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Fuel Preview for Xbox
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Preview for Xbox

- William Usher, " Cyguration ", Senior Staff Writer
Friday, May 19, 2006 

Review Preview


Firetoads Software
May 2006
Rating Pending (RP)

Fuel Screenshot Gallery

Fuel Screenshot Gallery

Fuel Screenshot Gallery

It’s not often that we, as gamers, get racing titles that take a leap out into the apparently unknown field of originality. Most racing games either fall into the categories of simulation, go-karting, or weapon-based racing through lackluster courses. Every now and then racing fans will get a title that will leap out and grab you by the bottom of your pants, if you know what I mean. Last year’s sleeper-hit was Flatout, but this year it might be Fuel. Apart from both games starting with the letter ‘F’, and the drivers having a deep drawn attachment to rag-doll physics, all similarities drop there. Fuel is a high-octane, multiple vehicle rush through vastly scenic environments and gut-wrenching courses.

The name was originally coined for this game based on a concept that was later scrapped. Fuel was supposed to represent the amount of actual fuel players would have in their vehicles, and the constant struggle to retain it during a race. Later, this concept changed so that players would have to acquire a special kind of turbo-fuel that would boost the performance of their vehicle. The developers felt it would increase the intensity of the racing if players were doing insane things just to obtain the fuel! You want an idea I bet... how about: smashing into people, destroying objects, and pulling off insane tricks, stunts, and manuevers; and that just names a few!

Fly high or don’t fly at all!

In Fuel, players are encouraged to rampantly take charge of tracks with one of three different types of vehicles. Whether you’re biting dust in off-road jumps and hill-high dunes, or scaling walls of waves on a jet ski, Fuel gives gamers a diverse mix of racing in one package. Originally though, the game featured five different vehicle types, but after running into some development complications, Firetoad aimed for quality over quantity. In the truest sense of the term, the vehicle physics that didn’t meld with the seamless gameplay received the ol' axe. This brought the vehicle selection down to three specific, yet different, vehicles with various traits in their handling, maneuverability, and overall physical diversity.

The developers aim for making the racing in Fuel distinct in each vehicle, especially the way it handles. The varying physics will give gamers a unique experience per-vehicle, and the stunts, bumps, tricks and flips will vary accordingly. Depending on the track, and the vehicle, it will determine the physical maneuverability players will have during a race. So catching air and kissing the wind will be based on how well you adapt and use each vehicle to the fullest of their insane physics.

However, physics in this game just doesn’t apply to the vehicles. The rag-doll drivers will also take part in some high-flying action and uncanny crashes, as they unhinge from the driver seat and into mid-air. While some gamers might be thinking this is deja vu of last year’s Flatout by Bugbear Entertainment, I’m here to assure you that these games are very, very different. The ten selectable drivers and their flimsy bodied antics are handled in a much different manner than Flatout. If you’ve ever played Big Red Racing or Diddy Kong Racing, with the fun, freedom filled track designs and comical characters, then you’re scratching the surface of Fuel. Instead of being a destruction derby of cars and drivers, Fuel uses fast-paced, expansive track designs to propel players through interactive environments, forcing them to keep going faster and faster.

Score: Xbox - 1, PC - 0

There has only been a couple of occasions when a game ported on a console has one-upped it's PC brother. In this case, Firetoad has given Xbox owners a reason to rejoice; unlike the Xbox counter-part, the PC version will not be supporting the same multiplayer features as the Xbox. Exclusively, the Xbox will have same-system four-player modes available. Some of these modes include: Quick Race, Tournament mode, Chase, Tag, Fuel Grab and Elimination.

Another aspect of Fuel that has been finely tuned to the Xbox, aside from the multiplayer and physics, is the graphics. While other developers are head-over-heels for the next-gen platforms, Firetoad is tapping into the Xbox’s support for sharp graphics, vast environments and lightning fast physics. According to the developers, there’s a “50/50" balance between the visuals and the actual gameplay. So gamers can hopefully expect an even balance that doesn’t forfeit too much of one thing for another.

Even though this game is still a month out from being released, you can hold yourself over by checking out the exclusive interview here. So, if you're interested in multi-versatile racing, ten crazy characters, a multitude of insanely fun tracks, and interactive environments, be sure to look for Fuel to hit store shelves this June.

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