Fuel Updated Hands-On

Driving fast and furiously in the face of global warming.

There's something to be said for making a large-scale off-road racing game topical by invoking the potentially disastrous effects of global warming on an environment and the chaotic weather that ensues. Although this might initially seem like a narrative crutch to explain why there isn't much civilian traffic in Fuel's massive expanse of open-world land (5,000 square miles loosely based on the Pacific Northwest), drastic shifts in weather patterns play an important role in some races. In fact, one of the earliest races available on the map essentially pits your muscle car against a series of tornados that not only wreak havoc on your vehicle, but on surrounding objects in the environment as well, including massive power lines that come crashing down on the track. In another race, a massive dust storm sweeps through the landscape, limiting your field of view, which in turn makes shortcuts off of the beaten path a riskier proposition.

Taking a shortcut through the forest.

Of course, not all of Fuel's dozens of circuit- and checkpoint-style races are victims of foul weather, but most of them feature equally hazardous terrain. In an area called The Ashtray, huge plumes of smoke rise off in the distance as you navigate your way through rocky terrain surrounded by a fire-ravaged forest; taking a shortcut requires slick driving through countless fallen trees and charred stumps. It's also worth pointing out that in a track like this, in which there are plenty of obstacles, it pays to keep an eye on vehicle damage. A few bumps and scrapes here and there won't do significant damage, but a couple of good smacks into a tree or an opponent usually results in a brief time penalty that resets your vehicle to a pristine condition. The same event occurs if you happen to plunge into a deep river or go careening off of one of the game's many steep cliffs.

There's no shortage of things that can go wrong during the course of a race in Fuel, so getting the feel for a vehicle's capabilities is the key to success. There are about 74 off-road transports, ranging from muscle cars and dirt bikes to big rigs and four-wheelers. There's even a vehicle called the Trident, a hydrofoil-like apparatus, which hopefully indicates that you can cross larger bodies of water in the game. But regardless of class, each vehicle has separate performance ratings in speed, acceleration, grip, brake, reliability, and an overall performance rating on asphalt versus off-road courses. As you might suspect, dirt bikes tend to be a little more nimble and offer quick acceleration, letting you zip through tight corridors. Conversely, a muscle car is generally a bit sturdier and more reliable on the open road.

You can't actually decide which type of vehicle you can use in one of the preexisting races, so you can't select an ATV in a race that allows only dirt bikes. The only time that you can select a specific vehicle is in the Free Ride portion of the game that lets you drive around at your leisure, and if you're online, other players can join and explore with you. Unfortunately, we haven't had a chance to test out much of the online multiplayer aspects of Fuel, so it remains to be seen just how multiplayer actually functions in terms of challenging other drivers to races or how the game manages to keep this mode populated.

Weather makes a big impact in some races.

Additionally, Free Ride offers an opportunity to collect liveries (in the form of new customization options) along with fuel, which represents the in-game currency. You "earn" fuel by simply plowing into marked barrels scattered throughout each section of the environment; if you save enough, then you can purchase better versions of preexisting vehicles to use in races. But perhaps the most important aspect of Free Ride is that it gives you an opportunity to create your own race. Interestingly, you can create a race in just about any area on the map (unlike the main career, which forces you to unlock sections as you go), as long as you keep it less than 150km. It's pretty fun to just randomly throw down points on the map, test out your track, and see how crazy it gets. Indeed, the first few tracks in our inventory involve some steep cliffs that are difficult to climb, so they probably wouldn't make for the best racing experience. Fortunately, you can zoom in and out on the static overhead track-editing screen, which gives a better idea of what kind of terrain is involved in your race and whether or not there are any pesky mountains involved.

At any rate, the actual racing in Fuel seems pretty straightforward at this point, relying mostly on basic driving skill as opposed to the over-the-top mechanics found in most arcade-style racing games, and there are still a few technical hiccups here and there, particularly when the weather is at its worst. It'll also be interesting to see how the online multiplayer features will help liven up Free Ride exploration, but even without it, you can't help but take a break from all of the hectic driving and stare deep into a massive world--even if a massive tornado off in the distance is obliterating it.

