%HTMLlat1; %HTMLsymbol; %HTMLspecial; ]> FUEL Demo
Roland van Ipen­burg
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FUEL Demo

Satur­day 1 Au­gust 2009 11:45

It's tricky. It's non-claus­tro­fo­bic Mo­torstorm. But I don't think they can pull it off. The point of race tracks is that they are tuned to be bal­anced. There are al­ways cer­tain points that have been changed to make the track eas­i­er or hard­er at that point. Rocks or oth­er ob­sta­cles you have to avoid to get a good lap time and the place­ment of those points is cru­cial. Then the game is about find­ing out those points and get­ting the skills to han­dle them. But FUEL doesn't seem to have tracks with that mech­a­nism. It's big and while the graph­ic de­tail is all there, the phys­i­cal de­tail isn't. There are no small rocks to avoid, just larg­er struc­tures. So it feels more like any open world than some­thing fit for a race game. It's spread out large, but thin, so big­ger isn't bet­ter.

As an open world it's great. The first thing that came up in my mind was "Why am I not in an In­ter­cep­tor?". It cap­tures the vast­ness. But just like Lib­er­ty City, it's not what it looks like. I haven't fig­ured out what the trick is, but there is a dis­crep­an­cy be­tween how big it looks and feels and how big it is. You can dri­ve up to the top of a hill and look to­wards the hori­zon. But when you dri­ve to some point in the dis­tance you'll be there pret­ty fast, even if you're not mov­ing very fast. Real­i­ty is much big­ger. In GTA IV that's not an is­sue be­cause it's not a race game, and they have avoid­ed men­tion­ing dis­tances and ve­loc­i­ties, but for a race game it prob­a­bly doesn't add up. The oth­er is­sue is that there have to be rec­og­niz­able items in the map so you know where you are, and that doesn't work if every tree, truck and farm looks the same.

But what I miss the most in a world like that is a char­ac­ter and a sto­ry, which could be as flim­sy as DJ Atom­i­ca type sto­ry­telling. Just like in Mo­torstorm it's some sur­re­al world where for some rea­son in­sane­ly big race stuff is go­ing on. Th­ese games may hint at Burn­ing Man, Mad Max and events like Bon­neville Speed­week, but fail to re­al­ly con­nect. Their worlds are emp­ty and mean­ing­less.

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