Positive: Healthy single player career, good online elements.
Negative: Different mechanics for drifting and racing, texture pop-in issues, slight car customization issues, and just one performance rating number per car.
Juiced 2: Hot Import Nights doesn’t revolutionize the franchise but includes a large number of modifications when compared to the original 2005 release. Despite the fact that many changes have been included, Juiced 2 still ends up feeling like unfulfilled potential.
The gameplay in Juiced 2 has a personality disorder. Unfortunately, racing and drifting use two completely different mechanics, and what’s worse is that neither of them are executed that well. The core racing feels much too sensitive, and the slightest movement of the analogue stick may sharply send the player’s car in the direction of choice. While this matter is annoying, players will eventually get used to this high level of sensitivity. When playing drift events, the cars in the game will feel completely different than when racing, because the drift tracks feel like ice instead of asphalt. Keeping the car straight becomes a challenge because in certain drift events, the player will need to cross the finish line first.
Some welcome changes to Juiced 2 include: the removal of the calendar-driven event sequence and the fact that players do not have to pay event fees or repair fees. Another addition is “Driver DNA,” which basically explains which racers have which racing style and whether they are “hot” or “cold.” This feature is not completely useless, but does not play a role in the game because it doesn’t really affect driver performance. A good driver with a good DNA has the same chance of finishing last as a bad driver with bad DNA.
While the Driver DNA feature can easily be ignored, there are other questionable aspects that are more apparent. Each car is given only one performance number. There are no classifications for steering, handling etc. Yet another annoying aspect of Juiced 2 is the upgrade system. If a player purchases a new upgrade, deletes it, and wants to use it again, he or she must pay for that upgrade again. A vehicle’s handling ability can also be upgraded, but the performance rating doesn’t feature a handling rating thus making it impossible for the player to see how much of an impact the new upgrade has caused. Performance upgrades and visual upgrades don’t feel like they were well thought out. For example: when trying to add a racing stripe to a vehicle, sometimes one won’t cover the entire length of the car, forcing players to pay for two strips of vinyl.
While the game has many faults, it does have some good to offer. The tracks feel varied with many different kinds of turns and designs. Players also have the ability to customize their character, even though this is a racing game. However, multiplayer is where Juiced 2 really comes out of its shell.
Pink-slip racing certainly breathes some life into Juiced 2 and provides a way of getting vehicles online, or losing your most prized virtual possession. The good about pink-slip races this time around is that when the ownership of cars change, the information is archived. Players can track down who they lost their hard earned cars to, and race for them again. Drivers can also bet money before races, and so can spectators. It should be mentioned that a good friend appears in Juiced 2: offline split-screen multiplayer. With today’s online focused games, it is always good to see games offering some fun split-screen multiplayer.
The game’s visuals are average on most part, but with some notable rough spots and texture pop-in issues. The environments are largely forgettable, and the driver seat camera occasionally treats the player to some very rough or blurry visuals. The game features a flat-out generic club-styled soundtrack, but the cars themselves sound good. While the sound effects may not be top-notch, they are certainly appropriate.
While the images may look good, Juiced 2 does not impress when in motion.
Overall, Juiced 2 feels like it could have benefited greatly from a few more months of development time. With separate racing and drifting mechanics, generally average visuals and an annoying soundtrack, Juiced 2: Hot Import Nights cannot be an honest recommendation at full price. Hardcore Juiced fans will find a lot to enjoy in this racer, but general fans of racing games may just want to save their money on this one.