With Need for Speed Underground 2 and Midnight Club 3 both at the top of the street racer genre, any challenger doesn’t just have to be good at its game, it has to be very good. Juiced understandably therefore has its work cut out for it. The problem is though, that while on its own Juiced is an admiral effort, up against the two giants it struggles to offer something that the other two haven’t already covered.
The game, like the top two, is based around gaining respect, upgrading and pimping your ride and earning the cash to do so. The career mode sees you opting for different races in the calendar rather than simply driving around to find the races in an open city and then getting out on the track to race.
Depending on the car(s) you own depends on what races you can enter and most come with a hefty entry fee. Those that you can’t enter you can watch and even bet on to garner you extra cash.
Cash seems to be the kingpin of the game. You need to keep your car in working order as well as improving that ride to gain extra respect. Without it the game becomes very dull. The problem however is that it’s very hard to come by. As we’ve mentioned, racing costs money, pimping your ride costs money and the only real way to get any is to either win races (something which gets progressively harder) or to gamble with lady luck.
Races themselves are a combination of races, timed laps, sprints or showoffs where you have to perform sliding tricks. The city races however are more akin to track racing as there is a severe lack of traffic to dodge or track variations to take and because of this you never really get the feeling of illegal racing as you do in Midnight Club 3 or Need for Speed Underground 2.
At the end of each race you are graded by a panel of other crews - it’s a sort of Eurovision all over again and depending on what you did, you earn or lose respect points. Gamble heavily and the gambling addict will love you for it, pimp your ride and the guy from West Coast Customs gets excited, but at no point can we see what the point of this is as it doesn’t seem to have any correlation to your performance. Unlike GTA San Andreas, it’s not like you’re lost in the grip of your surroundings to make it a fun distraction either.
Get past the problems with raising cash and the career mode tootles along in a rather repetitive pace, you race, you win, you fix and upgrade your car, you choose another race and you never really get the feeling you are achieving anything. The tracks don't help the cause either. Just like the gameplay, they are excruciatingly repetitive and because you don't have traffic to dodge or variations of the route to take it's just like racing on the same track over and over again.
That makes Juiced mediocre at best.