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May 18, 2005
Juiced - Preview
Release Date Publisher Developer Anticipation Players Price
17/6/2005THQJuice Games1-2, 6 $99.95


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Juiced certainly looks nice.
Never heard of Juice Games before? Not surprising really. The company is fairly new with their first game, Lamborghini, not getting a release (I believe due to licensing problems when another company bought the exclusive rights). Their history is strong with members of Juice Games coming from UK developers Rage when they shut down, and previous to that Digital Image Design (DID) which was among the best - if not the best - flight sim developers around the world with titles such as TFX, EF2000, and Total Air War to their credit. Juice Games' second title, Juiced also hit troubled waters, not during development, but with the closure of their publisher, Acclaim, only days before release. Fortunately THQ picked up the rights to the title but rather then release the game as it was have spent almost an entire year ensuring the game meets its full potential.

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An actual in-game screen.
Starting as a new kid on the block, with not even a set of wheels to your name, your aim is to build up your own crew of 'driving gods' and dominate the established street racing scene of Angel City. By showing off your modding and driving skills, you'll gain 'Respect' from the rival crew chiefs, and will soon be invited to their race events, challenge them to race 'for pinks' and bet against them for cash. As your notoriety grows, new drivers will ask to join your crew, opening up the never before seen 'crew races' where your skills at managing your drivers while you race are key to beating your rival crews.

The game alloes you to recruit and manage your own crew as well as betting against your rivals for cash. If you progress far enough you will even be able to create and host your own events by selecting the location, type of race, entry fees and prize money. Certainly an interesting aspect to the game which if successful could become standard.

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One of the setup screens.
It all seems pretty good on the story/setup side, but what about the features. Juiced includes over 50 real cars and 100 real-world mods giving well over 7.2 trillion different combinations (check out our special feature here for all the details). As for tracks, the developers have included 99 tracks set across 8 distinct environments from twisty city to fast ovals.

One of the good things that came out of the demise of Acclaim and the picking up of this title by THQ is the additional year it has spent in development. The first big change is the handling of the cars. The previous title was quite twitchy and lacked realism especially when hitting other cars, or the sides of the track. The handling of the cars is quite different between each of the styles be it front wheel drive or four wheel drive and so on. The mods really do make a difference to their performance. The game will also include damage to the cars for those of you interested - which should be everyone!

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Now that's some nice graphics.
Other enhancements to Juiced over the last year include improved opponent AI. Drivers will no longer stick to the driving line and will take evasive action to avoid collisions. The CPU controlled cars now drive faster along the straights but have been slowed around the corners - one of the issues from the old game.

In terms of presentation the Acclaim title looks far more polished and slicker then the old Acclaim version. The menu system has a very cool look to it, the entire music selection has been scrapped in favour of a different style (more details are promised soon), the frame rate has been improved on PS2 with new visual effects such as sparks, lighting, reflections and signs all being imrproved.

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One of the car mod screens.
Online gamers will be pleased to hear that Juiced features full online gameplay including 6 player races, multiple-modes and world leaderboards. Take your crew on-line, race for pinks and show-off your car collection. Since the move to THQ the developers have also added in sprint races to the online modes.

The final addition to this game is support for the Logitech Driving Force and Driving Force Pro steering wheels on PS2. I'm so glad that THQ have given Juice Games an extra 8 months or so to finish off Juiced. The demo I played just prior to the aborted original Acclaim release showed a game that needed some more polishing and some more grunt - something which THQ seem to have provided. Keep your eyes out for this game in a couple of weeks time.