When sitting down to play Juiced you have to keep a couple of things in mind. First of all with the demise of Acclaim the gameís release was pushed back as it was picked up by THQ. This means that when compared to other games in the genre like Need for Speed, Midnight Club and SRS itís a little behind the times. If the game was able to have been released back when it was originally planned for it may have felt fresher and more original, thus being a better experience.
To say Juiced gets inspiration from Fast and the Furious would be a huge understatement and many of the aspects of the game could have been ripped right from the movie. The street racing theme is a little overplayed these days and Juiced is has a full tank of it. The roads are filled with gangs of racers who speed through downtown in cars filled with nitro and glowing lights. While Juiced feels unimaginative thanks to its late start in the pack it does bring some new material to the table that may garner some attention from gamers.
There are many modes to try out with Juiced and each offer something different. So depending on what youíre looking for your experience will differ slightly. The most obvious mode here is the Career mode since this is where youíll be earning money, getting new cars and pimping out your rides. This is where you will spend the bulk of your time and is arguably the most playable mode out of all of them.
There are a few intricacies to the Career mode that make it a little different than other racers. One of these is the calendar event system that requires you to pick and choose events to your liking and what youíre capable of entering. As you win these events youíll earn the Respect of other drivers in the game and eventually they will join your crew. The Respect system here is very interesting and can lead to a great amount of success if used wisely.
Each race in Career mode gives you the ability to place a monetary bet on the outcome in order to expand your empire. You have to be very careful with what you bet and how much you spend on upgrading your ride because if you find yourself out of funds you wonít be able to race and will be forced into early retirement. There is also something called a Pink Slip event in which your car is put on the line against an opponentís. You better hope that you win in this case otherwise all that hard work you put into your ride will go up in smoke.
The biggest frustration with Career mode is that there is a lot of trial and error when trying to figure out what works best. The game doesnít do a very good job of explaining the fundamentals and you have to tread cautiously because the races and controls can be unpredictable at times. Cornering can be a treacherous endeavor with some tricky control mechanics and purely evil turns on the track. Thanks to this youíll probably go through a couple of careers before you get everything jiving in your favor.
If you get tired of the Career mode you can hop into the Arcade mode and just race to your hearts content. This is pretty much your standard mode of this type with a pre-selection of cars at your disposal and nothing to really put on the line. There are also a few different even types to spruce things up from circuit races to point-to-point and even a show off mode. I didnít particularly care for the show off events but they are interestingly focused on tricks and special maneuvers instead of simply racing around a track.
The other main draw here is obviously the multiplayer which also features online access for broadband subscribers. Most of the fundamentals from the offline modes are carried over here and you can even race for money and pink slips to help out your career. Since the game has been out since June the only people I encountered online were the true diehards. I may have been going on at odd times but I didnít find much of a community to race against though if you have a buddy with the game you should be golden.
In the end the gameplay here is nothing all that groundbreaking and in fact it has a very ďbeen there, done thatĒ feel to it. The pink slips and respect system add something to the game that other games donít have but the execution of everything leaves a bit to be desired. Fans of stuff like Fast and the Furious may get a kick out of it more than your average Joe but in all honesty the fact that Juiced was pushed back from itís original release date really is the biggest hurdle it faces.
While the gameplay may be a little behind the times compared to fellow racers in the genre, the graphics are easily up to par. The customizable cars all look great with some real attention to detail. Tinkering with the way a car looks can be very rewarding once you see it in motion on the track and environment. The sense of speed here is also very good with a nice blurring technique that makes the world whiz by as you tear through downtown. The only real problems with the look of the game are some repetitive tracks that really make it difficult to distinguish the differences of one race to the next.
The sound department in Juiced is kind of a mixed bag of quality with a decent selection of tunes but repetitive sound effects and voiceovers. The soundtrack is filled with hip-hop and the like as youíd expect with a street racer and all of the engines sound pretty much the same. The voice work that is here is decent enough but it feels a little wooden at times and the volume needed better balance between effects and music.
Juiced isnít an all together bad game mind you, itís just that it was a little late to the start of the race. Other games have done this theme already and done it better but even so this isnít a bad addition to the already flooded genre. Fans of this style of game will definitely want to take it for a spin but those of you who arenít hardcore about it can just leave this one on the shelf. Some nice graphics and decent sound help out the package and the fresh ideas the game brings to the table are interesting enough. Maybe if there is a Juiced 2 things will look and feel a little more up to date with this series. Rent It