Format: Xbox

4 005209 063166
Age Restrictions: 12+
17 June 2005

Juiced, as in life, is all about the car. Style comes in a close second to speed, and Juiced offers thousands of real-time modding combinations that empower players to create their ultimate personality-infused street machines. But it takes more than a fresh coat of pearlescent paint to earn respect on the road; it takes the ball bearings to go up against the trash-talking, nitrous-burning faithful who want to strip everyone of their cash, cars and pride...

We received a copy of Juiced to review two days before it's official UK release date. This was a game I was eagerly anticipating, but maybe I had built this up a little too much. I found it to be a poor cousin to the Grand Turismo series of games - same basic idea, but transported to the streets.

The game features more than 50 licensed vehicles, including Toyota, Honda, Nissan, Dodge, Ford, Mazda Mitsubishi, Pontiac, Holden, Volkswagen, Fiat, Renault, Subaru, Peugeot and Chevrolet; Hundreds of authentic aftermarket parts from leading manufacturers such as A'PEXi, AEM, Bridgestone, Ferodo, Konig, Alpine and HKS that provide players with thousands of personalised vehicle customisation combinations; Progressive, non-linear gameplay that enables players to build their characters and cars, and gain respect and notoriety by winning races and cash; Unique blending of simulation and the high-octane appeal of arcade-style racing; Ability to build custom racing crews that work together as a team to win races; Authentic car physics and damage; and Online head-to-head play.

I'll get the good parts out of the way first: To start with the paint jobs you can give your car are pretty neat - as are all the add-ons you can attach to make it look the business.

Having individual racers that you can interact with and bet against reminded me, ever so slightly, of that old classic (to me any way) Playstation game Porsche Challenge. The animated characters range from pretty cool to pretty awful. But they do add something new to this genre.

It's also fun to race against drivers that you slowly build up a relationship with - especially if you have no friends to play with, or don't want to be bothered with online play. Betting you can beat one of the other drivers is fun, as is betting your car against theirs - but be warned! If you go down this road (no pun intended!) a driver who you could easily beat in a street race, suddenly seems to pick up the pace when their car is on the line - and you'll be left on the starting blocks as they zoom off into the distance.

Now for the negative points, and there are quite a few: Firstly all of the roads look identical. It looks like someone has jazzed up an old '80s arcade racing game's backgrounds. There is nothing here that makes you go: "Wow!" And it would have been nice to have had the odd stray car going about it's business - if this is real street racing, where are all the other cars - or parking at the side of the road to make your job harder.

The handling of the car is one of the worst I've ever seen. The car floats above the road and handles like a brick. Not only that, but the other drivers don't seem to be able to see you, and insist on ramming you and then moaning at you for crashing into them. And don't even get me started on racing in rainy conditions - all the other cars drive as though there was no rain and your car handles as though you are driving through treacle.

And the biggest moan of all... it's way too repetitive. In the Grand Turismo series of games there were huge races were you had to pit several times in order to complete a level. In Juiced all of the tracks are very short and look identical. So you spend your entire time competing in, what feels like, the same race over and over again.

Doing a quick trawl on the Internet I discovered that quite a few US reviews were floating around. After reading them I begun to wonder whether we had been sent the wrong game. A lot of the reviews gave 8/10 and applauded the games realistic graphics and gameplay - something which I couldn't possibly agree with.

Sure you can have fun customising your car and pushing that nitro button to burn off your competitors, but at the end of the day this falls far short in the racing department - which is a shame. I really wouldn't race out and buy this.

Pete Boomer

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