Fuel Overdose Review
In theory, a car combat game that blends a bit of Twisted Metal with RC Pro Am should be fairly foolproof. You’ve got two concepts that work well enough on their own to provide a lot of fun times for players, and can combine two completely different gameplay setups that blend fairly well together – as seen in games like Rock ‘n Roll Racing and Karnaaj Rally. Fuel Overdose tries to mix things up by limiting your ammo and overall supplies and calling itself tactical – something you could get away with if the game was fairly balanced, but it isn’t and it’s a crippling problem that renders something that should be fun into something that isn’t.
You’ve got a variety of cars to choose from with their own pros and cons, and each generic character in the post-apocalyptic world has their own special attacks and skills. That’s all well and good, and everything there works nicely. There is some strategy thrown in with a grappling hook that allows you to hook onto corners ala Jet Moto and get past tight corners without much trouble once you learn it, or you can use it to sling yourself off of opposing cars for a speed boost, which takes far less practice to learn. Every resource you use has a limit on it, and between races you’re given an allotment of cash to spend however you wish on items. You can put back bomb chargers in exchange for more machine gun fire and that kind of thing, although it seems quite ridiculous to limit THE AMOUNT OF COMBAT YOU CAN DO IN A COMBAT RACER. These limits don’t seem to apply to enemies either, who seem to be able to fire off as many rounds as they want without any consequence.
Another major issue comes in the form of damage from collisions – any collision with another vehicle takes health away, but when you’re in a crowded field it’s easy to find yourself losing a ton of health while your AI opponents only have a fraction gone. If you collide and are sent off-course, you can respawn by hitting Select, but it often takes a few seconds before the accelerator will even register – another issue that doesn’t seem to affect AI rivals. The sometimes-slippery driving mechanics also make it far too easy to slide off-course, resulting in frequent resets.
It’s a shame that playing the game elicits frustration more than it does fun, because while playing, you can imagine how fun the game would be if its ideas were executed well. Occasionally, things click into place – more when you’re taking part in multi-player since it’s a far more even playing field. While offline multi-player isn’t an option, online you can have some fun with the game and enjoy it without the goofy story mode or things like challenge missions that just place you on existing tracks to help make the game seem bigger than it really is.
The story mode is at least comedically bad because of how cheap so many elements of it seem. The character art is nice and big – which is good since there’s only one main drawing for each character, and they just remove the front of the jaw for a frame to indicate talking. The funniest parts come from arguments, which result in the art being darted in the general direction of the other person, or being awkwardly moved up and down to indicate anger. I absolutely love the unintentional comedy on display.
The character art is also fairly funny, as it’s basically just generic crazy anime art designs – complete with women going into a warzone nearly topless and guys running around shirtless with gallons of gel in their hair. The in-game graphics are pretty good at times, with the minor cel shading effect around the cars looking good and the car designs seeming fine, while environments usually look very good but are hurt by little things that take you right out of the game. During a rain-soaked area, you’ll be sucked into the stunning rain effects, and then bewildered as water rushes over the terrain and looks like more a graphical glitch than something intended to be in the game.
The audio is shockingly good, in particular the soundtrack. It’s full of rock songs that sometimes have lyrics and are nearly on par with stuff you’d listen to on the radio – it’s so good that I wish the soundtrack was available to purchase. The sound effects are also fairly good, with the machine gun fire in particular sounding exactly as it should, while the special attacks have a nice ferocity to them and the bombs you can detonate throughout the track sound excellent as well. It’s kind of a shame that the audio is the best part of the game, but also not because it’s good to see a game take audio design so seriously. Thankfully, they didn’t try to add voice acting to the ridiculous storyline, as it probably wouldn’t have helped the audio any, and just taken away from the game as a whole unless it added more unintentional comedy to the proceedings.
Fuel Overdose is a huge disappointment and a sloppy game as a whole. It isn’t completely devoid of good stuff, but it isn’t anywhere near as good as it could’ve been given the concept. The core gameplay is fundamentally flawed on its most basic level, to the degree that mere patching wouldn’t be able to fix it. It’s a shame too since I really wanted to like the game, but it’s nearly impossible to do so in single player. Multi-player makes it worth playing if it hits the $5 range or is a PS+ freebie since that is a lot of fun and tends to be far more fair to players than the AI opponents are.
Reviewed By: Jeremy Peeples
This review is based on a digital copy of Fuel Overdose for the PlayStation 3 provided by I-Friqiya.