A free, once-weekly round-up of all the best Nintendo Switch links, articles and videos from the past seven days.
Super Hexagon by
published Sunday, Jan 27th

Gaming Reads Weekly – January 27th

Keeping on top of an endless Twitter feed or a piling up RSS list can be daunting. Each and every week Gamebrit brings together a selection of some of the gaming stories that caught our eye and are worth your attention.

So sit back relax and grab a drink and give the gaming articles you may have missed this week a read:

published Wednesday, Dec 01st

Costume Quest Review

It’s very rare that a game releases at a specific time of year to match its content. This however is the case with Costume Quest, the latest offering from Double Fine Productions, who have timed their downloadable title to match the spooky holiday of Halloween.

published Saturday, Nov 27th

WWE Smackdown Vs Raw 2011 Review

Wrestling games have always been somewhat ironic. Everyone knows that the real thing is always scripted and predetermined.  Wrestling games have done completely the opposite. They encourage the violence and arguably offer a deeper sense of realism then the actual WWE live show provides. Maybe this is best reflected in the games rating (certificate 15) where as the real world programme has shifted to a PG certificate. Still THQ have a job on their hands to prove that Smackdown vs Raw is still the champion, even against their own competition in UFC.

published Wednesday, Feb 10th

Darksiders Review

The Apocalypse is a setting often used in videogames. Whether it’s a zombie apocalypse, such as Left 4 Dead, or a Post-Apocalyptic Fallout 3. Darksiders however is definitely THE Apocalypse.

Story wise, the Kingdoms of Heaven and Hell formed a pact after the humans came, and decided that the Apocalypse would not take place until the Third Kingdom – that’s us – could hold their own against the armies of Light and Darkness. Of course as always, thanks to betrayal amongst many things, the Apocalypse prematurely begins, and horseman character War is blamed for it. After having his powers taken away from him by his bosses – the Charred Council – War’s given the chance to clear his name, find his brothers (the other three horsemen) and those responsible for the premature Apocalypse.

Although these types of games usually aren’t good at conveying emotion, there are some parts of the game where War is torn when making a decision. The game really made it feel like he was struggling with what to do and the implications each desicion involves.

The game play mechanics are at the core extremely simple and easy to pick up. If you’re just looking for your Dynasty Warriors style hack n’ slash, the one button will serve your purpose. When you want to pull off combos with different types of weapons you can do so, with no overly-complicated Devil May Cry style combos. Weapon-wise, you have a small yet powerful inventory of weapons, including a boomerang style blade that becomes a key element in many puzzles afterwards. Chaoseater – War’s legendary sword – will be your main weapon however, as its two-handed grip matches extremely well with his bulky form.

Let’s not forget about War’s wrath. As you kill enemies, you slowly fill up your ‘wrath’ meter until you are able to do things like the aptly named Stoneskin, which toughens your skin in order to beef up your defence, or even summon up a hail of swords around you known as Blade Geyser. You also have some very nice finishing moves too. After “stunning” your enemies, pressing the respective button can result in a very nice arm/head decapitation, to blatantly copying Scorpion’s fatality from Mortal Kombat: tearing out your enemy’s spine.

The graphics – although nowhere near the quality of Uncharted 2 – are still awesome to look at as the art style, made by Joe Madureira, is unique to behold in this post-apocalyptic setting. It’s not all dark greys – there’s also a lot of fire. What did you expect? Hell is on earth! Which is sometimes hard to remember in this game, as some parts of the game look so outlandish, it takes finding real buildings and other human conventions to remind you that you are in fact on earth, and not in some demon realm. Another nice quirk on the regular Light and Dark forces is that the forces of Light don’t use swords, but guns.

If there’s one thing that a lot of people have complained about when it comes to Darksiders, is that it pretty much just lifts things right out of other games and throws them into a grinder. With a lot of influence from Zelda, and games ranging from Shadow of the Colossus to subtle Mortal Kombat style moments, Darksiders manages to blend them all together quite well. Therefore it can’t be said that it is a completely original game, but thanks to the way the developers implemented other game elements, most people will be able to forgive them.

