Article written by Dan Lee.
Published on 21/12/2012 at 02:00 PM.
Fuel Overdose is a car combat game played from a top down/isometric viewpoint. During the first decades of the 21st century a deadly disease known as ‘Lilith’ wreaked havoc upon the population. A cure was found, but it was soon discovered that it was extremely addictive.
To make matters worse, global warming increases to dangerous levels, and then a third of the population of Earth is wiped out. Those who survive are desperate for their fix of the cure, but a group known as The Consortium take power, as well as stocks of the cure. One of the few ways to get your hands on the cure is to take part in The Race of Chaos – a free-for-all where competitors drive kitted-out cars in an effort to win races. This all sounds great in theory, but Fuel Overdose is deeply flawed.
There are several modes to choose from when starting the game. Story Mode lets you choose one of twelve characters, and guide them through a number of races. In between these are static cutscenes (with some nice art) giving you more insight into your chosen character. Championship Mode is extremely similar to Story Mode, just without the cutscenes.
There is also a Challenge Mode which will put you into a race and give you a task to complete, such as win without using weapons. Lastly there is an online multiplayer mode with support for up to seven people. For clarity, the online mode couldn’t be tested as there was literally no one in the world online. This sounds like a decent amount of content, and it is, but Fuel Overdose is extremely hard to recommend.
For starters; the handling is almost comically sensitive, and extremely inconsistent. You might be able to take one corner at speed, but the next one will see you spin a full 360 degrees for no apparent reason. In fact, a lot of the time just driving in a straight line is nigh on impossible. It’s maddening. Even if you do manage to get control over your vehicle, the camera does its best to wreck any sense of enjoyment by periodically swooping to a different viewpoint, leaving you totally disorientated and going head first into a wall.
Your vehicle also seems prone to being spun sideways by your opponent’s bullets. There have been times where I’ve been leading the race, only to be spun 360 degrees by bullets coming from player two, then player three, then player four. It wouldn’t be as bad if the opponents were similarly affected, but no, some of them can even shrug off rockets without much effort.
This may sound like I’m being picky but it happens so often it kills any sense of progression, as finishing a race becomes more about luck than skill. In all honesty that’s the only time the AI shows any sense of self preservation, as normally they are found driving straight off ledges or into walls. Maybe they can’t get to grips with the handling either?
At least you can spawn back into a race quickly enough but, again, you are presented with a list of problems. First off, there have been times where I’ve been nudged off the side of the level, only to be spawned directly over the hole I initially fell down, causing me once again plunge to my doom. Funny the first time, but after four times in a row it lost its appeal.
In most racers of this ilk you are normally granted a few seconds of invulnerability after spawning, but not so in Fuel Overdose and you can quite easily find yourself being blown up several times in a row without being able to move an inch. It’s like the game hasn’t been play-tested.
Graphically, despite looking nice in the screenshots, Fuel Overdose is sub-par. The game engine also struggles to cope with what’s being asked of it, and most of the time the game will freeze for a second just as everyone leaves the start line. This is accompanied by drops in the frame rate whenever things get hectic. The music also isn’t great, and normally drowned out by the monotone buzz of your vehicle’s engine or the ever-present screech of tyres as you try and keep in a straight line.
There are some positive points to the game, however. I like the ability to upgrade your vehicle, and buy additional ammo before a race. Each character also has a number of special moves they can pull off, although some seem a little bit unbalanced – such as calling in an airstrike from a helicopter gun-ship!
- Nice range of vehicle upgrades.
- Special moves for every character.
- Poor vehicle handling.
- Poor AI.
- Incredibly frustrating camera.
- Problems with spawning.
- Game engine creaks when pushed.
- A lack of polish in every area.
On paper, Fuel Overdose sounds like the perfect arcade blast to dip into for half an hour whenever you feel the urge. Unfortunately, the reality is a lot less impressive, leaving us with a game that is deeply flawed in several key areas. With the wealth of quality titles on the PSN at the moment, this is extremely hard to recommend.