#923 Fuel

Posted: 23rd December 2019 by Jeroen in Games
Tags: , , , , , ,

832nd played so far

Genre: Racing
Platform: PC/Playstation 3/Xbox 360
Year of Release: 2009
Developer: Asobo Studio
Publisher: Codemaster

One part of the structure of the list is that 2009 games are over represented on the list – over a tenth of the list is that, which makes sense when the book was published in early 2010, when those would have been the best games, but something that feels off now. Fuel is one of those games that’s on the list because it was notable at the time, but doesn’t feel like it has as much of an impact now.

Fuel is an open world racing game that is set in a post apocalypic, Mad Max-like racing obsessed universe. I’m not sure how it’ll compare to others, like Burnout Paradise, the main other one I remember playing.

Our Thoughts

There is something that feels epic about the big wastelands of Fuel. You have these giant levels, with different biomes in and between them – starting off near a lake with a fairly wooded section, the second one feels like it has some more desert in it, and so on. I don’t they connect officially, but the world is set up as if they are, moving from area to area. They don’t really need to be anyway, each section is so big that you can get lost in there – and often do, as I did when I went racing around to explore the world and see what’s out there in this abandoned, messed up world. The Mad Max comparison is hard to avoid, although the variety of the world helps a lot and works a lot better.

The world has some incentives to explore. You have a bunch of collectibles – mostly liveries and pretty pictures, but it gets you moving. There are also challenges and purchasables to find and generally it always feels like you can get somewhere if you can get going a bit longer. The world is big enough that it takes quite a while between places, but the markers are decent enough to work. It’s fun to see the world, even if it doesn’t quite have the storytelling other games put in their open world – it’s mostly just there.

The real progression is available through the menu. There are a bunch of important races that you have to finish in different difficulties – an easy low difficulty, but the third, hard difficulty is challenging at the start and soon starts requiring a lot of practice. Since you need to finish a bunch to move to the next area – so far two of the three stars per race, but I’m sure that’ll change – you have to keep practicing to either finish a few harder races or get decent at all of them.

One nice addition is how the game sends you on your direction. They are dynamic and adapt as you drive, giving you a decent line on where you need to go next without getting confused if you experiment with your route. Unlike many other games, I never felt lost, which really helped my confidence – and gave me a good chance to pull ahead a few times.

Final Thoughts

Is Fuel worthy of being on the 1001? I don’t think it is with hindsight, even if we just look at games up to 2010, but I can see why it would have felt special at the time. There’s something magnificent about the big open worlds, but those same worlds also feel too big – not too empty, but the scale doesn’t work for driving around casually and finding things. The races are good, though, and I enjoyed those a lot as well – although again, I reached a skill ceiling I couldn’t breach yet. It’s maybe not amazing, but the game is fine and worth messing around in.

  1. […] my last write up about Fuel, I wrote about games that would have been good when the book was published, but wasn’t as […]