Picture the scene. It's a hot summer night and the setting sun casts sheen across the barren ahead. You however are the epitome of cool, lounging in your bucket seat, clutching the throbbing wheel of your shiny souped-up racer. You rev the engine and stare menacingly across at your competitor who's even shinier, more souped up vehicle could be yours if you can beat him to the finish line. Suddenly the assembled throng quieten down and pull back from the streets. The engines gun more fiercely. The lights turn green. Your foot hits the floor and adrenalin takes over as you scream up the road, wheel-to-wheel each convinced you'll get the inside line on the first corner...
...now forget that image completely, because Juiced is not even close.
Although this mobile version of the home console game puts all these basic elements and more into the blender, the resulting concoction is decidedly weak. The idea of adding a role-playing dimension is undeniably a good one, allowing you to progress through challenges against other street-racers, earn cash, respect and new cars to race on new circuits, but the sad reality is that you're unlikely to bother with it for very long.
We don't believe all racing games should aspire to the 3D delights of Asphalt GT or Midtown Madness on mobile, but we do believe they should give top-down arcade gems like Supersprint a run for their money. The viewed-from-above vehicles have a distinctly bricky quality, and this is matched by the handling. Car control is limited to turning left and right in 22.5 degree increments (e.g. 4 taps to turn 90 degrees) with acceleration and gear change handled automatically. Whilst there's nothing wrong with this per se, the execution feels decidedly un-vehicular with skittish taps replacing smooth cornering arcs. Then again, as all the corners are 90 degree angles (think track design by Tetris!), cornering doesn't actually present your biggest challenge here and you'll soon be taking virtually all turns at top speed without tapping the pinball style barriers.
No, the real challenge here lies in overtaking the field of 4-8 other cars which in true arcade racer style all start ahead of you and speed away at the first lights. In fairness this is quite a challenge - their aggressive attitude combined with the clunky controls leaving you little option but to stay out of their way on straights and to try and duck past on corners.
Meanwhile, if you win a challenge you'll open up a follow-up drag race which is actually rather good fun and transfers attention from directional control to properly timed gear changes. Succeed here and you can race the leader for his car, although again what should have been a tense finale is somewhat destroyed by the fact that you don't actually lose your car or indeed anything should you be defeated.
Win this race and you open up another slightly different car (usually faster with a poorer turning circle) and get to pick up the gauntlet from a new gang of racers.
In between races you can make yourself more competitive by using winnings to upgrade your engine to add more power and even slap on a nitro boost to increase acceleration (at the price of a shaky screen), which in tandem with the ability to swap cars in your garage does undeniably add a little strategy to proceedings, as do the changing weather conditions with cars skidding a little in the wet.
Ultimately though, this isn't enough to lighten up the uninspiring driving experience and keep you coming back once you start to lose races. Overall it feels like an opportunity missed on virtually all fronts, and the overall lack of care is summed up perfectly by the game's inability to even remember your name, leaving you to enter it every time you break a lap record.
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