|System: DS, X360, PS2, PSP, PS3, PC||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Juiced Games||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: THQ||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Sept. 17, 2007||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1-4||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: TEEN||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by Nathan Meunier
Racing is just racing right? Think again. When it comes to fast cars, there's a world of difference between the sanctioned family fun of a NASCAR event and illicit underground street racing. For those who are enamored with the custom modded rides, busty ladies, status-driven egos, and urban landscapes of the latter, Juiced 2: Hot Import Nights offers an unhinged, high octane experience that aims to please.
Though street racing culture may not be your cup of tea, it's hard to deny a good racing game when you see one. If you look beneath the glitzy surface - HIN features menus laden with scantily clad models and pumping electronic music - the game engine is solid enough to give car enthusiasts what they desire. In HIN, players will take to the streets to compete in a variety of racing challenges across four major cities as they work their way through 10 different race leagues. In career mode you'll start out as a rookie, and the road to the ranks of the racing elite is a long and arduous one. Progressing from one league to the next requires meeting a certain number of mission objectives in each. Whether it's a matter of getting a perfect lap, breaking a speed barrier, winning a bet, finishing first place, spooking your opponents, or getting a high drift score, each goal is challenging and will frequently require patience and skill to persevere.
HIN introduces a unique drift mechanic that's absolutely essential to master if you want to continue progressing through the game beyond the first few leagues. Drifting around corners is helpful during normal race as it allows you to regain spent nitro boosts. In drift-specific races, chaining numerous drifts is insanely tricky, yet completely rewarding when you pull it off. With some practice, it's possible to drift through large portions of some of the twistier tracks for mega points. Controlling your racer is about as basic as it gets. The d-pad handles turns, there's one face button for gas, another for brakes, and the right shoulder button fires up the nitro. Touch controls are limited to menu selections, and the touch screen mainly serves as a map. You can trigger the nitro with the stylus instead, or zoom the map in and out, but the touch screen is best left alone when in the thick of the action.
Steering controls are a bit stiff at first, due in part to the poor steering capabilities of your early race machines. This improves as you pick up new cars to race. Early on, you'll be plowing into guardrails and wiping-out at regular intervals. Unfortunately, you'll often come to a near-dead stop when running into the sidelines, rather than exploding in a fiery mess, or flying end-over-end through the air. Adding vehicle damage would have been a nice touch, or at least a more realistic crash mechanic.
Races take place on many winding tracks across a handful of city locales including London, Rome, San Francisco, and Tokyo. The cityscape and scenery in each location is authentic. The graphics look sharp, although it doesn't matter much when you get right down to it, because the scenery blows by at high speed once things get fired-up. Still, when you have a free moment to peek up on straight-aways it does look nice. Most of your attention will be focused on nailing the competition, as opponents are no walk in the park.