Juiced, which was originally slated for a release last year, is now in stores thanks to publisher THQ who picked up the title after the troubles over at the now defunct Acclaim. With these publisher issues aside, what can the game offer you, and is it worth your hard earned pennies?

At first Juiced seems to be a fairly standard racer, offering an arcade-like mix of gameplay styles, falling somewhere in-between the likes of Forza Motorsport (a lack of on road traffic) and the popular multi platform Need For Speed series (customisable options) — although these comparisons are no bad thing, it does tend to leave an overall impression of something that’s a little bit ‘me to’.

On that point it is fair to point out that genre issues do not stop this game from having a certain degree of appeal, especially if the high recent sales are to be considered; as Juiced has several gameplay elements which although are not overly fresh, do add to the gaming experience. These elements for example are mostly seen in the career mode (where the main build of the game lies) which seems to combine the earlier two intellectual properties mentioned well by offering a slew of customizable options, and various vehicles along with one expansive ‘world’ to cruise around.

Within this world you will come across various characters that will either be your friend or foe, and in a nice touch you will earn or lose ‘respect’ from these folks, in order to open up new levels, or obtain new vehicles, this offers a new twist on the standard monetary requirements or point based systems usually found in racers, and actually does require more than placing in the pole position in order to earn this respect from your fellow racing chums. The only annoying feature of the respect system is the tedious video conversations with the other NPC’s which eventually become quite irritating. Of course ultimately though the respect marks you earn do infact result in money, which can then buy you a slew of racing vehicles which you could expect to find in the Underground games.

Another noteworthy element of Juiced gameplay structure is the ability to create your own racing team, and although at first this may seem like an interesting prospect of hiring people to join your ever expanding racing team, the appeal is soon lost after the tiresome fact of having to watch their CPU controlled races, which is in all honesty is rather boring.

From here the game doesn’t offer any more surprises, with a handful more modes offering gameplay which can be found in similar superior titles and although the campaign within Juiced can offer a lengthy challenge to those willing to see it through; the end reward is mediocre at best with minimal feel of accomplishment.

Graphically Juiced scores an average, with nice looking car models but lacking environments on the tracks. Also the menu systems are at times somewhat difficult to navigate. Audio within Juiced is somewhat standard offering generic car noises and the above mentioned crew trash talking video conversations, the soundtrack fairs better with actual licensed music featuring the likes of Paul Oakenfold, Kasabian, and everybody’s favourite Xzibit, but don’t worry only you can Pimp your ride. If the soundtrack featured in game doesn’t take your fancy you can always use the Xbox’s awesome custom soundtrack feature so you can ride around to your own tunes.

Juiced is certainty a ‘me to’ type game trying (successfully) to ride off the back of other popular racing series like NFSU and Burnout. However, even though the game offers a lengthy challenge with a healthy dose of options and customizable tinkering the mediocrity of the races and lack of any major exciting moments makes this title somewhat lacking in mass appeal.

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