Overall, Darksiders is a game that can be compared to marmite. Some people love the hack n’ slash/adventure style genre, akin to the likes of Zelda, God of War and so on. However there are some people who can’t stand these games (you freaks!) If you are a lover of these games however, then Darksiders is definitely worthy of your time. It’s a fun game with simple puzzles that make you think, but not long enough to make you bored. With the game slowly adding new abilities and weapons to keep combat interesting, it’s as non-repetitive as any hack n’ slash game can be made to be.

published Friday, Jun 05th

Red Faction: Guerrilla Review

This new entry into the Red Faction series takes place several years after the earlier games, and yet again takes place on a somewhat desolate Mars. New to the red planet is the games hero, Alec Mason, who has travelled to the planet to work with his brother Dan. Soon into the game the true state of the planet comes into view; the Earth Defence Force have overrun the planet and are forcing a fascist regime on the worlds various inhabitants. To no surprise Alec quickly gains reason to exact revenge on the enemy and from this point the game unfolds with one simple goal, eradicate the EDF from Mars.

Thankfully ridding the planet of the enemy is a fun task to be challenged with, as doing so includes clobbering enemies and buildings with your sledgehammer, blowing fuel tanks with explosives and so on. The task of destruction, admittedly is a shallow one, but one that brings a simple joy in terms of gameplay. Put simply, blowing things up is fun, and destruction is one thing Red Faction: Guerrilla has definitely gotten right. The way buildings deteriorate as you smash them is believable and gives a tactile response and the freedom to smash pretty much anything is refreshing. The visual enjoyment to be gained from seeing buildings topple is a memorable one.

Gamers begin their destructive challenge in the region of Parker, just one of the six zones that require liberating. To free the zone of EDF enforcement Alec must travel around either by foot, or through a pleasingly large variety of vehicles, and destroy both buildings, propaganda advertisements and of course EDF soldiers. Over time as you weaken the EDF threat more rebels will join your cause and help you out in certain situations, further aiding in clearing the zone. Simply destroying the same buildings with the same weapons you start out with would tire quickly and to combat this an effective upgrade system is in place. As you destroy buildings you can collect scrap, which can then be used to upgrade and purchase new weapons. These new weapons then assist in eradicating the enemy threat more quickly and effectively. Unfortunately it is only so long until destroying yet another generic building becomes tiresome and the amusement of demolition fades, even with an enhanced or new arsenal to assist you.

Beyond the main goal of abolishing the EDF’s various strongholds, a variety of sub missions can also be found within the vast, yet seemingly empty, sandbox world. These include convoy missions which see you taking out a specific vehicle, ambush missions which see you helping civilians fight off an enemy attack and so on. These missions pop up from time to time, and are completely optional to the main campaign, yet do assist in advancing quicker through the campaign. Although these supplementary goals may seem like a welcome addition to the somewhat repetitive nature of the principal task at hand, they offer very little in terms of true variety, it’s all just destruction. For gamers who can look beyond the repetitive nature of the titles core gameplay a large world with plenty to do is on offer.

Red Faction: Guerilla

In credit to the games developer Volition, Inc. they have created a visually appealing title. As you traverse the baron environment the sun burns in the distance and a sense of what the red planet may look like is convincingly conveyed, but sadly the world feels far from alive as very little interesting structures and environments can be found. An attractive yet empty planet.

Thankfully to complement the single player campaign a multiplayer mode is also available, and it’s here where the destructive gameplay really comes into it’s own. Working as a team to take down the enemy, by whatever means necessary, really does present some fun and engaging multiplayer moments, and the unscripted and unpredictability of real world opponents makes the multiplayer something that really does add value to an otherwise repetitive title, and makes Guerrilla’s multiplayer compenent stand out in comparison to other similar offerings.

Red Faction: Guerrilla offers plenty of gameplay, yet sadly the poor storyline and the lack of variety within the game world brings the overall experience down and fails to truly engage beyond the first few hours. A fun experience at first, that soon becomes a chore. The real enjoyment is to be found in the multiplayer modes, which really are explosive pure fun.

published Saturday, Nov 24th

WWE Smackdown Vs Raw 2008 Review

Now in its 9th iteration, THQ’s Smackdown series has been going almost as long as the show it takes its name from. Every year they add more and more features and refine various mechanics – some of these work well, some of them don’t. This year boasts some major gameplay changes as well as a revamped single player mode, so let’s find out just how good (or not) they are…

First and foremost, the game’s single most major change is in its “fighting styles”. These work in giving each wrestler a little bit more individuality and serve in making fighting with them more realistic. Each wrestler has a primary and a secondary style, which match with their real-life fighting methods, and each one give the wrestler specific special moves and characteristics. For example powerhouses, like Triple H or Lashley, are able to power up and make all of their grapple attacks irreversible and can use a more powerful Irish Whip, amongst other specialties. High flyers like Jeff Hardy or Rey Mysterio generally move quicker, can pull off surprise pins, and so on. There are 8 styles altogether, and these are a big improvement on the actual gameplay, even if some of the styles just aren’t as good as the others.Unfortunately this is really the only change that affects the gameplay in any meaningful way.

