GC 2008: FUEL Impressions
Written Tuesday, September 23, 2008 By Dan WebbView author's profile
FUEL from Codemasters is what I like to call, ambition personified. The title was originally “Grand Raid Offroad” about 3 years ago but has since then expanded in to a monstrous project where we have what will be the world’s first open world, off road racer.
FUEL is set against the backdrop of a ravaged world, one where climate change and the resulting radical weather changes have certainly got the better of it. The map is complete with authentic North American landmarks and spans an incredible 5,000 square miles. The world is pretty much a mini version of the United States so instead of the Grand Canyon spanning a massive 2,000 kilometres, it measures only 120 kilometres. The map as a whole boasts incredible variety in terms of environment, allowing the player to race through deserts, canyons, forests, beaches, valleys and a whole array of types of environment that are usually associated with the United States. The whole region is said to feature some pretty eerie but intriguing areas from sand buried cities (picture Resident Evil Extinction’s Vegas), forest fire damaged towns to even those that have been affected by global warming’s super freeze (as seen in Day After Tomorrow).
The game contains approximately 100,000 kilometres of road and tracks and features a dynamic day/night cycle complete with its own weather system. The player will run in to tornados, sandstorms, snow, rain ... you name it. Despite the vast size of the world, FUEL will seamlessly load and stream off the disc so you don’t have to endure any painful load times mid game.
The premise of FUEL is simple. The world you live in has been pretty much been devastated by global warming and as a result this area had to be evacuated and its people are now off living a comfier life elsewhere. You take control of one of the world’s adrenaline junkies who now roams the desolate region racing like-minded individuals across this once populated area. Welcome to the newest of extreme sports.
The races take place across a number of different surfaces ranging from gravel, sand, mud to the more traditional tarmac giving you plenty of variety in race types and feel. The races are described as being dynamic and things will happen mid race that will force you down different routes or through different shortcuts to add to the intensity of the experience. It’s times like these where the intelligent GPS comes in to play as it then remaps your route, so don’t worry, you should never be stuck wondering which way to head. Why is it intelligent you ask? Well, the GPS assesses your vehicle and the race conditions and it isn’t a traditional GPS in the sense that won’t function while off the mapped roads. Asobo Studios have worked hard to create an off-road GPS system to complement the game and the one they created not only assesses the terrain and the environment but also has the ability to assess water depth amongst other things, allowing you to find a suitable crossing across rivers and such. A true off-road 3D GPS one could say.
FUEL also has an in-game mission editor built in that allows you to set the route of your races from where you start, where you finish, which way you head, to the time of day and the weather conditions you want. A worthy mode to take online and get involved with not only your friends but the community as a whole. Hopefully, we can see some sort of sharing feature built in to the final build.
The game will feature more than 70 unique vehicles including bikes, quads, trucks, muscle cars, special cars (like “rocket cars”) and many, many more. You can then take these vehicles in to either the career mode with boasts “maximum variety” or you can take them online to get involved in some pretty epic 16 player online races.
The whole backdrop and ambition behind FUEL is pretty overwhelming and after seeing a map of the whole world, it kind of knocks you off your feet a little. The huge diversity in locations and the whole premise of the world makes for an explorer’s dream world and even better, an off roader’s heaven. If Asobo and Codemasters can get the visuals and the gameplay mechanics up to the same spec as the rest of the publisher’s other recent racing titles, then I think it’s safe to say that Codemasters will have another racing gem in their bag. However, it’s very early stages for FUEL and a lot can go wrong from here to spring next year but if Asobo’s drive and quality matches their ambition, FUEL will certainly turn a few heads.
FUEL will be available on the Xbox 360, PS3 and PC in Q2 2009.