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Juiced 2: Hot Import Nights

For: DS   Also on: Mobile, PSP

Plenty taxing

Product: Juiced 2: Hot Import Nights | Developer: THQ | Publisher: THQ | Format: DS | Genre: Racing | Players: 1-4 | Networking: wireless (adhoc) | Version: Europe
Juiced 2: Hot Import Nights DS, thumbnail 1
How times change. Back in the day, car modding consisted of removing the roof rack and adding a couple of go-faster stripes to the flanks of your Capri. Now every surface, nut, bolt and flange can be expensively customised until it conforms to your personal taste.

The result is it's almost impossible to walk down a Home Counties' high street on a Friday night without dodging bright yellow Corsa lowriders or hearing the unmistakable sound of big woofers bombing from the back of a souped up Focus. Tim Westwood has much to answer for. Holler indeed.

But these are the mean streets on which Juiced 2 burns its rubber.

What about the original Juiced, you might be asking at this stage? Well, it was a million-seller on home consoles but never made it over to DS. This time around, publisher THQ has spent bigger and affiliated the game with US street racing and tuning brand Hot Import Nights – imagine the offspring of MTV and a brothel.

So whether you're into drifting, racing, tuning, or showing off your shiny new Davin Spinners to boys who should know better and girls who don't know the meaning of the word 'knee-length', let alone 'coat', this is the place for you.

Of course, behind the glossiness of the ladyeez and the paintwork, what's most important about Juiced 2 is its racer credentials, and it doesn't disappoint.

Noticeably, the sensation of speed is well conveyed during races and the wide tracks give you the scope to drift and skid around corners with a great deal of energy. Vehicle handling remains basic but the ability to powerslide gives Juiced 2 something of a Mario Kart-esque level of depth, which in turn, is combined with the equivalent pleasure when you perfectly execute a turn.

Indeed, there's a positively arcade feel to the entire experience. The courses are relatively short, being between three to five laps roughly based in real-world locations such as London, San Francisco and Rome. With a refreshing simplicity, all have clearly been designed with the DS in mind.

And this easy dynamism radiates throughout the game. It arrives most abundantly when you hit the nitrous button to take a speed boost into a corner. In other DS racing games – notably Need For Speed Carbon: Own the City – such a move would propel you into a barrier in a blur of pixels, but Juiced 2 pitches the acceleration just right, enabling you to use nitrous judiciously even through the bends.

There's also great fun to be had from tailgating a rival and 'spooking' them into a mistake. Stay in their slipstream for a short period and a spook meter will fill up until they lose their nerve and pitch satisfyingly off the road.

Juiced 2 provides a nice surprise in terms of game structure, too. There are the standard Challenge and ad-hoc multiplayer modes as well as a ten-league Career option that takes you from Rookie to HIN Elite, plus a couple of race types within each mode, including Drift, Eliminator, Relay, Time Trial and Tournament. But while the last four are variations on a theme, it's the Drift discipline that really shines.

Drifting is one of those skills that's easy to learn but hard to master. As the name implies, the idea is to keep your car powered around several corners, side on – something highlighted by the Ridge Racer series. Entering a corner at speed, the goal is to turn sharply, allowing your back tyres to slip and enabling the car to slide – the more outrageous the angle you can maintain, the more points you'll accumulate.

And to be honest, this is one of the game's greatest pleasures as well as challenges as it requires a combination of experience and intuition to change direction at the precise moment for the next (often blind) corner. If you're really good, it's even possible to notch up drift multipliers by switching direction for subsequent corners and thereby linking drifts together.

But back to the bling.

As you would expect, Juice 2 offers an impressive number of tuning and modding options. Along with numerous decals, paint, trims and nitro enhancements, you can also boost engine and vehicle performance by spending your points. But while more colourful and comprehensive than similar DS racing titles, it's hard to get overly excited about sprucing up a car that simply doesn't look that thrilling in-game due to the hardware's relatively poor graphics capabilities.

The car inclusions remain impressive, though, with marques from the likes of BMW, Audi, Dodge, Ford, GM, Honda, Lotus, Hyundai, Mitsubishi, Renault, Subaru, Lexus, Toyota and TVR. It's a broad selection and most players will obviously gain enjoyment converting a boring saloon car into something more potent.

Still, we're not about to suggest Juiced 2 is groundbreaking or innovative, but what it does, it does very well. Think of it as a well kitted out Impreza – no longer a surprise or sense of awe when you see one, but always a welcome sight.
Juiced 2: Hot Import Nights
Reviewer photo
Mark Walbank | 9 October 2007
Thanks to solid arcade handling, Juice 2 offers a well-honed driving experience that's enhanced with plenty of customisation options
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