The submission system has changed, and now relies solely on the right analog stick (you can rotate it to add pressure, similarly you rotate it to escape), however this doesn’t really make much difference in its effect. There are also some minor changes such as a simpler grapple system – pushing the right stick performs a simple grapple move as before, however holding the right bumper and pushing up or down performs a strong grapple, and pushing left or right performs an ultimate control move. Again, this is a slight improvement but nothing major. You can also run in any direction now by holding the left bumper and moving, but then this is something that should have been introduced years ago.The other major addition this year is the introduction of ECW, which includes several of the wrestlers from the brand, as well as the new ECW Extreme Rules Match.

That works pretty much the same as a Hardcore match, however now you can pick whatever weapon you want from under the ring from a choice of 8, including chairs, tables, ladders, sledgehammer, etc. You can also set some of the weapons (and the table) on fire now, which is a nice touch that any old-school ECW fan will appreciate. Tournament mode has returned (now with the new Beat The Clock Sprint), as well as a new “Hall of Fame” mode which tasks you with recreating legendary moments in WWE programming (beating Bret Hart as Shawn Michaels in an Ironman match, for example) which is really nothing more than a renamed challenge mode from last year. All of the usual creation modes have also returned with very little added to them –create a wrestler, create a championship, etc. Create an entrance, though, does now allow the option of using custom music which works well enough and is a nice added feature. Next up is the new 24/7 mode, which is an amalgamation of last year’s Season and GM modes.

Unfortunately this is a pretty major step back from last year – gone are the days of just wrestling the shows every week, earning EXP from your match and getting involved with a decent story – it’s now been replaced with a calendar where you need to specify what you do on every single day, including training up your wrestler in a variety of disciplines, earning popularity by signing autographs, starring in a movie, etc. This sounds great on paper; unfortunately the execution is pretty flawed. The constant training needed to raise your stats is a real chore (for example, you need to perform as many strong grapples as you can in 2 minutes to raise your strength – yawn), and the other activities such as starring in a pay-per-view commercial, signing autographs etc don’t actually do anything except to tell you that you “gained 2 popularity” and “gained 20% fatigue” right after selecting it.

That’s right, fatigue. As well as worrying about your stats, you also need to worry about how much fatigue you have. Overexert yourself too much and you’re prone to injury, which causes one of your limb meters to be automatically damaged when you start a match (you can’t skip a match even if you’re injured). To combat this you need to rest up, however selecting a day of rest causes your popularity to plummet (because apparently taking a day off makes all the fans hate you). To combat this you need to reach a fine balance of how much work you do during the week with how much rest you take. Ultimately it’s a real pain and last year’s story was simply a lot more fun.

Speaking of the story, the days where you’re actually scheduled to compete on your respective brand (Mondays for RAW, Tuesdays for ECW and Fridays for Smackdown) are similar to season mode last year – you enter storylines, wrestle matches, chase the title, etc. Again these are a step back, with the story becoming pretty much non-existent outside of voicemails and magazine articles that appear, and half the time they don’t even make any sense. On more than one occasion I’ve received voicemails telling me my next match is against myself, and in cut scenes before matches (there seems to be only a few of these and they just constantly loop throughout your career) my wrestler was often seen shaking the hand of my arch nemesis. One time I was scheduled to wrestle my rival MVP, who ended up being Kane when I actually got into the match, who then seemed to transform back into MVP in the post-match cut scene. It all seems incredibly rushed.

The GM mode side is pretty much identical to last year – you draft a roster of superstars, create feuds, specify the matches to appear on your weekly shows, etc. Unlike real WWE programming however, you can’t set the outcome of the match, which is a real pain in the ass when you’re trying to arrange your champion to compete in a squash match only to have him lose the belt.

