Kart racers come in all shapes and size. Mario Kart combined a playful approach to the genre with shells, bananas and psychedelic boost inducing stars in an unusually colorful environment and many others followed suit. But on the odd occasion, the typical cart racer takes a serious approach. Split Second arguably fit the genre with its destructive triggers and Blur took a relatively different turn with a realistic look with sci-fi overtones in terms of weaponry. Now, i-Friqiya have released their own entry into the genre and it’s nothing short of being the heir to the throne.
Fuel Overdose fits in with its release date, whether coincidentally or just part of the marketing ploy being over saturated as we walk into our own demise. Being set within a post-apocalyptic world – complete with rifles, rockets, ropes and… claymores – it’s certainly not shy of combining nearly every element available to use when on a virtual racecourse.
Cramped lanes, sharp corners, oddly placed roadside bombs and half destroyed landscapes mean Fuel Overdose never struggles to throw you into a make-or-break situation every 10 seconds. While you’re avoiding holes in the floor and grappling onto the car infront, thus springing yourself forward, another driver is preparing to drop a literal tonne-of-bricks onto your car. That, or detonate a bomb on your 9 o’clock.
While Fuel Overdose sets itself as a tactical racing game, it shows itself as an incredible arcade racer too. Just as you’d expect from something like Street Fighter or Tekken, the story mode plays out in 30 minute bursts. You’ll choose a character and their car before following their narrative as you fight your way through 4-5 races, with the aim to come in at first place not always being at the top of the agenda. Following that you’ll see a nice “To be continued…” promp before the credits roll.
With 8 characters to choose from – each holding a mixture of traditional anime and western animation in their design – you’ll be hard pressed to pick one over another when it comes to gearing up for the race. Where each car has the generic weapon set-up, each character does not. You’re advised to try out each within the campaign mode to get a good feel for their multiple signature moves and vehicles and decide from there which one you’d like to take into the championship mode or online multiplayer. Just make sure you’ve upgraded your favorite components beforehand!
Fuel Overdose excels itself as both a driving and action title. Blending together the need for arcade-esque twitch reflexes, spatial awareness, driving ability and strategy makes the game really stand out as something that can be played until mastered, or just set up as part of a casual gaming night among friends. It’s as if MotorStorm replaced the ability to run over motorbike drivers in favor of just blowing them – and yourself – up in the process. Before each race you’ll be able to spread your budget out amongst rifle ammo, rockets, mines and roadside bomb detonators and fine tune each of them to squeeze out a little more tactical rope to employ on the circuit.
As you dart around the track you’ll be constantly on the lookout to blast a hole in the opposition in front of you. Using the R1 and L1 buttons to cycle through the use of a speedy rifle or – if you’re not afraid of a bang – rocket launchers and deplorable mines. Using the X button deploys these primary attacks, while looking for the chance to use the aforementioned ropes – and a good deal of timing and trajectory – to hurtle yourself around sharp corners or latch onto the player in front; choose the second option and you’ll have to make the decision whether to fling yourself forward like a rock on a catapult or channel a burst of electricity down the lines – just be aware of the opponents ability to reverse it back at you.
In the end, I-Friqiya has crafted an immensely fun, crafty and – at times – very difficult blend of action, strategy and racing. In a way, it stands there as a testament to the kart racers that stood out themselves as the pinnacle of arcade racing done right. And then it puts them to shame. It’s the very blend of everything the genre has offered in the past, but with enough well thought out twists to land itself atop the pack. You owe it to yourself to pick this up if you’ve ever driven a virtual car for whatever reason.
Audio/visual: 3/5 - Probably the only area still needing attention here. Some maps did have a noticeable slow-down at the start, but this was usually fixed on the later laps. The music leaves a tad to be desired however.
Gameplay: 5/5 - A brilliant mix of strategy and action all tied into some solid top-down driving.
Innovation: 5/5 - There’s no limit to the amount of twists and turns in a race here. The mix of weapons and strategy often has you ranging from 1st to 8th place more than once per match.
Value: 5/5 - A daunting challenge mode, fairly lengthy story mode and purchasable upgrades among other features gives you plenty to do outside the multiplayer aspect.
Final Score – 4.5/5
- Josh reviewed the EU release of Fuel Overdose on PS3. Framerate issues have since been optimized in later patches and the US release -