Go back to Juiced 2: Hot Import Nights

Written by: Rik

Date posted: April 11, 2016

After finishing Juiced 2 I felt inclined to go back a few years and have another quick look at some earlier street racing games, because a) I do sometimes like to check that before I say something like, “this isn’t as good as Need for Speed Underground” that I’m not talking a load of old bollocks and b) I wondered whether I actually just getting a bit fatigued with the genre and was subconsciously taking it out on HIN.

Sometimes when you revisit a game after a number of years, you wonder why you ever got stuck wherever you did, and that was my experience with Underground. Initially intending only to check whether it still held up ok, I ended up blazing through the remainder of the career mode and had a jolly good time doing so. The handling has some weight, there’s a noticeable difference between the various cars, and the thrills so desperately lacking in Juiced 2 are immediately obvious. Yes, the rubber band AI can be kind of infuriating, but once you accept how it works (especially: never make a mistake on the final lap) you kind of accept it.

It still looks good, too, although all the motion blur does make it a little soupy at high speeds (you can turn this off or up the resolution but then what you gain in clarity detracts from the overall visual effect). The structure is also remarkably free of bullshit, and both car customisation and macho-posturing story elements are rather minimal in comparison to later games.

Midnight Club 2, meanwhile, is an example of what happens when you revisit a game after a number of years and not only understand exactly why you didn’t get to the end, but also wonder how you ever got that far in the first place. The graphics never were the best and definitely show their age, and it does feel a bit like you’re just doing the driving bits from Grand Theft Auto III, but it still holds up well. The freedom you’re given during races makes for a much less choreographed feeling than in EA’s effort, and when you win you do genuinely feel as if you’re a master of the city’s streets, rather than someone who’s ploughed through a thousand extremely similar circuit races. It’s bloody hard though.

In summary: I don’t think I was prejudiced against Juiced 2 – it really doesn’t stand up to either of these (significantly older) efforts, both of which have aged pretty well.