though..... can't wait to give it a try

karphan
karphan

Well.... I'm sold$$$

superfrog123
superfrog123

So it's Burnout off road? I'm hooked already

killerwsyan
killerwsyan

cant wait for it =) hope they release a demo xD

ubaid16
ubaid16

i hope it would be much better than grid.

marcoscnjr
marcoscnjr

Since everybody is addicted to Burnout, it should also be an addicting game.

the_red85
the_red85

cant really compare to GTA:SA unless you can get out of the car/s my total gaming time on GTA:SA was over 180hours, including, driving, walking, cycling, motorbike, flying.

nesmoth
nesmoth

can´t wait , i´ll buy it!!!!!

EricaWildebeest
EricaWildebeest

Sounds exactly like Smugglers' Run really. If this game is less frustrating than that was then I think I'd like it! Hang on, am I thinking of Smugglers' Run or the original ATV game on the PS2? I can't remember and can't be bothered looking it up. What I think I'm saying is that it sounds good, but not original!

c-allard
c-allard

This looks like a take on Motorstorm... no?

Evilhen88
Evilhen88

It's a really good idea it would be good if you could adapt vehicles so you could make them amphibious so you could have land/water race.

teeskoowared
teeskoowared

It's all up to personal preference. I spent over 120 hours in GTA San Andreas just driving in the cars..... This game will be perfect for me but not for others

JenniFRESH
JenniFRESH

I've never been too into racing games. It looks alright.

DRIV3R24
DRIV3R24

gonna be rated best racing game of the year guaranteed. the open world is twice the size of connetticut.! O_O

fatmike2127
fatmike2127

torque did you seriously just spell ridiculous with an e, god i hope you were kidding

Psycold
Psycold

couldn't agree with you more Torque1599, GTA has set the standard for sandbox games, if you can't get out of your car, then whats the point of playing in a huge, detailed environment? Racing is only fun for so long.

Torque1599
Torque1599

I honestly find the idea of this game being an open world racer rediculous. This should be an open world car combat game.

xbox4life76
xbox4life76

this game has been in the works for like 6 or 7 years as I was a beta tester for company that had the rights to this and all i have to say is i'm not looking to buy this game at all...buyer beware

Red_Matt
Red_Matt

I might get this game, not sure for what system. my PS3 or my x360. hard to pick when it come to good games. might be my PS3. I play it more.

teeskoowared
teeskoowared

This fulfills all of the requirements that I have for any game of any genre........I hope it is as good as it seems!

kickCHENEY
kickCHENEY

I used to dream about games like this. Here's to hoping that it delivers.

ChiefFreeman
ChiefFreeman

i love the open world setting, but will it be entirely on 'track', or will you be able to go off road and look at everything?

LatusItani
LatusItani

IMHO I thought this one looked very good, outdoors, dystopic future, off road all that good stuff. However, it looks to be just a dirtied up version of Paradise and that is not what the market needs at this point. We need to see more unique and original games and even though this one's premise is interesting it doesn't strike me as buy worthy. Racing is hard to be original with but this one had the capability.

Rob_101
Rob_101

Sooo many awesome racing games out and coming out, I think this one looks the best tho ;)

maaly81
maaly81

i may get it if games prices come down

alexLmx6
alexLmx6

this looks so awesome, flooded los angeles and tornadoes, seems kinda funny that after all this climate change in the game theyre still racing around in big gas guzzling trucks

mkreku
mkreku

The difficulty isn't making a 5000 sq. mile world, the difficulty is making a reason for the world to be that big. If it's empty and there's nothing to do in it, it's all wasted. Here's hoping they'll fill it with interesting stuff to both do and see!

skinny_man_69
skinny_man_69

I am so excited for this one...Although I hope they fix that tiny frame-rate problem during big events or the tornados and such won't be as cool

tevic
tevic

Bravo Asobo : )

tevic
tevic

This is gaming as I like !!!

DukeEdwardI
DukeEdwardI

sounds awesome! gonna have to keep an eye on this.

dutch777
dutch777

does look coool though!!

BradHummr
BradHummr

This already seems like a must-buy for me. :D Sounds sort of similar to Smuggler's Run, which I had a lot of fun with. I just hope they fix the framerate issues before shipping the game.

Pete5506
Pete5506

Game looks great, I am looking forward to it

halokila
halokila

can't wait game looks sweet

Ventorian
Ventorian

Can't wait for this game! =D