In any other year a PC racing-lite enthusiast would be reading this review and being subjected to a list of reasons as to why the latest Need For Speed is far better. But that's now been thrown high up in the air what with ProStreet being an ill-conceived dog egg of a game. Surging into pole position then, in this almighty 'probably better played on console tbh' stand off, is Juiced 2: Hot Import Nights.
This is a curious amalgam of every console racer under the sun: with the pimped performance cars and jiggling ladies of a Need for Speed, the drifts of Ridge Racer, the focus on nitro and rival freak outs of a Burnout, and the real world locations (or at least strategic Big Ben placement) of a Project Gotham.
And it's a competent game too - handling is of the 'simple, but hard to master' variety, tracks are well-designed and the difficulty level well pitched. So, Juiced 2 is a right little magpie of a game, picking out bits from other racers it fancies, but while the basic racing ticks the required boxes, little that it pinches works as well as it should. And the AI isn't too hot either.
What's more Hot Import Nights holds itself in the same manner of a drunken dad at a wedding disco jiving to 'that Umbrella song they play on the radio'. It gets the sexy ladies on the loading screens right (not exactly tricky that one) - but whose idea was it to have you driving round London listening to Voodoo People by The Prodigy? An electro-punk classic it may be, but Juiced 2's target audience were barely born when that song was out.
The game's stab at originality comes with a DNA system that keeps tabs on how you race so a carbon copy of your racing brain can be put into a friend's career mode - but it fails to realise that everyone plays this game in the same way: go fast, take corners well, don't crash.
Juiced 2 is an insecure game unsure of who wants to play it, but that's not to say it isn't fun. The races are challenging, hectic, and occasionally exhilarating, while the modding has enough flashy company logos to bamboozle the layman into believing it authentic. Beyond the go-faster stripes, though, there's little sense of ownership as such. So instead of putting forward this year's NFS as an alternative, just get last year's.
Tepid Xbox-port days
- Fun racing, good learning curve
- Better than NFS: ProStreet
- Daft Driver DNA system
- Copies lots, perfects absolutely nothing
- Pretty damn generic in all honesty