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August 18, 2005
Juiced - Review
Release Date Distributor Developer Players Rating Difficulty
17/6/2005THQJuice Games1-2, 6 PGMedium
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Sliding around the corners.
If you've been paying even the slightest bit of attention to the gaming industry you'd have noticed Acclaim folding last year, leaving one of its more anticipated titles, Juiced, hanging up in the air. Rather than let it float around for too long, THQ snapped it up in the wake of the street-racing car tuning bandwagon brought around by movies like The Fast and The Furious and have finally brought it to our shores. However, the wait has been significantly long for this long-delayed title which was originally due out last year, a date which many rev-heads like myself were looking forward to. So has the time in transition from Acclaim to THQ benefited Juiced like a fine wine, or rather let it stagnate and rot like the 80s? Letís find out...

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Look, it's a Supra... duh!
Once upon a time, cars were simple things. Four wheels, a steering wheel, a couple of seats, and possibly an engine to make the whole thing go. These days, bells and whistles like extractors, nitrous oxide, limited-slip differentials, blow-off valves and bent mandrel exhausts have almost become household terms. Well, among the rev-head gamers at least. While Juiced may at first appear as just Ďanotherí racing game with ricer car modifications, it may surprise many folk that it offers an RPG-like element with crew-based careers. At the beginning of Juiced youíll find yourself landed on the streets with a wad of cash and zero respect; itís your job to turn the cash into cars, and the zero to hero.

There are two major game modes of note in Juiced, the arcade and career modes. Arcade mode as one would expect, is your standard run-of-the-mill pick up and play scenario which lets you run a cut down version of cars and tracks (which further unlock as you progress in the career mode). Now the arcade content of Juiced would have been fine by itselfÖ two years ago. Today however, it has been superceded by many better games, such as the Need for Speed Underground titles, Midnight Club 3: Dub Edition, and even Burnout 3 to a certain extent. The game looks and feels quite old, and especially when coming off a prolonged Gran Turismo 4 bender this is furthermore exaggerated.

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Hitting the side.
So while the general feel of the game is somewhat short of the mark, Juicedís career mode offers something thatís a little outside of the square. Rather than facing the prospect of being a lonely one-man racer, you get to race in a crew against other racers. These crews are more than just extra AI drivers however; during races, orders can be given to fellow crew members to change their driving style to suit the current situation. Thanks to an in-game mobile phone (and a not-so-subtle ad for Nokia too, mind you), you also have the ability to contact members from rival crews who you've impressed on their home turf. Build up enough respect with rival crews, and you'll eventually be able to head-hunt them to make your crew the one to beat.

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Modding the cars.
SoÖ youíve got crews, customizable cars, respect, money, parts, paintjobs, pink slips and more. Surely Juiced has enough to make it stand out from the crowd? Iím afraid not. Juiced is a game that looks, feels, plays and sounds like one thatís missed the boat. Itís just not Ďfuní to play; the engine is loose around the edges and attempts to mash arcade and simulation into a Need for Speed Underground wannabe. What eventuates however is like throwing a tub of lard and an iced coffee in a blender; it initially looks like a smooth mix, but give it some time and it separates out into a slimy mess. The racing feels like it wants to be an arcade racer, but at the last minute slaps you in the face with some lame excuse for realism; like the in-game messages on screen telling you to brake and slow down constantly. You can be driving Miss Daisy in last position, sticking to local law enforcement road rules, and youíll still see the message pop upÖ I mean, itís a RACING game dammit!

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Solid but not spectacluar graphics.
Graphically Juiced isn't too special; while the car models are nice and sharp, they tend to look out of place in the washed-out and sparse racing environments. Juicedís solid frame rate is always a good thing for a racing game, however one thing that wasnít are the screen 'warps' when using Nitrous Oxide. The Burnout series have shown how to implement a nice mind-numbing speed effect, but Juicedís comes up as more of a blurred screen stretching rather than adding any extra sense of speed. To cut a long rant short, it's one of the many graphical 'touches' of the game that have a far lesser effect than the developers had intended.

One of the areas where Juiced seems to have shown some glory and taken a page from Need for Speed Undergroundís book is the in-game audio. Licensed tracks are plentiful here, with not only your typical street-racing gangsta rap by Xzibit and others, but with dance music by bands including Roni Size and Paul Oakenfold. I love my dance and techno, and itís great to see artists like this in a non-Wipeout title. However while the music is impressive, the effects are a little bit of a mixed bag. For instance, there are some throaty tire squeal noises that are let down by chainsaw-powered cars, and aluminum can collisions; but hey, with the music turned up whoís going to notice?

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Adding a turbo system.
Iím quite sad to give Juiced such a non-loving review, because I was looking forward to it many moons ago when the first screens were released. I mean, I splashed out on a Driving Force Pro for Juiced just as much as for GT4, yet I may as well have been using a Fisher Price learn-to-drive kiddy wheel for the same experience I had with Juiced. This game doesnít make too many mistakes as such, it just falls short of the bar in so many areas and most aspects have been done much better in games that are many months old. Acclaimís downfall last year probably has a lot to blame here, but at the same time THQ bought Juiced at whatever development stage it was at knowing what had to be done to make it stand outÖ which it doesnít. Will THQ release an improved Juiced 2 down the track? I sincerely hope so, if only just to make up for the dashed hopes that I among many others had for Juiced.

Review By: Dave Warner

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GRAPHICSNice cars dropped in a not so nice race environment.
SOUNDPaul Oakenfold always earns bonus points with me!
GAMEPLAYCareer mode is a nice idea, but let down by the gameplay.
VALUEIt takes a while to finish, pink slips mean it can all be over in moments.
OVERALLJuiced is that little engine that thought-he-could, but halfway up to the top of the hill went to the pub for a beer and came back a whole year later. The result is something which would have been great a year ago, but now is old and stumbles over its own feet. Hire it if you must, but other games do this much, much better.

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