Fuel Overdose Review For PlayStation 3
This game was reviewed on the PlayStation 3.
I have fond memories of playing various Micro Machines games on the Sega Mega Drive with friends from school as a child, zipping over and around bowls of cereal or pool tables for hours, until our parents came to collect us from whoever’s house we happened to be at that night. Since those halcyon days, I’ve never really had the chance to experience a racer of a similar ilk, although I must admit that Fuel Overdose, by developer I-Friqiya, comes pretty close.
Though Fuel Overdose doesn’t contain toy-inspired vehicles, it features a similar player viewpoint, and the same loose yet carefree handling of the Micro Machines series. However, when a recent release causes you to reminisce about a game soon approaching its 20th birthday, it’s almost enough to set off alarm bells in your head. Although Fuel Overdoseisn’t an entirely unworthy experience, it does contain some fairly grievous issues that should be addressed.
Fuel Overdose is set in a post-apocalyptic future where human society as we know it has ceased to exist, due to a mixture of global warming, disease and addiction, topped off with a meteor strike. Lilith, a disease brought about by global warming, has eradicated swathes of humanity. The only known cure is a vaccine which causes its users to become hopelessly addicted to it, with the side effects of withdrawal as potent as the disease it was engineered to cure. In a move recognisable to those familiar with The Hunger Games series, a race, known as the Race of Chaos, is established to allow competitors the chance to earn vaccination supplies for their tribes or encampments. To this end, the cast of characters present in Fuel Overdose convene in a single location, ready to race to the death in exchange for glory and their peoples’ salvation.
For a downloadable game which doesn’t take up a huge amount of space on your console’s hard drive, Fuel Overdose boasts an admirable amount of content. There are five different modes, namely Free Race, Championship, Story Mode, Challenge, and Multiplayer, and each individual option (aside from Free Race) requires a fair chunk of time to complete fully. I must admit that it’s strange to see Story Mode and Championship as two different sections, as they could quite comfortably have been amalgamated, but they also serve two different purposes. Championship allows you to unlock the various tracks for use in Free Play, and money to buy and upgrade vehicles. Story Mode, on the other hand, introduces you to the various competitors taking part in the Race of Chaos and their motivations for doing so.
Fuel Overdose contains a sizeable roster of different characters for player to use – eight in total – each with their own background, story and unique special moves available to them. Rosa, for example, is participating in the Race of Chaos to investigate and avenge her father’s death in a previous competition, whilst Hayden is assigned to the race by his people as the next competitor in line. These character backgrounds tie in to specific races, with Rosa forced to duel someone who she thinks is her father’s killer, and Hayden being haunted mid-race by the ghost of a friend. Story Mode also features specific levels where what happens in the narrative affects the parameters of a particular race, with some races requiring you to finish ahead of a particular rival, and others leaving you unable to use your weapons and being forced to race using your driving skills alone. Strangely, aside from the narrative-specific races, it doesn’t matter where you finish each individual race in Story Mode, so long as you cross the finish line.
Thanks to the post-apocalyptic setting, Fuel Overdose allows players to compete in five different real-world locales, each with a certain twist that moves them away from how they’re usually visualised. New York City, for example, is largely under water, whilst Prague is now a volcanic wasteland. Despite these changes, each environment is instantly recognisable thanks to elements such as New York’s wide open streets, or Cairo’s winding alleyways and tight corners. Although the visuals throughout the game aren’t brilliant, it’s never difficult to tell where you’re supposed to be. In fact, the greater problem is working out where you’re supposed to go, as the camera does its best at times to prevent you from being able to tell where the bends and turns are, because the angle at which you view many of the tracks is too steep to see the upcoming portions of track. Furthermore, if you suffer from motion sickness when playing videogames, I’d advise you to steer well clear of Fuel Overdose, as the camera swings wildly. It also makes it incredibly difficult to control your vehicle immediately after it swings as well, as your racing perspective is altered drastically.
Perhaps the most enjoyable aspect of Fuel Overdose is becoming familiar with each individual character and their specific move sets. Although each vehicle comes equipped by default with machine guns, rockets, landmines, a grappling hook, and a detonator, each particular character has a couple of Special attacks, and one Ultra attack that are unique to him/her. For example, Rosa uses wind-based powers to blow competitors off of the track or throw them into the air, while Hayden uses missile strikes from a helicopter to destroy fellow racers. Other characters use different powers, based on properties such as Dark Magic or, weirdly, Tigers (e.g. the Tiger Dash), and each attack causes a lot more inconvenience to your rivals than the bog-standard weapons. In fact, the only downside to using these powers is that the bar which indicates how close you are to unlocking them for use is tucked away in the top corner, making it incredibly difficult to read while you’re supposed to be focusing on the course.
Fuel Overdose is a strange beast in that, whilst it attempts to do something different by bringing a storyline and special moves to a racer, it instead comes across as rather generic, serving its purpose well as a racer but being rather unremarkable otherwise. The additions that sets it apart from your usual vehicular experience are welcome, but the racing itself is often frustrating and sometimes literally sickening. That’s not to say that there isn’t fun to be had here, as once you’ve dropped a couple of Gravol and gotten used to the loose handling mechanics, Fuel Overdose proves to be quite light-hearted and enjoyable, and this only increases when you play it with a couple of friends. What’s more, Fuel Overdose contains a sizeable amount of content that’ll take devoted players a while to get through, with an interesting (if disjointed) narrative tying everything together. Fuel Overdose isn’t a game that’s going to win any awards for originality or execution, but it’s also far from undeserving of your attention.
Fuel Overdose scores 4.0 out of 5.0
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