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52 comments
Humorguy_basic
Humorguy_basic

Another Far Cry 2. Promised a huge open world and then forgot to put anything in it! Very disappointed in an overly hyped game - again!

mrmman
mrmman

I have uploaded a video of the finished game ,take a look in my profile or game profile. My opinion of the game so far, is that it s a brilliant game. A must buy

MoNoXGT2
MoNoXGT2

Reserved it gonna love it

mr_Zauber
mr_Zauber

> giedrius1001 well, as u said, square kilometres. It would take 72 hours to cross a straight line that was 14400 km.. if it is like square it would be 120 km x 120 km and with a speed of 200 km/h it would take something like 40 minutes, but of course it doesn't have to be completely square :D

giedrius1001
giedrius1001

razorblad110 this world is 14400 square km. this mean what if your speed will be all time 200km/h it take 72,2 h to go from corner to corner, so dont try this to do within 3h its imposible ;DDD

razorblad110
razorblad110

i heard it takes 3 hours to go from corner to corner, f***ing WOW!!!!

General_Lee45
General_Lee45

I preordered it! I think I am going to love this game! It looks and sounds awesome!

thereaper222
thereaper222

wow looks like a real good game and bloody hell it sounds like a big world

M0wen10
M0wen10

That is one hell of a massive area!!

Aletunda
Aletunda

this looks like the best of all those offroad racing (and a little onroad, such as dirt, pure, atv etc) but in one awsome free roam game of 14000 square KM. sounds like a blast

belmont67
belmont67

Online free mode sounds like fun with friends, I hope they don't put a limit on how far you can stray from your friends though.

Upat3am
Upat3am

Wow I can actually Say this is the first ps3 game I have ever bought at the regular price.

dman123_1
dman123_1

hmm finally something Ubisoft would had done with speed devils back in the day if they had made a sequal.. I believe this can work and highly doubt the frame rate will be a huge issue.

Enkeixpress
Enkeixpress

I may just be getting this, I'm not sure yet though It's on my radar though =)

king_bobo
king_bobo

I gotta say that it's the 'Custom Races' and online components of this game (as well as the originality of the weather effects) that makes me interested...

heds777
heds777

This game could be quite good.

Mr_Fujiv1
Mr_Fujiv1

i hope the weather does have its disadvantages like it slows down your buggy or car in the mud all that stuff im gonna get this

mx-wild
mx-wild

Yeah i'm so looking forward to this game, I have already orderd it.

samgamespotter
samgamespotter

Looks great, but will it work great? With so much happening on ur surroundings I think frame rates will be severly affected. Hope codemasters will outcome such issues and provide awsome experince on the consoles. But except all of this, this game is truly revolutionary and some what of a challenge for other developers!

ger14
ger14

im gonna make my own race in the forest with atvs kinda like a gncc!! Cant wait!!

sezgls
sezgls

Codemaster kicks a**... Dirt was amazing, But This will be even better!!!

Tymccool
Tymccool

seen the trailer, now want to play the game!

pudgexd
pudgexd

I hope a demo will be release soon

rpgnutt
rpgnutt

i have not played a racer since underground and most wanted but that look like it could change this look like a must have.( demo anyone).

GetafixOz
GetafixOz

Fiction based on fiction.... coooooooool.... or is that warm ?

tevic
tevic

150 km custom races... omg !!!!!!

Zo-so
Zo-so

This game looks awesome! I hope it ends up as good as it looks!

Zo-so
Zo-so

[This message was deleted at the request of the original poster]

SadPSPAddict
SadPSPAddict

looks great, sounds awesome. Can't wait!

Jackson97
Jackson97

I want this game so bad! : ( hope there will be a demo soon

Pete5506
Pete5506

Starting to sound good, I hope there is a demo

ger14
ger14

Scullyy>>>> thats not free roam, thats a actual race those arrows are in.

ger14
ger14

wooow nice, cant wait. Ive been tracking this game since it was first posted on gamespot!

RAFF101
RAFF101

The longest race is a 4 hour raid race across the map. Basically they give you a finish point and you get to it by any means or route. So I am sure there will be a wide variety of times for races.

BeastEator
BeastEator

plz let this game get good reviews! its been a while since ppl have heard of a racing game!

konradak
konradak

This looks pretty sweet. Hope it turns out good.

Scullyy
Scullyy

why would a free-roaming racing game have huge arrows on the screen showing you were to go?

_Jouk
_Jouk

This'll be great driving. Streets will be nothing compared to dangerous shortcuts in Fuel.