Review: Fuel Overdose (PSN)

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Title: Fuel Overdose
Format: PlayStation Network Download (236 MB)
Release Date: December 21, 2012 (EU) / March 5, 2013 (US)
Publisher: i-Friqiya
Developer: i-Friqiya
Price: £9.69 (UK) / 11.99 (EU) / $9.99 (US)
ESRB Rating: T
Fuel Overdose is also available on PC.
The PlayStation Network version was used for this review.

The PSN has developed a reputation for being a platform that houses creative ideas from small development teams. Fuel Overdose, a title firmly in this mold, is the latest addition to the network; a unique top-down racer with a huge emphasis on combat. Does this fun new take on the genre live up to the potential though? Let’s find out…

Gameplay:
This is a weapons-racer where crossing the finish line quickly is definitely not your primary concern. It’s the number of cars you blow up on the way that’s important. Using a combination of machine gun, rocket launcher and mines, you’ll soon find the combat takes prominence – and the game feels far more satisfying for it. Finishing first in a race always feels deserved thanks to the adversity (i.e. seven other people shooting you) being overcome.

1

During each race there’s a whole lot to think about, which ramps up both the tension and difficulty. Utilising roadside objects such as bombs and grappling hooks can prove the key to disrupting your opponents and speeding round respectively. That’s the last of your worries though, as you’ll also be concerned about your damage level, what position you’re in, how much ammo you have remaining and much more – including the objective of the race.

This is because as well as just throwing in a few different modes, i-Friqiya have ensured the game stays fresh by including a range of race types. First over the line, points totals, survival without weapons and last man standing are just a few examples. These then make up the modes on offer – free race, championship, story, challenge and multiplayer. Thankfully there’s also a comprehensive tutorial, which means the controls never feel too complicated and the gameplay, though hectic, is never confusing. To say this game has an unbelievable amount of depth for a PSN title, is an understatement.

Ease of control is determined by the calibre of vehicle you’ve unlocked, which got me past what I thought to be a pretty loose racing mechanic at first. I’d say that the both the range and damage levels of your weaponry is perfect, along with the reload time to prevent the game from becoming too explosion-heavy. Also, the frequency of character special moves is balanced, whilst the track lengths are just about long enough. This all comes together to make action-packed short bursts of gameplay which I was thoroughly impressed with. One improvement I’d make is the ability to have only one life in all race types. I felt that the last man standing mode gave much more credence to both the protection of your car and your ability to accurately and efficiently damage others.

A couple of problems are evident throughout the game. The camera is occasionally annoying and takes you out of your flow completely – I would have much preferred options similar to Motorstorm RC where you can choose how you’d like the camera to trail. Furthermore, the load times are wearying and a real drag at times. Another issue is some slight bugs during the game, such as opposing cars seemingly resetting into random positions on-screen; though admittedly, these occurrences are few and far between.

2

Overall, Fuel Overdose is an excellent PSN title that brings your quick decision-making ability to the fore. With so much going on at all times, you have to constantly judge what move (whether to benefit yourself or disrupt others) to make while weighing up the risk-reward. The usual problem with these small downloadable games of being repetitive has been completely avoided by i-Friqiya, who should be commended for creating a deep experience that always feels fresh due to the frantic nature of the gameplay. Creating this game feels like it was a labour of love from the dev team. A labour of destructive, explosive, anarchic love.

Visuals:
The style of Fuel Overdose is overtly Japanese, which works well. The characters are distinct and memorable, all with their own unique style. They even have their own individual narratives in the story mode, which is a nice touch, though not so good that they’re integral to the game. There are no flashy cut-scenes (which is to be expected) but at least the studio have made an effort by having some colourful images to accompany the text-based story-telling.

In-game, the environments look very good, with a nice varied range of tracks. A few cool effects have been added, such as the area around your car becoming pixelated for a second when you crash. No complaints can be had inside the races; it does the job well for a PSN title, with no texture pop-in or lack of sharpness. The menus however are uninspired, which is a shame when you spend quite a bit of time there switching between modes and races.

3

Audio:
Surprisingly for a small downloadable game, the audio is actually passable. Usually you’d expect the sound in this kind of title to be monumentally grating, but i-Friqiya have included a variation of music and some distinct sound effects. Overall the audio is average and neither adds to nor detracts from the game experience – nothing is particularly great, nothing is ear-bleedingly poor.

Online/Multiplayer:
What will make or break the online portion of Fuel Overdose, is whether it can attract and sustain a good number of players. The actual experience is pretty solid though and generally lag-free. Aside from a couple of hiccups in a single race, it was extremely smooth throughout, which I was very impressed with. I enjoyed the gameplay a lot – it was even more chaotic than playing against the AI, which made for exciting matches every time.

At first, it’s brutal due to not having purchased good enough cars, but cash is built up at a steady rate with each match, so there’s a gradual sense of progression even when you’re towards the rear of the grid. Just as with the offline modes, there are 8 players per race, with any empty slots filled up with bots. The lobby and match setup systems are functional rather than glamorous, with a messaging tool and host options for number of races and types. All in all, Fuel Overdose is a crazily fun multiplayer title that, if it develops a following, will quickly become one of the ‘go-to’ games on your hard drive.

4

Conclusion:
For a cheap PSN title, Fuel Overdose has surprisingly significant longevity. Credit has to go to the development team who have constructed a fun and addictive game, that provides depth through the variety of race types and modes – as well as the personality of its characters, locations and general gameplay. The game defines the term ‘easy to pick up, hard to master’ and provides a constant challenge that most modern games lack; on the whole outweighing the minor problems that are present. If this builds up a strong community, Fuel Overdose could well be the big online racer of 2013.

Score:
8.0

Written by Raj Mahil

Raj Mahil

Journalism & Marketing student in London. Huge gaming fan and collector, with a slight fanboy bias towards PS. Life revolves around football/soccer (The Arsenal), but also love most other sport, especially the NBA and NHL.

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