PS2 REVIEW: JUICED

Is Juiced one of the best racing games of all times? Don't bet on it.

Juiced is a decent racing game but it takes on more than it can adequately handle. So many of the features and options seem like tired old clichés that the developer's obviously believed just have to be included in such a racing game. This whole street culture thing is also on the lame side. In real life not everyone that races is into the same "culture." That means they don't all speak the same vernacular or dress in gang garb. The subtleties are missing here making it difficult to immerse yourself in this outlaw lifestyle. At no time did I ever feel as though I was playing anything more than an average arcade game.

Betting is what can make and break this game. You need money to upgrade your vehicles but more importantly you need money to enter into races. If you're not a very skilled driver your cash supply will dwindle considerably making it very difficult for you to progress - needlessly difficult. To generate more cash you are allowed to make bets with other drivers. That means that you don't have to come in first place so long as you beat the driver that you bet against. Of course you could lose the bet which would send you closer to the poor house, and it's really tough to climb your way out of such abject poverty. There are plenty of free races on the calendar but they become few and far between later in the game. I just don't agree with the importance placed on the availability of cash which detracts from the racing.

There are close to 50 licensed cars and they do take on damage which is a move that I applaud. The vehicles' performance is affected by damage which can be inflicted by numerous obstacles in the city such as sidewalks, curbs, lampposts and buildings. Collisions with other vehicles will also cause you some damage but with deliberate planning you just might be able to slow down or completely eliminate some of your competition since it will also cost money to repair the damage. Just make sure you don't end up with too much yourself.

Surprisingly Juiced doesn't have one specific gimmick. There are some gameplay elements that are relatively unique such as racing for pink slips and the ability to assemble a crew which includes other drivers that you can get to sub for you if you're not up to the challenge. If you let another driver take the wheel you have to watch the entire race in real time. Even though the speeds are in the stratosphere it's still really boring unless you're doing the driving.

You can learn how to handle your vehicle with flair and finesse in the Showoff mode which rewards you for pulling off a variety of tricky moves with the handbreak. Powersliding, donuts and J-turns can be performed by careful use of the handbreak. Some of these moves come in handy for navigating turns at high speed which is essential to winning in the Career mode. The cars handle well with good physics which extends well into arcade territory. There are hundreds of aftermarket parts that you can use to customize the vehicle to your specific requirements. The more upgrades you acquire in the power department the faster you can cruise as new tracks will be unlocked to facilitate higher speeds.

The soundtrack rocks but the voiceovers get repetitious fast. I guess the "street racing culture" was too lazy to continue adding new words and phrases to their lexicon. The framerate is really smooth and the cars not only look good but they move like lightning, complete with motion blur to heighten the sense of speed. The tracks could have been more realistic as they appear to be littered with too many obstacles which is very unnatural looking not to mention frustrating.

Juiced is an average racing game that places too much emphasis on obtaining money which artificially inflates the perception of challenge. There is a good racing engine underneath all the crust but with so many great racers out there why even bother?

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System: PS2, X, GC
Dev: Juice
Pub: THQ
Release: June 2005
Players: 1 - 6
Review By Fenix
RATING (OUT OF 5)
OVERALL
3.0
GRAPHICS
4.0
CONTROL
3.0
MUSIC/FX
3.5
VALUE
2.5