Fuel Overdose isn’t the next Micro Machines, that game was actually good
Back in the early 90′s one of the games I remember most vividly were the Micro Machines games, I recall the cartridge itself had two extra controller ports for some multi-player mayhem. Since then the “RC” racing genre has died off and the last game I remember enjoying was Circuit Breakers on the original PlayStation. Fuel Overdose seems like the perfect comeback for these types of games but sadly all it does is make sure that the genre stays dead.
Fuel Overdose sounds pretty good on paper, a small digital download “RC” racer that picks up where Micro Machines left off but part of making an enjoyable game is making sure you can execute on ideas. There’s nothing useful about having a list of ideas and concepts if you don’t have anyone to turn those into reality. Sadly Fuel Overdose is just that, a collection of solid ideas and nothing more.
Upon booting up the game you’re greeted by a loading screen, then an intro you’ll want to skip which is followed by yet another loading screen until you finally reach a generic looking main menu. The usual list of modes and features you would expect from a racing game make an appearance such as a free/quick race, championship and multi-player which is limited to online play only. The two more unique options are story and challenge.
Story mode is every bit as terrible as you would think, it’s entirely forgettable and something that I can’t imagine anyone seeing through to the end let alone the half way point. I picked my character Lene who is basically the one with bending over with her boobs sticking out and my first race consisted of a little girl sabotaging my vehicle so the weapons wouldn’t work during the race. I brushed it off and completed the second race, then the little girl returned to sabotage my ride yet again and it’s at this point you start to wonder if the developers forgot that games are supposed to be enjoyable.
The story itself is told via some jpeg images and some text, there’s no voice acting here and no real animation to speak off. I have no idea if the story mode was supposed to be the main mode of Fuel Overdose or simply an extra but either way it’s something that the game could of done without. Challenge mode fairs up better as you’re tasked with completing various missions such as winning a race without using any weapons.
Speaking of weapons, you’ll find plenty in Fuel Overdose to the point where you have to use the right analog stick to activate some of them. The three basic weapons in the game are a machine gun, rocket launcher and some mines, the left shoulder button switches between the three. Each is also limited in ammo supply meaning during the heat of a race you have to keep in mind which weapon you have highlighted and the ammo count for each which is rather distracting. In addition to these the game also features some kind of Street Fighter style “Super Bar” which fills up during the race. It’s broken in three levels though I don’t recall ever reaching level three before a race ended.
Sounds great but here’s the problem, activating these special attacks requires the right analog stick to be rotated in various ways. Every character in the game has a different set of special attacks so no way you’re going to remember all of them, there’s a command list on screen at all times which is helpful yet also clutters up the screen. As if that wasn’t enough you also have a grappling hook which is the best idea this game has going for it. The grappling hook enables you to latch on to other racers or even poles around bends to help maintain your speed. At first you’ll struggle to make it work, soon you’ll figure out that it’s not so much a learning curve to overcome but rather it just isn’t very well designed. Instead of racing around bends without losing speed thanks to the grapple I normally ended up making awkward looking 90° turns, it’s extremely clunky.
There’s a great tutorial mode in Fuel Overdose which explains everything you’ll need to know, no seriously it’s really well done and makes sure you try out things before moving on. The problem is that Fuel Overdose is that it often feels like weapon overdose, I can’t help but think these types of games are supposed to be easy pick up and play experiences yet I had to play through the tutorial twice just to pick up on everything. Once you’ve studied the game surely you’ll be rocking in no time right?
Wrong, you spend entire races just hoping that no one attacks you. This is one of the most frustrating games I’ve played all year, it’s the type that enrages the player. It appears that every attack in the game leaves you facing the wrong way, even simple machine gun attacks leaves your vehicle doing a 180°. Whenever you fall off a stage or get blown up you’re dropped back into the race but holding down the accelerator to get going right away does not work in Fuel Overdose, instead you have to wait until your wheels hit the floor before the game even notices it. It’s not like Mario Kart where you need to time it just right, the game straight up does not even acknowledge the accelerator is pressed.
The idea behind Fuel Overdose is that hopefully all these different weapons make for a game that has a heavy emphases on tactics. None of it every works as it’s supposed to, remember the special attacks I mentioned earlier in the game. Well I have no idea what those do, sometimes the screen goes pink and I see a portrait of a character appear but I don’t know what even happened. I’ve shot out rockets that for some reason ended up hitting me instead, yes it’s possible to basically shoot yourself with your own weapon. The weapons in Fuel Overdose are actually it’s biggest weakness, the game would actually be more enjoyable without them.
Assuming one does actually attempt to suck some fun out of Fuel Overdose there’s a vehicle upgrading system in place which is commendable. Winning races gives you an in game currency of “CC” which can be used to upgrade your vehicle. The better the stats of your vehicle the more fun the game or should I say less frustrating the game is but by then then Fuel Overdose has already worn out it’s welcome.
In Fuel Overdose the action is viewed from a bird’s eye view which featuring a dynamic camera that twists and turns in order to give you the best view of the action. The camera mostly works though at times some of the changes it makes will catch you off guard, the arrows displayed on the track do help guide you around the tracks. The CPU however appears to be struggling more than I am, there is one stage in a desert environment that contains a sharp turn. I’ve not seen the CPU successfully make that turn yet meaning they always go flying right off the track. Oddly enough this is some of the most fun to be had with Fuel Overdose, watching the CPU fall to their death much like they did in F-Zero X’s randomly generated tracks.
There’s nothing wrong with having a bad looking title so long as the performance never affects the game but that isn’t the case with Fuel Overdose. The frame rate in the game is trash, not only is it constantly choppy it also stutters badly whenever the action heats up. I’m not joking when I tell you the game suffers from half a second pauses which may not sound like much but boy do you feel it when you play the game. The rest of the game’s look is confusing, the tracks take on a fairly realistic approach yet the characters are all anime inspired meaning I have no clue what style the game is going for. To accompany the visuals there’s some forgettable music, to be honest I didn’t even notice the music until I was writing this review so I can’t even tell you much about that.
Fuel Overdose is a game I wanted to like, if done right it’s exactly what I would love to see as a digital download but the game basically gets everything wrong. You may look at the score and think it’s rather harsh but truth be told I can’t actually remember having any fun with this game at all, I enjoyed pressing triangle to set off some bombs on the track as other racers got near them but that’s about it. There’s an online multi-player component but the silly thing either does not work or no one in the world is playing this game, I sincerely hope it’s the latter.