FUEL: Pre-Apocalyptic Racing

By Alec Meer on August 19th, 2008 at 4:51 pm.

I don’t think I’ve ever been excited about a racing game before. I’ve enjoyed plenty of ‘em, and sometimes very much so, but I’ve never thought “ooh, I’m really looking forward to driving around a slightly better-looking race track.”

Until now. FUEL is the next inexplicably capitalised inhabitant of Codemaster’s racing stable (with DIRT and GRID. I look forward to WHEEL, GEAR and QUITE FAST ACTUALLY). And it sounds awesome.

No straight track racing here – it’s set in an alternaverse where, uh, oil prices are really high and climate change is causing problems. Only more so. It’s pre-apocalyptic rather than post-apocalyptic, but still very much in keeping with gaming’s current thematic obsession. Only here it’s all about the cars, not the mutants and the shotguns and the bitching about Bethesda. It’s not the theme that gets me, though I do relish a move from the Nürburgring into something a little more fantastic. It’s the fact that FUEL is an open world game.

Yes, open-world racing – finding your own best route across a 5,000 square metre mile landscape. There’s been some talk as to where racing games go from here if they’re to avoid painting themselves into a niche, and perhaps this is the way forward. At the very least, it’ll be a fascinating experiment.

The developer’s interesting – this one isn’t from Codies’ own racing studio, the folk behind GRID and DIRT, but instead French outfit Asobo Studio. Their previous projects? Um. Garfield 2, Ratatouille and The Mummy and most recently the PC and PS2 versions of Wall-E. Um. Clearly this is them seizing the day, possibly with a large pot of licensed game cash behind them, and doing their own thing. I really hope it pays off, as the concept sounds fantastic.

No screens/videos yet (the one at the top of this post is from GRID, but recoloured into Next-Generation Brown by me. It was supposed to be funnier, but there isn’t much inherent comedy in brown cars.), but hopefully they’ll come out of Leipzig. Full press release below, however.

Edit – some footage here (thanks Mang). Pretty! Brown, but definitely pretty.

Set to revolutionise multi-terrain racing with the largest environment ever created in race gaming, Codemasters today announced signing the worldwide publishing rights to FUEL™ from Asobo Studios. Promising a truly next generation addition to the racing genre, FUEL is in development at Asobo Studios in Bordeaux, France, for the PLAYSTATION®3 computer entertainment system, Xbox 360® video game and entertainment system from Microsoft®, Games For Windows® LIVE and due to release in 2009.

Born of Asobo Studios’ cutting-edge proprietary engine, the result of over four years in development, FUEL will present players with an astonishing no-boundaries playfield that’s over 5,000 square miles (14,000+ km²) in size. Creating the ultimate competitive go-anywhere racing experience, FUEL will have players competing across wildly different terrain and executing spectacular death-defying stunts as they race dozens of varied two and four-wheeled rides and explore this epic world on an unprecedented scale.

FUEL is set in an alternate present in which whole swathes of the globe have been ravaged by the effects of climate change brought on by decades of environmental abuse. Here oil prices have rocketed and yet a new breed of racing junkie takes to the wastelands, pitting their grungy home-tuned vehicles against each other in an all-new extreme sport as they compete to win fuel supplies. To triumph means travelling the wastelands to challenge the best; from the tsunami-wrecked pacific coast through the Nevada wastelands, including the Grand Canyon, up treacherous snow-capped mountains, thick forests, arid deserts, abandoned lakeside resorts and much more.

Bringing this vast, open ended landscape to life is a dynamic weather system with full day and night transitions, brilliant sunshine, torrential rain and everything in between, plus destructive tornados, sandstorms, thunderstorms, lightning strikes, and blizzards requiring mid-race strategy changes.

“FUEL raises the bar in terms of scale and exhilaration for racing games. We begin with the largest racing environment to appear in gaming – ever. With our accelerated effects of climate change and dynamic weather system we add an extra dimension that change races on-the-fly and constantly presents new challenges to players,” said Sebastian Wloch, Chief Executive Officer, Asobo Studios.

“Player choice lies at the heart of FUEL’s action-packed races and with a huge range of vehicles, packs of up to 16 vehicles speeding across diverse terrain and a no-boundaries, no-limits approach to racing, means players have never had so much freedom to conquer the wilderness and take the chequered flag.”

“The technology Asobo Studios has developed to build FUEL is ground-breaking. To create a game on this unprecedented scale to this level of graphical quality, complete with all the dynamic weather effects, is a great achievement,” said Barry Jafrato, Senior Vice President of Brand, Codemasters. “FUEL had to be a special title for Codemasters to include in our racing portfolio and we believe that from both a gameplay and a technical perspective, FUEL compliments our long standing tradition of driving excellence.”

Complete with the ability to go online to explore this massive world and compete in hundreds of multiplayer challenges, FUEL is coming in 2009 for the PLAYSTATION®3 system, Xbox 360 and Games For Windows. More on FUEL will be revealed from Games Convention Leipzig (20 – 24th August, 2008).

