|System: PS3, X360, PC||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Asobo Studios||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Codemasters||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Jun. 2, 2009||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1, 2-4 (Online)||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Everyone||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by Amanda L. Kondolojy
Fuel is the new racer published by Codemasters, the same name behind racing powerhouses like Colin McRae: Dirt as well as Race Driver: GRID. With such great titles behind them, it is easy to assume that Fuel would have been yet another title that will live up to Codemasters' high expectations, particularly in the racing genre. But, while Fuel is certainly competent as a racer, and is indeed a great deal of fun, I can't say that it really excels as much as I was expecting it to.
According to some minimal in-game narrative, Fuel takes place in an alternate reality where the world has run out of fossil fuels, and people have moved to carbon neutral areas. However, since the world is no longer using fuel, a special breed of racers has cropped up to use the world's last remaining stockpiles of gasoline. They use all manner of vehicle, including cars and ATVs, to race around the barren wastelands that used to contain humans. There really isn't that much to the story, but honestly, its a racing game, so I wasn't expecting much.
The game starts you off in a free driving course in a small area. You can drive around and practice your turns, but you really can't do much. In order to start your career mode, you'll have to enter a complex menu, triggered by the select button. From here you can see the world map for Fuel, which has actually set a world record for its length, but more on that later. In addition to viewing the map, you can also select driving missions from the career mode as well as a special challenge modes. These two modes will be specific to the area of the map that you have unlocked, and each area will have a set number of races that you must win before moving on.
The main career mode features pretty straightforward racing, with plenty of fun tracks and obstacles. When you travel to a certain area of the map, you will have between 3-8 career events associated with the map. It isn't enough to simply place or show, you'll have to finish first and earn stars for your performance in order to move on. Fortunately, if you find yourself really struggling on a particular track in the career mode, you can always adjust the difficulty before starting up the race.
Although the career mode races are all about speed, the challenge modes are a little more off the wall. One of the early challenge mode missions involved chasing a helicopter and beating it to its location. Other challenges include cutting off drivers, and even tagging them like you would in the Burnout series. The challenge missions were a lot more fun than the career mode, and even though you need the stars to move forward, I found myself having a lot more fun with the challenges.
After clearing a certain number of challenges and career races, you will be able to move on to the next area. There are about twenty different areas that you need to unlock in order to completely unlock all the areas in the game. The game's map is incredibly huge, and Fuel recently set a world record with the size of it's in-game world, which is 5,560 square miles in area. Although I have yet to unlock the entire map, I used the level editor to create a track spanning about 1/10th of the map. It took me 30 minutes to drive across this comparatively small track. The sheer size of the world of Fuel is truly impressive, and if you just have a hankering to drive around, this is a great game with which to do so.