Fuel Overdose is a brilliant idea which lost its way during production. At first glance, Fuel Overdose looks like a game that harkens back to Micro Machines — which wouldn’t be a bad analysis — but it’s much more than that. Instead, think of Fuel Overdose as a Micro Machines-inspired racer with Street Fighter and Twisted Metal elements thrown into the mix. It’s a strange combination of gameplay elements and it’s, unfortunately, the game’s main flaw while also being the main attraction. If you can ignore the simple and shallow plot, which ultimately boils down to a death race for a life saving vaccine, you can suss out some mild enjoyment. But to fully enjoy and appreciate Fuel Overdose you’ll spend a bountiful amount of time with the game. You may not want to do that.
Fuel Overdose‘s story is told through RPG-like cut scenes which feature character portraits and text. There are 8 characters in total. The anime-inspired design is pleasing and looks phenomenal, but the female designs are a bit over the top (no pun intended). It’s anime fan service, of course, but for a game that takes itself so seriously it seems out of place. The soundtrack is particularly memorable, but it fits well into the racing action with its uptempo heavy rock.
Early on, you’ll notice that Fuel Overdose requires precision and patience to play. The game begins with a tutorial that explains how to use the grappling hook, weapons, shields, EMP hooks, and a few other destructive capabilities. Each character is also outfitted with his or her own special ability that’s unleashed with the right stick by performing two Street Fighter-style quarter circles or quickly moving the stick up and down. These attacks usually effect all the drivers in the vicinity by knocking them off course or slowing them down. Learning how to effectively use all of the tools at your disposal is incredibly daunting, because there’s so much you need to remember. Also, learning when to use weapons, special abilities, or the grapple hook takes time.
You can use cash earned after each race to upgrade your weapons or buy new vehicles which include a speedy coup, semi-truck, and other rides. However, it’s hard to tell how each vehicle’s handling differs because it’s difficult to actually drive. There’s nothing positive you can say about the terrible camera, floaty controls, and random map clipping.
Fuel Overdose, much like the older Grand Theft Auto games, has so much happening on screen that it becomes difficult to keep track of where you are when things get hectic It’s also ridiculously difficult to see ahead when completing tight turns due to the camera, which often leads to crashes (and on maps with hazards, it usually means losing your place). Luckily, this issue clears up once you become more familiar with the maps.
There are also instances 0f map clipping that cause textures to simply disappear. This just adds to the already numerous distractions that appear during a race. These issues would be minimal if controlling your racer weren’t so difficult. No matter which vehicle you choose (and there is quite a few), you’ll always feel like your car is drifting. None of the vehicles — which range from cars to trucks to small speedsters –have any traction or handling. If you dare use the hand break, expect to spin out of control.
Unfortunately, I was unable to enjoy the online multiplayer. Fuel Overdose consistently dropped connections, delivered game-breaking lag, and had problems finding matches. That said, when I did get into a stable match the game was enjoyable; it just didn’t happen often. If you really must have a death-race style driving game, Fuel Overdose will set you back just $9.99 — but I can’t say I recommend it. With a bit more polish, Fuel Overdose could have been a great game.