Juiced 2: Hot Import Nights
Another PS3 release that slyly found its way into retail without review code materialising at Eurogamer, this piece could almost be considered a post mortem in light of THQ's decision to kill off the franchise (update: although Juice Games lives on - apologies for the original error). Playing this game, it's not that difficult to understand why.
It occurs to me that thematically Juiced just didn't move with the times. The whole concept is mired in the old underground car-modding/illegal street racing scene that EA purposefully left behind years ago. In the meantime, boy-racer car mods became tacky, clichéd and embarrassing - exemplified by the collapse of Maxpower's readership from a colossal 240,000 readers per month at its height, to its present day chav-count of a mere 45,000. Indeed, Juiced 2 could almost be seen as the Maxpower of racing games; gaudily over-the-top and liberally bedecked with barely dressed, spit-or-swallow, questionably 'fit' girlies.
You can combine that with Kristan's bang-on assessment of the gameplay in the original review - basically it feels like an HD version of something we all got bored of during the PS2 era, to the point where even the handling model is basic, thrill-free and fundamentally unsatisfying. I quite enjoyed the maniacal drifting circuits built around world landmarks, but that turned out to be a rare flash of inspiration in an otherwise totally unremarkable game.
'Totally unremarkable' also serves to sum up the quality of the PlayStation 3 conversion. It tries its best to give the illusion that it runs as smoothly as the Xbox 360 game, but does so with the introduction of very noticeable screen tear. Sure, it's present in the Microsoft code too, but not obtrusively so as it is here. A lot of the 360 version's graphical tricks have gone AWOL too - no motion blur or depth-of-field effects, to name but two. Not that an accomplished PS3 version would have made any difference to the fortunes of the Juiced series of course. Unfortunately, it's simply a case that the core ingredients are way past their sell-by date, and best off tossed into the garbage.