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30 Comments »

  1. suchchoices says:

    I’m reminded of Powerslide. Doesn’t sound like you get to win fruit in this one though :(

  2. Mang says:

    Eurogamer has a developer video up here http://www.eurogamer.net/tv_video.php?playlist_id=13261
    with some in-game stuff visible there too.

  3. caramelcarrot says:

    Has anyone noticed that GRID is almost DIRT spelt backwards.

    Makes you think…

    (yes I’m stretching)

  4. Theory says:

    I called another game pre-apocalyptic once, but I just can’t remember what it was and it’s really irritating me. :x

  5. Forceflow says:

    “but recoloured into Next-Generation Brown by me”

    Set lasers to brownies.

  6. Schtee says:

    Asbo studios!

  7. Dreamhacker says:

    Give me a post-apoc Flatout and I’ll be content for the rest of my life*.

    (*or until the sequel comes out, whichever comes first really)

  8. El Stevo says:

    Alec:

    You said it’s a 5000 square metre landscape (respectable), while the press release says 5000 square mile (MAHOOOSIVE!).

  9. Ginger Yellow says:

    5,000 square metres isn’t respectable. It’s 50 metres by 100. You couldn’t even get a car up to full speed in that space.

    “Here oil prices have rocketed and yet a new breed of racing junkie takes to the wastelands, pitting their grungy home-tuned vehicles against each other in an all-new extreme sport as they compete to win fuel supplies.”

    These racing junkies aren’t very bright, obviously.

  10. Larington says:

    Can’t remember where I read this, but apparently the devs for this have been using their admittedly impressive sales from their other games to fund whats described as their “dream project”, sounds like passion is behind this so its likely to be very good.

  11. El Stevo says:

    Oh, that’s true. Duh.

  12. Jim Rossignol says:

    This sounds excellent.

  13. hydra9 says:

    Sounds awesome.

  14. Yann Best says:

    This actually reminds me a lot of 1nsane, if anyone remembers that. It was a fantastic game, so that’s certainly not a bad thing – 1nsane on a single giant map would’ve been awesome. Colour me interested.

  15. Maximum Fish says:

    Climate change and oil prices? Seriously? The gameplay sounds fine, but this pretendo-topical crap is lame. It’s bad enough in movies…

  16. KruddMan says:

    Interstate 76. That series gets no attention these days. Vigilante 8? Who cares about Vigilante 8!

  17. nakke says:

    Too bad the driving model will still suck :(

    Or, well, “suck” is a bit harsh. Let’s just say I’d like there to be a realistic driving model too.

    You’ve got to give Codemasters credit for being able to build up a massive amount of hype, though.

  18. Alex says:

    How do you do racing without a track? Surely the person that makes the tightest circle wins?

  19. Theory says:

    Point to point of course, Alex.

    Edit: I remembered what I called pre-apocalyptic: Children of Men. Now I’ll be able to sleep tonight (at least once I’m done with the TF2 update).

  20. ikigeg says:

    I’m always left wondering the benefit of an open-world racing game… surely AI will just be looking for the ‘as the crow flies’ route while your left playing catch-up to them, seeing lots of beautiful scenery and weather effects pass you by, without the time to actually appreciate them.

    I like the concept, but won’t this just end up being burnout paradise without the cityscape – consequently none of the hair-raising near car collisions? Unless of course they fill the landscape with herds of animals… something akin to jurassic park 3 where they are driving amongst all the dinosaurs for the first time… mmmm dino-racing, now that would be cool :)

  21. simbo says:

    I loved Interstate ’76. The music was superb, written by Arion Salazar of Third Eye Blind.

  22. Mike says:

    Um…is the strikethrough from “metre” on to the end intentional?

  23. K says:

    I hadn’t seen that extended Dawn of War 2 trailer before. Tyranids, yay!

    I have also never been interested in a racing game, until now. But I’d like more guns.

  24. Howard says:

    So… um…? Motorstorm on PC then, yeah?

    Not a bad thing as long as it is done well…

  25. rez says:

    Motorstorm the way it should’ve been. This could be tricky to make fun, but if they pull it off…

    Jebus.

  26. spd from Russia says:

    ok, huge seamless world to drive around. thats only one USP, (and not a very unique one) is that all?

  27. Dr_demento says:

    Open-world point-to-point across a huge map, with many routes and any number of different cars? Sounds a hell of a lot like PS2 exclusive Smuggler’s Run, which was AWESOME. Glad to hear they’re trying to bring it back..

  28. roryok says:

    Has anyone noticed that GRID is almost DIRT spelt backwards.

    Makes you think…

    (yes I’m stretching)

    And FUEL is almost LEAF spelt backwards….

    scary…

  29. Yhancik says:

    Somewhat it reminds me of POD, and Asobo being french developers, I wouldn’t be surprised that it’s an influence (as it also influences Trackmania).

    POD also was kind of pre-apocalyptic, and with multiple routes on some tracks.
    Since POD was the only racing game I really liked (with Flatout 2), I’m definitely looking forward (without hoping much.. it’s so easy to ruin a racing game).