Do you like chicks? No, not baby chickens. Girls. Attractive girls. Attractive girls wearing scant apparel. Because that seems to be what the makers of Juiced 2: Hot Import Nights are hoping. They seem to be hoping that you like lovely ladies, loud pulsating music, and the enthusiastic decoration of cars via paint, decals, and miscellaneous aftermarket accessories. Oh yeah, and there’s some racing too, in case you might be interested in that sort of thing as well.
Assuming for a moment that your primary interest here is, in fact, the racing portion of the game, the good news is there’s actually a fair amount of it hidden under the polished chrome fašade. Nowhere near the attempted hyper-realism of a Gran Turismo or Forza Motersport iteration, Juiced 2 falls pretty far to the arcade end of the racing spectrum, and for the most part does it well. Car physics can get a little cartoony at times, but the racing largely remains fast and fun with occasional necessity for suspension of disbelief. While there are a few neat little wrinkles included, like the ability to “spook” rival AI racers into crashing by driving tight on their tail, primarily what you get is pretty decent if somewhat unspectacular arcade racing action.
In career mode, the only option for solo gaming, you start out as you’ve no doubt done countless times before by creating an avatar. That done you’re all set to buy a car with the few pennies they front you and dive into the street racing rookie league. Racing in Juiced 2 falls into two basic categories—circuit racing and drift racing—with several variations of each on an array of different tracks. As you complete challenges like winning races and side bets with other racers, spooking the opposition, or accumulating drift points, you’ll climb up the ladder to higher racing divisions with the faster cars, tougher races, and bigger paydays that accompany them. There’s also an online career mode that works exactly the same way except that it also includes the ability to race actual people, which would be really cool if the matchmaking were easier and there were more people playing.
If you’re the type of racing enthusiast who loves tweaking gear ratios and the like to squeeze the most out of your autos’ performance, Juiced 2 will be a huge disappointment. While generic performance upgrades can be bought in the categories of power, handling, and weight, no greater ability to tinker is included. Further trouble springs from the fact that all but the most basic upgrades for each division must be unlocked through fairly difficult challenges, which can create an unfortunate catch-22 situation—if you need the upgrade to beat the challenge that unlocks the upgrade, you’re screwed. On the other hand, if you’re the type of racing enthusiast who loves tweaking decal layouts and paint jobs, you’re in luck, as Juiced 2 offers a very comprehensive set of options for tricking out your car’s appearance. Though many of the pre-fab decals and patterns are locked initially, they can be unlocked by completing labeled career mode goals, providing an incentive to try your hand at events that you might otherwise skip.
All said, Juiced 2 is an okay little racing game. There’s a lot of stuff built up around the actual racing—pictures of pretty girls, a frenetic soundtrack, and a whole Driver DNA mechanic that doesn’t really seem to do anything at all—but once you cut through all that to the content itself it actually ain’t half bad. The graphics aren’t going to blow you away, and there’s nothing here that’s going to dramatically change how you think about arcade racing, but that doesn’t stop Juiced 2 from being a fun ride. Challenges are plentiful offline with some interesting online options thrown in, and there is much cosmetic pimpin’ of rides to be had by those who crave it.