The roster of superstars you can pick this year is actually smaller than last year. At first glance you think this is probably due to the fact that WWE in general has fewer superstars right now than it did one year ago, but then you realise that the game has missed out a whole slew of worthy candidates for inclusion – London/Kendrick, Highlanders, Cody Rhodes, Hardcore Holly, Beth Phoenix etc. Not even the current Tag Team Champions Cade and Murdoch are there when they were included last year, which frankly boggles the mind. The roster of superstars that are there are somewhat out of date as well, with wrestlers such as Cryme Tyme, King Booker, Marcus Cor Von etc not even a part of WWE anymore. Triple H doesn’t have his current music or Titantron video (seriously, how much effort would it take to quickly update a video?), John Morrison still has his Nitro gimmick – this all adds up to making the game feel a tad outdated.

Online is identical to last year, which means that it still feels rushed and tacked-on. Why can’t you team up with a friend and then search for another tag-team to fight? Why does it boot you out of the lobby when you finish the game, forcing us to remake a lobby just to play again? This is an ever-important area that is in desperate need of attention. The graphics, thankfully, are as good as ever. Most superstars look uncannily like their real-life counterparts, and most of the entrances are spot-on. The hair still looks terrible though, and this is something that THQ really need to work on. The animation is also starting to look a little dated.The game’s commentary is downright terrible, just as it was last year. Delivered lines are badly timed, are said over and over again, and by the time you’re playing your tenth match you’ll just want to turn it off. I know that Umaga is an unstoppable machine; I don’t need to hear that again and again. The entrance announcing is just as bad this year as well. These are things that really need to be sorted out, because it’s been going on for a good few years now.

It’s a shame that this year’s iteration of wrestling goodness is lacking in decent new content, because it only serves to highlight how flawed some of the existing areas of the game are. Saying that, this is by no means a “bad game” – the core gameplay is still fun to play and wrestling fans will get a kick out of it, but at the end of the day what’s there is just too similar to last year with some of it being a step back.

Worms: Open Warfare 2 by
published Wednesday, Nov 21st

Worms: Open Warfare 2 Review

The jump to 3D has reinvigorated many classic gaming series; the extra dimension has breathed new life into mainstays such as Zelda, Metroid and Metal Gear. For some franchises though, the attempt to transfer their core gameplay into the third dimension has been met with scorn, failure and in some cases its killed the franchise off entirely. Old favourites Lemmings and Sonic are two series that have struggled to retain the core values (and core audience) that made them so popular in the first place. The Worms franchise is another that has dabbled with 3D, but thankfully, after the disappointing Worms 3D and Forts titles creators Team 17 returned the series to its roots. The Xbox Live version and last year’s Open Warfare may have left some fans deflated – thanks to greatly reduced options and the absence of some key weaponry – but the series is back with a bang with possibly the best title to date.

Open Warfare 2 more than makes up for its lacklustre predecessor, all the staple weapons are back and the single-player options have been padded out quite nicely. Alongside the regular death match mode, Team 17 have added new campaign options and a few mini-games that are great fun in multiplayer. The new puzzle mode – a series of challenges designed to test your skills with each weapon – could have been turned into a separate game had it been fleshed out a little more and provides a lot of fun outside regular battles. Likewise, the Challenge mode is also engaging and should give veterans a good place to hone their tactics.

Not to be outdone, the multiplayer side has also been spruced up to make battling friends or strangers as addictive as ever. Online modes are more stable now and the amount of options available should satisfy virtually any desires you may have. You can even send a small ‘demo’ to a friend if they want to try out the game for themselves which is a great addition and one that should help bring new players to the series.

For those of you who like to have a personalised Worm army, customising your team (and individual worms) is far easier. On top of traditional options, hats (the only major aesthetical addition) are now available to further differentiate your worms from your opponents, which is very handy on the smaller handheld screens. Strangely the game now cuts out any team/worm name it deems to be a swear word – presumably to keep little Timmy from having to play against ‘Arse biters United’ in an online match – so don’t be surprised if your less sanitary sounding worms all appear to be called ‘XXXX’.

