Artistically, the menus and character designs are high-gloss Anime style with simplistic but easily identifiable characters. The in-game action is an over-head view rendered using cel-shading. The individual cars look pretty decent for a budget title and the sound effects aren't skimped on. The tracks themselves are where the visuals start to fall-apart – the textures of the maps certainly aren't particularly impressive.
The AI is designed to keep the pack pretty close to each other so most races degrade into a near constant fur-ball of jockeying for position. Hits by enemy attacks will send you out of control rather quickly; so most of the driving degrades just into trying to keep your car aimed in the right direction on the course. This wouldn't be so hard if most of the vehicles didn't handle like a go-cart on ice.
I found myself struggling to maintain even the most basic of lines on a straightaway, so you can imagine the typical mess of cars that can be found in the early turns of a race with 6 out of the 8 racers in the wall. The different weapons available make for some different approaches for you; mines will get people off your tailpipe; machine guns will cause an opponent to lose his line; rockets will take a big chunk of health from an enemy; but the highlight is easily the grappling hook which can be used to fishtail an opponent or just make a tighter turn.
The overhead camera will drive you nuts – it forces a perspective change on you whenever it rotates. For example: camera is behind you, you make a forced right turn while grinding with an opponent between you and the wall… now the camera decides to not shift yet… your controls now force you to push up to turn left… while you are keeping pressure with the now switched controls… WHOOPS time for another camera shift. It's the kind of game-play handicap that you sort of learn to adapt to… much like the loss of a limb… sure you'll get used to dealing with it but that doesn't mean you'll learn to like the situation any.
The competitive AI feels 4 consoles ago… you'll have enemies that you've lapped decide to attack relentlessly like they are jockeying for first place… or enemies that just seem to give up for no particular reason. Not that I generally had too much of a hard time wailing on the opposition, more often than not losses could be attributed to outside factors rather than the competition.
Most people will find the initial investment required in this game to be the biggest drawback – the initial 2 cars that you get are… just plain awful. I'm pretty sure that nobody was driving a Geo Metro in DeathRace but for some reason you'll get to until you've accrued enough money to unlock a slightly less pathetic ride. The required race repetition in order to get any of the better upgrades or better vehicles is a big slog right out of the gate for this game.
All in all, Fuel Overdose has a ton of replay value for those willing to look past its warts, especially for the price point.
- Neat little throwback racing combat game for $10.
- The variety of weapons is pretty darn neat
- Handling while on the road is a real challenge
- The camera system is AWFUL
- Unlockable item progression is painfully slow
Score: 5.0 / 10