More than just a simple racing title, Fuel Overdose advertises highly tactical racing, while true at times, feels more like a wild mash fest with players unloading all their weapons at the same time. With a lot going on under the hood, it is best to familiarize yourself with the controls first. I know exactly what you are thinking, but with so much happening on-screen during races, it would be wise to heed my advice.
After global warming devastates Earth’s ecosystem and a deadly disease kills off the majority of the population, a group known as The Consortium manufactures a cure, but to obtain it, you must race. Story Mode presents the narrative through static character artwork and text dialog boxes, typical found in JRPGs.
Each of the characters have their own reasons for racing for the cure, but more often than not I found myself skipping over the dialog to get to the next race as quick as possible. The narratives are paper-thin which makes it hard to establish a connection with the characters. For this reason, I-FRIQIYA has included a Championship Mode that allows you to race without any interruptions.
Before each race cash can be spent on customizing your weapon load out, from the amount of ammo in the machine gun to the amount of mines that can be dropped. It’s completely customizable allowing you to create a balanced or one-sided load out depending on your preference. The standard arsenal of machine guns, rockets and mines aren’t the only equipment available, as you utilize grappling hooks to latch on to other racers and use them to boost around corners and detonators to set off bombs that are scattered across the tracks. Rockets will target a nearby racer, but you must take caution as your own rockets can damage you.
The special and ultra attacks are performed using the right stick and fit more in line with Street Fighter than a racing game. Trying to pull off half circle combos in the middle of a race was the last thing I expected to see in a racing game. Some racers can ensnare cars in an effort to slow them down, while others can call in an airstrike to rain missiles down on the competition or even launch themselves safely over incoming missiles and environmental hazards. Whatever your style is you will surely find a racer that you will be comfortable with.
As with the majority of other top-down racing games in the vein of Micro Machines, the camera is constantly on the move with the layout of the tracks, providing dynamically shifting angles, which are not always behind the car. If your view becomes obstructed – a frequent occurrence – you will be treated to an outline view of your car. I would be lying if I said it wasn’t disorienting, but it wouldn’t be nearly as frustrating if it wasn’t for the loose driving mechanics. Any time I tried to turn my car I felt as if I was fighting for control. Its as if the cars are stuck on “drift mode” for the entire race, so every slight turn of the wheel sends the tires squealing and the car more often than not into a wall. Never before have I had so much difficulty just to keep going on a straight path.
If you happen to fall off the track (which happens a lot, even for the AI) or explode, the game will reset your car on the track. If you are holding down the accelerator while you are being placed on the track you will go nowhere. In a racing game where less than a second is the difference between winning and losing, you have to wait until the game fully sets the car on the track before attempting to move. Respawn on an uneven section of the track and you may have to fight with the controls to keep your car from turning into a wall or heading off a cliff. I’ve lost count the amount of times I was placed in the exact same spot, which would my car would instantly veer off to the right every time and right into a lava flow.
The AI for the most part doesn’t fare that much better when it comes down to open hazards on the track. The other drivers are more than happy to launch themselves over cliffs rather than to slowing down to make the turn, although on one of the tracks it actually is faster to drive off the cliff and respawn than to take drive on the track. I’ve gone from first to second place in a flash because cars behind me were placed ahead of me at the end of the cliff once respawned.
The cel-shaded visuals are the highlight of the game with bright and colorful tracks and cars, while the character art is clearly inspired by Japanese anime and features some of the most endowed females I have ever seen. At one point in the flooded New York City track, the road narrows down to a thin strip of curved roads surrounded by water. The water is supposed to look as if it was washing over the road, but instead it looks like it is clipping through from underneath the environment and is more of an eyesore than anything else.
The online multiplayer supports up to 7 players online. Cars can be fully upgradeable, using CC points that are earned during either the Championship Mode and Challenge missions. This is a huge missed opportunity for anyone who wanted to simply stick to the multiplayer portion of the game, as you earn no bonuses for competing online. In the Championship Mode I only earned enough points to upgrade a single piece of a single car after five races. That’s it.
The potential for Fuel Overdose is never fully realized, due to some poor gameplay mechanics and less than stellar driving controls. The lackluster single-player must be played in order to unlock new cars and tracks for multiplayer, which is where I want to spend my time with the game. The starting cars are flat out terrible and the amount of time it takes to unlock new ones is just not worth the investment. If CC points could have earned through online races, it would have gone a long way.
Note: The Fuel Overdose review was written based on the PS3 version of the game provided by the publisher.