FUEL Xbox 360 Review

May 29, 2010 by  
Filed under Reviews & Features, Xbox 360, Xbox

In my recent review, I praised Sacred 2 for its sizable environment, but the entire world of Ancaria would fit in a little corner of FUEL’s extraordinary 5000+ miles. It’s recently been recognised as the biggest game world ever and after spending many hours speeding around it, it’s really quite easy to see why.

FUEL is set within an alternate present where the earth has been affected by global warming. There’s densely populated forests, plenty of mountains and grass, but, as a contrast to this natural beauty, along the way in the American wastelands you’ll also see charred trees, billowing smoke and wrecked vehicles, if it wasn’t for the facts that it makes for such a wonderful racing environment and that its music wasn’t all screeching guitars and banging drums it would really be quite sad, but to be fair this is not meant to be Flower.

You don’t initially have access to the entire 5000+ miles, instead its split into little chunks. It’s not really little chunks, but it is when you compare it to the entire 5000+ miles that gradually open up to you in FUEL. Winning races will eventually unlock other areas and there’s an impressive variety of contrasting terrain. Clothes for your rider and fuel which can be used to purchase better motors are also some of the rewards on offer.

The sizable environment and the racing can feel a little detached from one another. You never have to drive to the primary races and they can be accessed by simply just selecting them from within the menu, which would make a mockery of all this free roaming business, if not for the fact that there’s plenty to find along the way.

Driving around in free ride is worthwhile just to take in the sights and, in comparison to the more stressful racing, it can be quite a relaxing experience too. But for those looking for more point to their travels, there’s also vista points (see some nice views and impressive draw distances) and liveries for your many vehicles to discover along the way, as well as mavericks to take out to add to your vehicle collection (a feature ripped straight from Burnout Paradise) and Doppler Trucks to be crashed into that reveal to you points of interest on your map, which, considering you’ve just crashed into them and marked their paintwork, is really rather nice of them.

The racing side of things features a variety of modes, consisting of checkpoint Races (race through checkpoints, obviously), Knockout Races (last one through the checkpoints are eliminated), Chopper Chases (a race against a helicopter, believe it or not), Endurance (long distance racing), Raid (off-road racing), Speed Run (reach a destination within an allotted time limit), and Seek ’N’ destroy (take out vehicles by crashing into them).

Many of the races have scripted weather conditions, such as snowstorms, thunderstorms and even hurricanes. They not only look great, but can also affect your visibility and occasionally send objects into your path, of which can make for even more exciting and unpredictable racing.

There’s a great selection of vehicles on offer, all with satisfying, slidey arcade handling but with their own varying characteristics to take into consideration. Some are best suited to roads, whilst with others you can skip the roads and take some massive off road shortcuts to get the upper hand over your opponents.

Online, you’re able to free ride with others and, of course, race against them. You can even create your own races, which is pleasingly accessible and an excellent way to make use of that gargantuan environment. Sadly, performance can be a bit hit and miss, But in my experience never to the extent that it’s unplayable.

Outside of the staggering 5000+ miles, FUEL may do little to take the genre in new directions, but it gets the important aspects right: the vehicles are fun to race and the world may be huge, but it has enough in the way of diversity in its environment to make sure that things don‘t get too familiar. It all results in FUEL being a great and feature rich open world racer.