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For: Mobile

Does this street racer offer a refreshing change of pace or will it be pipped to the post?

Product: Juiced | Publisher: THQ Wireless | Format: Mobile | Genre: Hardcore, Racing | Players: 1 | File size: 142 Kb | Reviewed on: V800 other handsets | Version: Europe
Juiced Mobile, thumbnail 1
Picture the scene, it's a hot summer night and the setting sun casts sheen across the barren road ahead. You however are the epitome of cool, lounging in your bucket seat, clutching the throbbing wheel of your shiny souped-up racer. You rev the recently upgraded engine and staring menacingly across at your competitor who's even shinier, more souped up vehicle could be yours if you can beat him to the finish line. Suddenly the assembled throng quieten down and pull-back from the streets. The engines gun more fiercely. The lights turn green. Your foot hits the floor and adrenalin takes over as you scream up the road, wheel-to-wheel each convinced they'll get the inside line of the first corner…
…now forget that image completely, because Juiced is not even close.

Although this mobile version of the home console game puts all these basic elements and more into the blender, the resulting concoction is a decidedly weak offering. Whilst the idea of adding a role-playing dimension to the gaming is undeniably a good one, allowing you to progress through challenges against other street-racers, earn cash, respect and new cars to race on new circuits, the sad reality is that you're unlikely to want to progress too far.

Whilst we don't believe that all racing games should aspire to the 3D delights of Asphalt GT or Midtown Madness, we do believe they should at least give top-down arcade gems like Supersprint a run for their money. The viewed from above vehicles having a distinctly bricky quality that is rather unfortunately matched by their handling. Car control is limited to turning left and right through 22.5 degree increments (e.g. 4 taps to turn 90 degrees) with acceleration and gear change handled automatically. Whilst there's nothing wrong with this per se, the execution feels decidedly un-vehicular with skittish taps replacing smooth cornering arcs. Then again, as all the corners are 90 degree angles (think track design by Tetris!), cornering doesn't actually present your biggest challenge here and you'll soon be taking virtually all turns at top speed without tapping the pinball style barriers.

No, the real challenge here lies in overtaking the field of 4-8 other cars which in true arcade racer style all being start ahead of you and speed away at the first lights. In fairness this is quite a challenge, with their aggressive attitude combining with the clunky controls to leave you with little option but to stay out of their way on straights and try to duck inside at corners.

Win a challenge and you'll open up a follow-up drag race which is actually rather good fun and transfers attention from directional control to properly timed gear changes. Succeed here and you can race the leader for his car, although again what should have been a tense finale is somewhat destroyed by the fact that you don't actually lose your car or indeed anything should you lose.

Win this race and you open up another slightly different car (usually faster and with worse turning circle) and get to pick up the gauntlet from a new gang of racers.

In between races you can make yourself more competitive by using winnings to upgrade your engine to add more power and even slap on a nitro boost to increase acceleration (at price of shaky screen), which in tandem with the ability to swap cars in your garage does undeniably add a little strategy to proceedings, as do the changing weather conditions with cars skidding a little in the wet.

Ultimately though, this isn't enough to lighten up the uninspiring driving experience and keep you coming back once you start to lose races. Overall this feels like an opportunity missed on virtually all fronts and the overall lack of care is summed up perfectly by the game's inability to even remember your name, leaving you to enter it every time you break a lap record.
Reviewer photo
Chris James | 27 June 2005
Think less sharp street racing, more OJ Simpson bronco chase
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