While presentation wasn’t a problem in the first title, the graphics, menus and sound have all had a lick of paint, resulting in one of the nicest looking 2D PSP games so far. The cut scenes interspersed between fights contain the same sense of comic humour the series has become famous for and the PSP screen is a perfect fit for the bright, colourful battlefields so it’s great to see Team 17 really bump up the graphical quality for this game. They’ve also rejigged the controls to better fit the PSP’s button layout so it’s even easier to dish out annelid annihilation. Zooming in and out of the battlefield with the shoulder buttons is quicker and smoother than previously and without the juddering that affected the first game and the analogue stick is now used to scroll around on the fly.

The few problems that exist with Open Warfare 2 are pretty much endemic to the whole series; matches can take ages when CPU teams are involved and the AI can still waver between amazing and dumb-ass from one turn to the next. It also would have been nice to have a save option mid-battle given the portable nature of the format.

Still, with its tight controls, excellent presentation and a wealth of options, Worms: Open Warfare 2 is a must have for any Worms fanatics out there and is a perfect introduction to anyone who has never tried the series before.

published Friday, Mar 23rd

Supreme Commander Review

To most casual observers the once monstrous RTS genre has been lying dead in the water for many years now. A lack of major innovation from even the biggest titles and a stubborn refusal to deviate from genre structure and overused clichés has left it stagnant and its appeal has withered in the eyes of the mainstream public. Some even argue that the genre reached its peak in the mid nineties with benchmark setting games like Command & conquer and Warcraft may never rise to those standards again. Of course there are those that would counter that, putting forward recent titles like Company of Heroes and Rise of Nations as a good indication RTS has a rosy future. Whatever your thoughts on the future of real time Strategy games the release of Chris Taylor’s Supreme Commander should make you and your left mouse button finger quiver with excitement.

While his name may not be instantly recognisable to most gamers but to RTS aficionados Chris Taylor is regarded in the same way as FPS nuts view John Carmack, and for good reason. During those early years there were only two RTS titles worth your money, Command & Conquer and Total Annihilation. C&C may have performed better at retail but it was TA that had the most passionate following, in fact, until recently servers hosting the original TA were still bustling with activity from hardened fans.

A true sequel has been in high demand ever since and other than a couple of expansion packs and the poorly received TA: Kingdoms there has been no sign of the TA brand even now. But fans can rejoice as Chris Taylor has returned to the universe, and genre, he helped kick-start a decade ago with the rather excellent Supreme Commander.

Set in the distant 30th century, humans are in the middle of a fiercely fought Galactic Civil War contested by three factions; the United Earth Federation, the Aeon Illuminate (Pro-active Spiritualists) and the Cybran nation (Androids battling against the chains of human oppression). After years of fighting ‘The Infinite War’ against the two other nations, the UEF are in ruins and on the brink of defeat. As a last resort they construct an almighty space-based weapon capable of destroying an entire planet. The weapon can be used against the UEF and now you enter the battle, attempting to turn the tide of war in you chosen faction’s favour. Ok, so the story may not win any prizes for originality but the fact that none of the sides are portrayed as clear-cut whiter than white good guys is a nice design choice. The story is probably the only big letdown as this is easily one of the best strategy games since the days of its half-brother.

It is a sequel in all but name; the game structure, battle units and overall presentation feel just like TA only with the extra polish you’d expect from ten years of technological progress. Like it’s predecessor, Supreme Commander will give even the most powerful PCs of it’s era a thorough workout and it is worth pointing out that the recommended specs on the box are not for not just for show, you will need to check your PC can handle it before considering a purchase.

The reason why Supreme Commander needs so much oomph soon becomes apparent as you get presented with some of the grandest missions ever contained in an RTS. Even in the first couple of ‘tutorial’ missions the scale dwarfs the epic battles from the Total War series. You would be forgiven for wondering what the fuss is about when you first take hold of your ACU (Armoured Command unit, essentially your on-screen character) you can barely explore the area around you but it does allow you to see your initial buildings from a small distance, a view you’ll barely use later on.

The game world slowly expands as you complete each task, until the map is so large individual units are little more than pinpricks on the screen. Finding particular tanks or aircraft from these distances would have been a nightmare were it not for one of Supreme Commander’s trump cards, battle icons, which make it simple to direct your armies quickly and effectively from any distance. As such, there is no longer a need for a separate map cluttering up the view screen as it is so easy to just zoom out, direct your units, and then return to ground level for more intricate commands.

