When it comes to racing games, I am an arcade racer at heart. It’s not that I don’t appreciate the more realistic racers. Forza and Gran Turismo all have their place in the racers pantheon, with their fancy cars made of fancy parts driving on their fancy roads with all those fancy physics. Some people like their cars to follow all those real life rules.
I don’t. I like it when my cars drift so hard that their tires catch fire. I like it when I can shoot things, like turtle shells or lightning, at the cars passing me SO THEY DON’T PASS ME! I like karts, I like speed, I like plumbers racing dinosaurs, I like vinyl figures you can design yourself driving cars that are powered by a beating heart.
Fuel Overdose tried to replicate all of these things, and thought they could make them even better by adding tits. Sadly, they even failed at that.
Based around a set of races called Race of Chaos, this woeful racer tells, nay, attempts to tell the story of a people-killing virus named Lilith and its effect on the planet both before and after it’s hit by an E.L.E. (or Extinction Level Event for those of you that don’t remember Deep Impact) meteor.
Yup, Earth is ravaged by both an extinction level plague and meteor all as a background tale for a set of races. Naturally it becomes a strongest-survives, winner-takes-cure-for-plague experience, with each racer having their own reasons for entering the race. I’m not going to explain any of them, as none of them are worth getting into, but if you’re interested, there is a whole story mode that kind of deals with them.
I say kind of because it really doesn’t do a good job of explaining anything. Each “story”, separated by character, starts with the same exposition, Lilith/Meteor/Yadda Yadda Yadda, and a short scene setting the stage for their particular conflict… beyond the race. The scenes continue after each race, of which there are about five, and then wrap with generally no resolution, only a screen that says it’s done, making you play the rest to find out what happens.
I’ll save you some time. Nothing happens. Ok, maybe something happens, I didn’t stick around for the conclusion of every single story. I would have had either the races or the characters been fun. But they weren’t.
The characters could have been. There is some really crazy art that depicts what they’re supposed to look like, and if the dialog had been as tongue-in-cheek as the art design, I think the whole game would have resonated better. Instead we’re left with a super serious story about a world on the brink of collapse, and racing for their very lives are a couple of starving underwear models, a kid who could have tried out for the role of Gau from Final Fantasy 6, and The Boob Band, staring Tits McGee, Chesty LaRue, and Indie McBoob.
You can’t possibly sell me on the importance and seriousness of the Race of Chaos and then prance out Lene in an outfit that can not, no matter the amount of time or skill of the surgeon, ever exist. I don’t mean to harp on this like a fat baby looking for his mid-day snack, but if you are going to take the art this far, you might as well just pop the corset and let the girls out to play. At least then I wouldn’t be theory-crafting just how in the hell she actually manages to steer her car without choking to death on her cleavage, or heaven forbid, twisting a nipple off during a drift. Though that would only matter if she managed a drift.
Racing in Fuel Overdose happens from a top down perspective, with the closet approximation I can make being R.C. Pro-am for the NES. Steering is done with the left stick, gas and brake R2/L2 respectively, and weapons are mapped to the face buttons. Well some of the weapons. The car’s main weapons, a pair of machine guns, a missile launcher, and a mine layer, are all controlled by the square button, with L1 cycling through them. Triangle controls the detonator of bombs that are placed throughout the map, and circle shoots out a grappling hook, that can either hook you to other racers, or attach to poles to help you corner better. Everything has a limit to how many times it can be used, and most also have a range restriction, with your car needing to be within a few yards of an intended target for them to function.
The weapons function like you’d imagine them to, with the bombs being the definite highlight of the group. Being limited to only certain points along the race track, the designers did a great job of putting them in some real pile-zones, allowing smart/quick drivers to damage a handful of the other cars at once. The grappling hooks are pretty great as well, especially with their charge ability that can complete disable an opposing driver, but they can also be a bit of a pain to use.
Each driver also has a set of special abilities, all performed with various twists and turns of the right stick. Some are helpful, most are not, and all take up valuable screen real estate, since the game throws your driver’s move list, whether available for use or not, on the left side of the screen.
All that being said, you’re almost better off ignoring the weapons, especially when driving itself is such a pain. It almost would be bearable, but Fuel Overdose comes standard with the worst possible racing camera imaginable. The top down view is more then enough to deal with by itself, but having it turn selectively with the track, thereby changing the direction you need to steer in, is unforgivable.
It’s the worst offense of many offenses, and it’s the one that broke my back. Had the races been fun to play, or even just alright, I probably would have put up with a lot more then I did. But that camera, oh that camera, just sucks the life and fun out of, well, out of something that was really lifeless to begin with.
Did I mention there was multiplayer? Or rather, that there might be multiplayer. You see every time I tried it, and this is over the course of a week, there were never any races to join. NONE. For all intents and purposes, there was no one online playing this. I think that alone speaks to the quality of the game and what it has to offer.
Graphically, the tracks are plain and muddy looking. There are around 5 different stage looks, ranging from jungle to tundra, and every single one of them is completely uninteresting. Combine this with multiple track layouts for each stage, and your recipe for a frustrating driving game is complete. When the only thing that stands out in your driving game are the tits of your character design, you’ve taken a wrong turn somewhere.
And that sums it up. Fuel Overdose is a game full of wrong turns. From art direction to gameplay, lacking story to lacking track design, it’s a game that never really finds its way to anything that even resembles mediocrity.