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[3/6/2020] Juiced 2 is arcade done right

Woah, it's been a while! How have you been? Hopefully good! So, recently i bought me a bunch of games. Juiced 2, Dead Rising 2, Test Drive Unlimited 2 and Saints Row 4. I'm likely not going to cover Saints Row any time soon and if i do, it's likely going to be one big series retrospective. Same with Dead Rising. TDU2 and Juiced 2 however, are games i intend to cover soon! TDU2 might be a while due to the sheer length of it so for now, Juiced! So, obligatory background... I never really liked Juiced 1. It had a lot of interesting and cool concepts behind it but it never gripped me enough to keep me playing more than a few hours, that and the calendar based progression system was weird and got a tad confusing after a while. Juiced 2 however, says a hearty "screw you" to everything the original introduced and goes a completely different route, this time being something that almost resembles a festival racer but this time it's actually good.

Juiced 2 is a circuit based racing game. That's really it. There are several different types of circuit race modes such regular circuit racing, Last Man Standing, which eliminates you if you touch a wall, Eliminator which eliminates you if you finish a lap in last place, and a few other modes scattered throughout the game. In addition to circuit, there is also drift racing with several of it's own modes such as Endurance, which sees you keeping one continuous drift combo which finishes the race if it breaks. Despite my half-assed explanations, there is actually a surprising amount of variety which keeps the game exciting for a decent amount of time. Racing isn't the only thing you end up doing during the game, as you can also bet on races which, while you don't participate in, you can have an impact in the outcome by either booing racers (making them lose all of their nitrous), or cheering them (which gives them a full tank. this system is incredibly broken if you know some good strats. It's surprisingly low risk, helped in part with how much money you gain throughout playing. Simply put, you start with $100,000 which is waaay more than enough for a starter car, and then you earn much much more. This abundance of money means that you'll never be in any sort of financial stress which is a blessing and a curse depending on how much of a risk-taker/gambler you are.

Handling in juiced 2 is pretty decent. It's incredibly arcadey, to the point where i don't actually think theres a modern example to compare it too. Steering is easy however, it does sometimes feel a tad too direct and sensitive with your car veering off even as a result of the slightest movement of the analogue stick. It should also be noted that there is a different handling model between regular race modes and drift events. The drift handling makes anything slide as if it were on butter. Not too difficult to control but it can sometimes be an annoyance if you're going for a ridiculously high continuous combo. Overall however, handling generally feels decent. It's arcade done right, something that you don't see nowadays. On the topic of things you don't see nowadays, car list. Juiced 2 has cars aplenty. A lot of what you'd mostly expect for a game like this, your supras, your skylines, some supercars (with exception of Lamborghini and Ferrari but oh well!), as well as having some uncommon additions. When's the last time you've seen a XR8 Ford Falcon in a game that isn't explicitly set in Australia? In this regard, juiced 2 also does very well. It may not strictly be the best car selection on earth, Forza owns that crown, it still has a wide and varied selection considering the JDM type themes the game is working with.

As with everything on this earth, there's always a bad side. I'm going to be very direct in saying this. Juiced 2's campaign mode is redundant. All it does is serve as a sense of progression. There's not all too much to work towards other than driving a really fast car. I personally got to League 2 before I gave up. Don't get me wrong, the game itself is great fun and i did enjoy the time leading up to me giving up but eventually the concept that you're only racing for the sake of racing hits HARD. There's no plot, no drama between characters, no cut scenes, no reason to keep going on. The only other negative is the AI. The AI rubber band in a way so obvious that even a toddler could tell. Unlike Midnight Club LA, Juiced 2 opts to rubber band both ways, so the AI slow to a halt when you're too far back but also power forward with the might of 1000 fighter jets when you're too far ahead. This makes the races somewhat predictable and some "campaign" goals a bit difficult to achieve. Trying to win a race with a 1 second lead is difficult when the AI can barely decide how fast their car actually is. This rubber banding barely serves to make the game difficult either. I, someone who is admittedly really bad at videogames, had little to no trouble with the main events. Shame...

Overall, Juiced 2 is pretty good. Not the best but also not the worst. It's some of the best pure arcade action that you can get on console (that i know of, at least). It can be found for as little as $15 aud for 7th gen versions and as low as $5 aud for 6th gen/portable versions! For that much, it's worth a go even without intention of completing it.