In fact, the whole interface feels a lot simpler than other RTS games and there are a lot of shortcuts designed to aid you in your role as the ‘Supreme Commander’ on the battlefield. You can assign multiple commands to each unit, making it easy to set up patrols or organise a gun and run attack. As with its predecessor, resources are drip fed regularly through energy extractors and can be stockpiled for when it’s needed, energy can even be collected by your ACU during any short gap in the fighting by extracting it from nearby plant life or even from your enemies smoking remains.

The only other disappointment with Supreme Commander is the amount of single player missions, a paltry six per faction. Admittedly, they are much longer than you’d find in the average RTS and later missions require some pretty in depth strategies and lots of concentration to complete but you will see through them all within ten hours.

But the multiplayer options more than make up for this and online, this is honestly the most fun I’ve had on an RTS since playing Red Alert 2 on my Uni LAN network. Games are easy to set up and the amount of customisation on offer is terrific. It was a shame the full modding kit never made it to the retail version as it contained all the level editing software used by the actual development team. It would have been fitting to create the ultimate Mod package with the spiritual successor of the game that first kindled such passions in so many strategy fans way back when.

Supreme Commander is a fantastic game overall and as long as you have a PC powerful enough to do it justice this is an essential purchase, RTS fans might even want to consider upgrading your set up just for this game.

Barnyard by
published Tuesday, Nov 07th

Barnyard Review

The amount of CGI cartoons released in the cinema this year has been more than any other year. The sudden influx hasn’t meant better viewing for audiences and none have come close to matching the pinnacles set by the likes of Shrek and Toy Story. Barnyard came somewhere in the middle of the pile; far from the worst released, but will probably only be remembered for featuring male cows with udders. And so inevitably, a Video game version hits the shops ready for the little munch-kins to badger their parents into buying as soon as they’re out of the cinema.

Most cartoon tie-ins offer very little more than generic gameplay, packed into a platform game and blessed with little or no imagination. Barnyard is slightly different, for a start, it doesn’t follow the usual genre choice, instead opting for a free-to-roam adventure (Think GTA with cows and pretty colours) complete with vehicles to explore around the local area.

In the beginning you are introduced to the ensemble cast of the film via a surprisingly funny opening cut-scene; the characters aren’t the best to have come from the Nickleodeon studio but are charming nonetheless. You play a new recruit to the farm, and are gently eased into the game by the resident animals who give you small tasks to complete before you can open the farm gates and explore the wider world.

Barnyard has much to like about it, with nice colourful environments and charming, if a little generic, graphics that kids will enjoy. There is also a lot to do in the game, with a large game world filled with plenty of tasks and some really fun mini games. The Day/Night structure is also worth a mention, with different jobs available depending on the time. Things also get better as you unlock new areas and gain access to vehicles that cows really shouldn’t be allowed to travel on.

There is plenty of content hidden away for any astute explorers. Character art and animations can be unlocked and viewed from the title screen which is a nice touch. You can also access any mini-games from the front screen without having to go back through the game to play them.

Unfortunately there are some problems that will turn off any gamers that don’t fit the target demographic, for a start it is very, very slow to play. Your character barely moves at more than a snail’s pace, even with the sprint button held down and it can be very tedious travelling between destinations. This is made all the worse by the severe loading delays when popping in and out of areas. Any tasks that require you to travel between sections ‘collecting’ items for the other animals will need a heck of a lot of patience to complete.

Its hard to rate Barnyard as anything more than just above average; it is better than most movie tie-ins but that doesn’t really say a lot. It does try to do things a bit differently and looks like it has had some care taken over it but there are other games out there that do the same things and are more fun to play (try A Dog’s Life). If you have children that enjoyed the film and need their little minds occupied while you do more important things then you can probably add an extra point onto this review score.

Juiced by
published Sunday, Oct 02nd

Juiced Review

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 had over at the now defunct Acclaim. With these publisher troubles aside, what can the game offer you, the player; and is it worth your hard earned pennies?

Juiced at first seems like a fairly standard racer offering an arcade like mix of gameplay styles which fall somewhere in-between those of Forza Motorsport (lack of on road traffic) on the Xbox and the popular multiformat Need For Speed (customizable options) series, and although this is no major bad thing, this tends to leave a bitter taste of ‘me to’ type structure to this title. 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.