http://www.strategyinformer.com/ps3/fuel/review.html

We play FUEL...

Fuel has already made headlines this week as the biggest game ever with a Guinness World Record to show for it. Open-world racers are nothing particularly new though, what with Burnout Paradise and Test Drive Unlimited dipping their toes into the boundless waters of unrestricted driving. Even Need for Speed has dabbled with an open-world setup, and Midnight Club: LA recently offered a prime example of racing at your own leisure. But Fuelís 5,560 square miles of terrain takes the concept of an open-world racing game to incomprehensibly dizzy heights.

Itís an astonishing achievement made all the more impressive by the fact that the entire expanse can be traversed seamlessly without a single loading time to spoil the ride. Divided into sections, the gameís map consists of varying terrain ranging from forest greenery and muddy mountain roads to barren sand dunes and treacherous snow and ice plains. Each section has its own camp area which acts as your central hub, unlocked once you earn the required number of stars by completing career races. There are also challenges to spot throughout the world, which can be accessed alongside the career mode in the pause menu at anytime. Additional liveries for your vehicle and vista points provide added impetus to explore the landscape, but only the truly patient and dedicated will manage to muster the time and effort it takes to discover every single waypoint marker in Fuelís enormous world.


The draw distance is superb...

...and the weather effects look great...


Setting Fuel amid an empty, post-apocalyptic wasteland has unfortunately left the entire map somewhat sterile, with only the odd area of interest dotted between vast stretches of admittedly rather pretty grass, trees and dirt tracks. The most eye-catching visual spectacle is the sky, which is a swirling haze of clouds and inhospitable weather effects that sadly have no impact on the game beyond looking suitably brooding and dramatic. Sometimes the wind will whisk up a whirling eddy of dirt and debris, creating a strange particle effect around the screen, but thatís about the extent to which the weather has an effect upon the racing.

Itís only so long before boredom steadily creeps in while aimlessly driving around, and the gameís handling model isnít as accomplished or fun to play with as say, Motorstormís for example. In fact, attempting to compare the game to any of its more focused, off-road peers leaves a lot to be desired and ultimately leaves you yearning for the explosive crashes of Motorstorm or the insane air and stunts of Pure, neither of which Fuel has. Impacts are met with a dead stop or an instant reset, which is hugely disappointing. Even landing on your wheels at more than a 45 degree angle is punished by an annoying reset, so thereís not really any room to have fun thrashing your vehicle around with reckless abandon. After a while, you begin to realise that the scale of the open-world is the only significant feature in Asobo Studiosí off-road racer, and even this is soured by the desolate nature of the landscape, which has apparently been ravaged by global warming.


...even the racing is fun at times...

..and the vehicles are cool...

Thereís simply very little thatís meaningful or interesting to do in Fuel beyond racing from checkpoint to checkpoint, although being able to create your own races is admittedly a very nice touch that adds extra longevity to the proceedings. Race types consist of timed checkpoint dashes, knockouts, standard contests against the AI and helicopter chases. Of these, the chopper pursuits are the most enjoyable, taking advantage of the lack of boundaries, the route normally sending you barrelling down hills, through forests and across rocky paths. Otherwise, the rest of the racing can prove somewhat frustrating unless youíre willing to leave the in-game compass switched on to provide constant guidance via the HUD. Waypoints are then projected onto the screen, with your route marked out in obtrusive, flying red chevrons. Thereís a mini map in the bottom left corner that can be consulted should you find yourself getting lost, but in the middle of a race where you can be suddenly forced off the beaten path at any given moment, employing the HUDís arrows is nigh on essential though not particularly preferable.


...but ultimately, Fuel is thousands of miles of barren landscape...

...which is a real shame.
Successfully completing races earns you fuel, the gameís currency that enables you to purchase new vehicles. Most are motorcycles, buggies and cars that sport a Mad Max vibe in keeping with the post-apocalyptic theme. You can choose from a variety of different patterns and colours to apply to your ride, and you can customise your driver too - who is normally visible a lot of the time Ė with various garments including goggles and helmets. The number of options at your fingertips is actually quite nice, granting you a whole host of weird and wonderful vehicles whose paintjobs you can tinker with to your heartís content. Online play fleshes out the overall package, but whether youíll feel compelled to play depends entirely upon whether you can stomach the sparse world and the limited feedback between you and it.

Fuel is a game that we desperately wanted to like, but the lack of connection that you feel between your vehicle and the environment leaves the experience feeling a tad stale. There should have been spectacular impacts, mud spraying from your wheels, tracks carved into the dirt and more importantly, there should have been genuinely interesting, exciting features to uncover within the vast, sprawling game world. Itís all well and good that Asobo has managed to create such an immense area to play with, but it seems that the developer forgot to fill it with anything truly worthwhile. Although we found the game to be fun for the first hour or so, it proved difficult to find the incentive to enjoy repeated play once weíd driven around the world for hours on end. It sounds great on paper, but when thereís so little fuel to ignite our fire, you have to wonder if itís worth bothering with Fuel at all.

Top game moment: Seeing a raging electrical storm at dusk, while driving along a mountain road. Fuel can sometimes provide real visual spectacle. Sometimes.