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Preview for Xbox

- William Usher, " Cyguration ", Senior Staff Writer
Wednesday, July 12, 2006 

Review Preview


Firetoads Software
May 2006
Rating Pending (RP)

Fuel Screenshot Gallery

Fuel Screenshot Gallery

Fuel Screenshot Gallery

The multi-racing genre is a small one, but an interesting one nonetheless. Firetoad Software and Dreamcatcher are reviving the multiple-racing, multiple-vehicle category with their high-octane, explosive racing game, Fuel. However, Fuel isn’t the only game in this genre of video game racing that offers players an extensive set of vehicles for paved roads, off-roads, and water racing. There have been a couple of other titles that tried their hand at giving gamers the complete multi-racing experience.

One such game is Big Red Racing, a game which started a new kind of trend in gaming that few competitors have matched. Above and beyond all other racing titles in this genre, Big Red Racing has left a permanent mark as one of the most original, and over-the-top multi-racing simulators ever developed. Big Red Racing featured a handful of wacky characters to choose from, and a total of 48 racing vehicles across 24 massive tracks. Realistically, though, not all 48 vehicles were different. Instead, there were two different vehicles available per track, ranging from the likes of jeeps, semi trucks, monster trucks, mini-coopers, VW beetles, tractors, dump trucks, a six-wheeled dune buggy, a speed boat, a hydro-plane, two different helicopters, a spaceship, and a flying saucer. Realistically, the game only had maybe 20 distinct vehicles.

There has yet to be a game to come along with such a vast number of different vehicles that behave in a realistic manner. BRR sadly focused its efforts on the quantity of vehicles, rather than the quality of vehicles. Helicopters in BRR behaved originally, along with the speed boats and spaceships, but other than that, the remaining vehicles were almost identical in their handling. The physics, while decent arcade replicates, were about the weakest part of Big Red Racing’s repertoire. Still, Big Red Racing was a competent, original, multi-racing game for its time. Especially considering that it was another near-budget title for the PC, back in 1995.

Terep2 Deformers was a little-known game that only fared its hand in the freeware category. While this game had flimsy graphics and only two game modes, it was as explosive as a firecracker in an oily barrel. The physics shone through for this game in a miraculous way that very few racing games have been able to imitate. Terep2 gave either one or two players a unique racing experience with some amazing damage effects and uncompromising tracks. Not to mention, there was the option to create tracks and the freedom to race wherever gamers pleased. Racing across sand, dirt, mud, water, hills, mountains and insane jumps was not off-limits. The downfall for this game though, came in its limited amount of playable vehicles, and the fact that it never became commercial.

There was also the follow-up game in which Terep2 was based on, called Insane. This game was a no-holds barred off-road racing simulator that was all about the arcade action of 4x4s, twelve wheeled trucks, dune buggies, and jeeps to name a few. Insane gave gamers a well-rounded experience for racing off-road and even encouraged players to stray from the beaten path. The vehicle selection, while varied, was still less comprehensive than the list found in Big Red Racing. Still, the challenging, free-roaming tracks with random checkpoints, and polished physics made this game a solid multi-racing contender. This is despite its limited multiplayer features, which only allowed for a few players to race against each other online.

MX vs. ATV Unleashed has to be one of the most competent multi-racing games that match the legacy that Big Red Racing left behind. Bi-planes, dirt bikes, monster trucks and more can all go head-to-head in this unleashed racing beast. A big focus on multiplayer modes for both online and offline competitions was made, combined with an energetic, and original, career mode made this game an instant fan-favorite. The track selection was vast enough, and even came with a track editor to raise the replay values to limitless heights. While the vehicle selection was far from that of BRR, MX vs. ATV offered gamers a plentitude of tracks. The fleshed-out (mostly realistic) physics system also managed to keep the racing fair. Like Big Red Racing, monster trucks weren’t quite as powerful as they are in real life, and the dirt bikes were paced to the mobility of the 4x4s. Still, players were given vehicles with arcade-like handling patched over with semi-realistic effects, and a good dose of multi-racing action.

With the competition picking up its slack in recent years, the multi-racing genre now has future competitors vying to try new things and branch out with bigger ideas. Firetoad Software’s Fuel could be vying for the title as the new king of multi-versatile racing. The game is already rivaling Big Red Racing’s massive vehicle selection: toting more than 35 different selectable vehicles, 10 different characters to play, and 30 diverse locations that span the likes of 70 fully interactive single-player tracks.

From the looks of it, Fuel is offering gamers a lot for a budget-title. The game’s 35-plus vehicles will fall into three distinct vehicle-types, ranging from ATVs and jeeps, to jet-skis and other mobile water vehicles. The game will also feature a player-friendly physics system that not only distinctly separates each vehicle class, but also allows players the freedom to execute numerous stunts and insane tricks. The developers wanted to ensure that the physics were as well-rounded as possible, and sought to make each vehicle class behave very differently from each other. All of the racing, though, centers around the game’s real gimmick, which drives players toward the goal of attaining super-fuel. This is achieved by smashing through, rolling over, and breaking down objects, people, and environmental obstacles. The 70 tracks will feature a variety of ways to race through them and each track features completely destructible elements.

The game’s focus on the freedom to explore and destroy, in non-stop action racing, offers an appealing alternative to other multi-racing simulators out there. Fuel will also come jam-packed with a variety of multiplayer modes. However, if there was anything note-worthy that’s missing from this game, it would have to be the lack of visible vehicular damage. Regardless, Fuel appears to be shaping up to be a pretty good multi-racing game with tons of action. Racing fans can look for Fuel to hit store shelves come July 25, for both the Xbox and PC.

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