Preview: FUEL's Massively Open Racing
UK game studio Codemasters are perhaps best known for their work on the Colin McRae series of rally racing games. And rightly so: up until Colin’s untimely death last year, the franchise set the standard for exciting and realistic rally racing. The series culminated in 2007 with DiRT, a next-generation powerhouse that sadly went unnoticed by many gamers. The highlight of DiRT was its awesome damage simulation which, when combined with a solid physics model and some incredible next-gen graphics, set the bar for off-road racing games in the current generation.
Not ones to back down from a challenge, Codemasters have eagerly stepped up to the task of besting their previous effort. The company recently announced that they will be partnering with Asobo Studios to publish a massive open-world racer called FUEL. Many recent games, from Burnout Paradise to Midnight Club LA have laid claim to featuring “open world” gameplay. But what sets FUEL apart from the pack is that it really, truly, is open. The game features more than 14,000 square kilometers of terrain on which players can drive, consisting of everything from burned out cityscapes to treacherous mountain ridges to wide-open deserts.
The other intriguing thing about FUEL is that it takes the standard current-day setting of most racers and gives it a sci-fi twist. The game is set in the vast expanse of the Western United States, some fifty years in the future when global warming has ravaged the earth and produced a dangerous landscape of freaky weather patterns. So, in addition to worrying about the action on the road in front of them, players will have to contend with whatever comes from above – be it a deadly sandstorm or a lifelike tornado.
We aren’t quite sure yet how the developers will make racing work in an imaginative landscape that sounds better suited to just about any other genre of game (a global warming farming sim? Bring it on!). On the other hand, the prospect of outrunning a tornado in a mad-max style dune buggy has us curious enough to keep our eyes on this promising title. FUEL is currently in development at Asobo Studios in Bordeaux, France, for the PS3, Xbox 360 and PC, with a planned release some time in 2009.
• Motorcycles and four-wheeled vehicles race in a massively diverse environment inspired by the most challenging real areas of the American wilderness. Over 5,000 square miles of wildly different terrain from deep snow to arid river-beds, battle the elements and pull off spectacular stunts in epic world on an unprecedented scale.
• With a jaw-dropping draw distance of 40KM, there’s never been a world so large to explore or so many striking vistas to discover. The entire game world is available for players to explore in free-roam and provides a challenging, compelling environment for FUEL’s stunning race events.
• Dramatic, dynamic extreme weather: Set in an environmentally damaged fictional future, the game world is further brought to life with real-time extreme weather that includes blizzards, lashing rainstorms, lightening strikes, sandstorms and tornados that transform the terrain and affect vehicle performance creating a unique race experience.
• With a huge range of vehicles, player choice lies at the heart of FUEL’s action-packed races as players speed across huge swathes of diverse terrain, carving out on-the-fly routes to take the chequered flag. Roadsters reach extraordinary speeds on the asphalt, monster trucks steam-roller through forests and dirt-bikes scramble down mountainsides as gamers take on dangerous short-cuts, death-defying jumps and clatter through spectacular cross-over points in a beautiful wilderness.
• Online multiplayer: The online and offline worlds become one with a fully-integrated multiplayer featuring hundreds of preset challenges and countless locations where friends or strangers can meet to show off their skills and their customized rides or set out to explore the world together.
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