Electronic Theatre In-depth Review: Juiced

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Rating: 5.0/5 (2 votes cast)

Electronic Theatre ImageMany of you who are regulars at Electronic Theatre will have built a relationship with the elusive Juiced long before its arrival. Having witnessed the work throughout several trade events, a change in hands at publisher level, PR meetings, preview code and through a whole host of demo discs, Juiced has finally arrived in the UK, bringing with it many promises for the UK racing faithful.

            After the title’s ever-increasing spin in development hell, quite a lot is expected of Juiced. With Acclaim touting the title as their saving grace (and eventually missing the mark) THQ have grabbed Electronic Theatre Imagethe licence and ran with it. High-octane racing, XboxLIVE! mayhem and a totally smooth approach place Juiced in the league for “coolest-game-of-the-year”. However, as we’ve seen before, “cool” doesn’t always mean “good”.

                        Juiced features the standard Arcade mode as in most racing games, which sees you racing through a variety of tracks, proceeding to the next with each successful finish. The two-player feature on a single system is fun, yet suffers from a little slow-down and untidy visuals. It’s the Career mode where things really heat up in Juiced. Having to begin with a relatively small amount of cash and no vehicles, it’s up to you to work your way through the calendar, competing in events to win races, money and earn respect. Every event has Electronic Theatre Imageconditions, such as specific Car Classes and entrance fees, however your cars can be tweaked and tuned in order to boost performance – each “mod” has three levels of quality available plus a prototype model – and further cars can be bought and tuned appropriately. Winning races will not only earn you cash and respect from the AI competition – subsequently allowing you to race for their cars or the right to host races on their territory – but also encourage additional AI drivers to join your Crew – giving you the option to relax and direct the action.

            The races handle at a very nice pace – on par with BurnOut 3: Takedown with the exception of some minor frame-rate drops when swinging round corners at high-speed. The tracks boast a nice variety as well as the differing race types – Lap, Point-to-Point, Sprint and Show-Off (pull tricks and drive at high-speeds to earn some Electronic Theatre Imageeasy respect). With acceleration on the R Trigger and braking opposing on the L Trigger, the cornering certainly takes some getting used to and falls in-line with the squeezing-esque control seen in the under-appreciated Wave Race: Blue Storm. When utilising your AI Crew Members to race you have the ability to control their racing aggression level. Not exactly as extensive as the Racing Director seen in Gran Turismo 4, you can select from low, medium or high with the text changing from yellow to dark orange as they loose their cool. The more races you enter your Crew into, the more experience they get and the better than can cope under pressure – so throughout the many occasions when you will find yourself with a selection of fully modded cars, but Electronic Theatre Imageno money remaining it becomes an inherent ability to enter a fully-experienced AI member and earn a little easy cash.

            Taking your career onto XboxLIVE! allows you to compete with human players in the some way as AI opponents – racing for “Pink Slips” (the ownership of their car), money or honour. There is little lag evident and finding challengers rarely seems to be a chore.

            Graphically, Juiced offers no less than any of the competition. The cars shimmer and glisten in the sun and rain and the backdrops are impressively expansive and well modelled – putting Need For Speed Underground 2 to shame. The minor of quibbles would be the damage your cars can endure. The in-race damage, visually at least, is very limited – with only minor denting and “wobbly bits” – whilst, upon exiting the race you may have upwards of £2000 worth of damage!Electronic Theatre Image

            THQ have managed a resounding “hmmm… it’s OK” with the soundtrack for Juiced. Drifting between the averagely pop-indie-esque tunes such as Kasabian through to pop-rock and pop-dance, there’s little room before Custom Soundtracks become order of the day. The speech-samples are pitch-perfect and appear in abundance, and the crash effects are pleasing.

            Juiced has graced the shelves of retail stores after much will-it-won’t-it appraisal and has bought with some high-hopes. Those hoping for the out-and-out Boy-Racer appeal of Need For Speed Underground 2 maybe a little disappointed, however those who feel their racing skills are better honed on the Xbox than the road will not be disappointed. Easy enough for the beginner to grab yet deep enough to satisfy most of the car enthusiasts, Juiced has rewarded patience with a playable offering that may not reach the dizzy heights of BurnOut, but certainly puts competing Need For Speed and SRS franchises in their place – at the back of the pack.

 

 

 

 

 

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