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.