Have You Played… Fuel?

Have You Played? is an endless stream of game recommendations. One a day, every day of the year, perhaps for all time.

Fuel is not a great game, but it is a great idea. It offers a greatest hits compilation of the United States, letting you drive across a dystopian future version of Nevada’s deserts, Colorado’s rockies and Iowa’s fields.

I love driving games, not racing games. Games which offer me the open road and let me set my own destination like Euro Truck Simulator 2. Fuel gives me that with what at the time were impressively large vistas and weather effects, plus a fast dune buggy to drive instead of a clumsy, jack-knifing truck.

Less impressive at the time was the terrain itself. The scale of it was great, the draw distance was decent, and it half-offered the chance to visit some of America’s most famous vistas, but it was a little more like driving across a barren, haunted dreamscape. This was mostly because, in order to fit that giant map on a DVD, a lot was sacrificed in terms of model density and texture quality, but it has some positive effects on the game as well. The brooding atmosphere is perfect for long journeys; pop on some music, slip into a trance, and plow your way across an expanded Dear Esther.

I hope The Crew will execute on the dream of Fuel with greater skill and precision, but it’s still worth returning to Codemasters’ weird, wandering driving sim, if you can find it.

Want to read more about Fuel? Here’s Jim’s wonderful piece about driving around its world over the course of a single day.

16 Comments

  1. GallonOfAlan says:

    Incredible tech demo with a game nailed on.

  2. Urthman says:

    Can one (legally) play Fuel? This is a little like saying, “You guys should check out No One Lives Forever,” except that NOLF at least still works if you can find some disks.

    • Baggypants says:

      Fuel was available on DVD, check out second hand tat sites. Use with GFWL and an offline profile.

    • Targaff says:

      Greenman Gaming still sells keys for Fuel that you can redeem on Steam, too, sometimes for cheaps. I picked it up after reading Jim’s article and still drop into it every few days – as others have said, you can use xliveless to circumvent the GFWL issue, although you also need to be aware that it also has Securom.

  3. Tusque D'Ivoire says:

    FUEL is still available to play on steam for those who bought it. The bigger question is how to properly get around GFWL (there is a xliveless.dll or something flying around the internet that works with mast games using GFWL). Also the REFUELED mod needs a mention.

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      Grizzly says:

      The Refueled mod makes this game rather intoxicating.

    • Guy Montag says:

      Yes, this mod is essential(ly amazing). I used to drive around with the guy who makes it in the last big group dedicated to the game. It’s a real bummer that the death of GFWL is killing the fun element of this game.

  4. mukuste says:

    Is there an article or some other kind of resource on the best driving (as opposed to racing) games? I like the concept of “immersive driving games”, but it seems to be hard to find games which do it well.

  5. gbrading says:

    I think Fuel still holds the record for the largest single-player open world (not counting Minecraft’s infinity), but that world is uniformly empty and barren. There is absolutely nothing to see or do in it. Fuel was a magnificent idea executed terribly.

  6. OctoStepdad says:

    “I love driving games, not racing games. Games which offer me the open road and let me set my own destination like Euro Truck Simulator 2. Fuel gives me that with what at the time were impressively large vistas and weather effects, plus a fast dune buggy to drive instead of a clumsy, jack-knifing truck.”

    Recently I bought the G27 Racing Wheel and I am having fun with Assetto Corsa, F1 2013, etc.. but I really like playing games such as Euro Truck, Next Car Game,etc.. and I am always looking for “off the racing game track” driving games.

    I haven’t checked it out myself but beamng.drive sounds like a game your wanting. Seems to be like an open world driving simulator. I am really interested in it but I am waiting til atleast I can buy it through steam or full release.

    here’s a video of it below.

  7. SlimShanks says:

    I spent many hours playing this with the Refueled mod, but I spent most of it desperately wishing there was just one vehicle that didn’t feel like poop to drive. I am astonished that anyone could think that the way vehicles handled in this game was ok, and beyond that fit for release.
    However.
    If you drive south towards the city on the west side of the map, you will eventually hit a legitimately large mountain range, and spend about an hour climbing through it. Then, as you crest the final ridge, you look out over a huge cliff that goes about a kilometer down to a giant lake that goes as far as the eye can render. Then you turn east and spend half an hour going down a very steep and windy waterside cliff run, with everything ranging from long straights into back to back hairpins, to long sweeping turns with weird hammerheads partway through. What a fantastic road.
    I would consider myself a serious simmer, especially when it comes to driving. I’ve driven renditions of just about every great track ever made, and I still think longingly of some of the roads in Fuel. If I could only drive something resembling an automobile across that great map…

    • Gargenville says:

      Yeah the first thing that always comes up in (re)appraisals of Fuel is how all that terrain is a bit empty but if you have a good enough driving experience the terrain could be an endless expanse of graphing paper with some cones for a track and it would still be fun. Fuel is more like one of those walking around simulators at 200% speed.

  8. AXAXAXAS MLO II: MLO HARDER says:

    Oh yes, FUEL is beautiful. It’s also barren, but the post-apocalyptic story that’s tacked on gives surprising meaning to the barrenness. It’s a game that’s essentially about how powerful and majestic nature is, while giving it the finger by driving through it in a ATV.

    And the game itself isn’t THAT bad.