Fuel comes to the Xbox 360 with an inspiring concept: To combine the elements of Twisted Metal, Dirt, and Pure into one post apocalyptic package. While the game tries to run on high octane dynamics, what attracts players the most is its open-world driving condition. Many of its racing modes are exciting and cleverly constructed. But what makes the game rather engaging is the incredible environmental effects that deliver intense off-road moments. The developer nails down some of the basics in driving with user-friendly controls. The physics however seem to be a bit uneven where jumps can sometimes knock you out of course. Still, Fuel tries to be original by offering a number of unique perspectives in the racing genre.

One such perspective is being able to roam free in a highly-battered sprawling open arena. Fuel gets part of its thrill from impressive landscapes that are rigged with unpaved ramps, winding roads, smutty bridges, and forsaken farmland. The fun part of driving into one of these debris-filled areas is inventing your own shortcuts, and coming out of a thorny woodwork intact. The game provides an imposing collection of races that include various types of challenges. You have a helicopter chase that has you constantly rummaging for the best unmarked routes. There is a seek-and-destroy section that pushes you to catch up with the enemy and eliminate him. The list of outrageous challenges in this game goes on and on!

The success of your race will largely depend on how well you can improvise shortcuts. The competition is fierce but that’s only when you take the traditional path where the AI seems to have the greatest advantage. Though the AI is not employed with “rubber band” lining, which is meant to create close competition, your opponents can swerve through corners at high speed without losing grip and able to shun away from costly errors. It is as if the law of gravity doesn’t apply to your competition. So your best option is to forge your own routes. Rewards don’t come easy in this game but when it’s time to collect, you’ll open up a whole new world of liveries, vista points, bonus outerwear, paints jobs, radical vehicle designs, and more!

Graphically, the game looks spectacular for the most part. The developer did a good job of carving out an unbelievable 5,000 square miles of wasteland. It not only provides a convincing presentation of a post apocalyptic setting but also an immersive channel for a multiplayer mayhem online! Most of the vehicles are done with great effort where such details on dune buggies and ATV’s are reminiscent of the Twisted Metal days. The special effects give off an in-your-face reality check with all kinds of debris hitting at your screen. Unfortunately, the animation could use a bit of tweaking. Don’t get me wrong, the action sequence is fine but the condensed frame rate sort of cuts down on the heart-pounding G force.

In the audio department, the sound effects deliver some catchy materials that truly depict a post apocalyptic scenario. You can almost feel the wrath of sandstorms, alerting you of an impending ferocious tornado. As the visibility of your surroundings turns dim, all you can hear are whooshes of flying debris getting stronger! It’s a great sight to behold all these pieces of atmospheric noises come alive! Sometimes you get carried away in this wasted world of Fuel because of how well the developer has synchronized the gritty presentation with a Mad Max style ensemble. The upbeat soundtracks do a fair job of pumping some adrenaline charge into the driving sequence, getting players into the groove of survival of the fittest.

Fuel is a welcome concept to any racing fans. Many of its components are inspired by Twisted Metal, Dirt, and Pure. The good part is the ease of the controls and the amazing environmental effects – such as sand storms, tornadoes, flying debris, day and night transition – that heightens your visual senses. But the best part is tearing through an unimaginable 5,000 square miles of post apocalyptic landscape – from snowcapped mountains to ruined cityscapes! However, Fuel’s main drawbacks stem from slow loading and not getting enough speed to feel the rush! Fortunately, the crazy challenges make for some exciting moments. As unique as Fuel is to the racing genre, only a handful of gamers will appreciate its real value.