Early this year, Acclaim lost the publishing rights to the third game in the critically acclaimed (no pun intended), but undersold, Burnout series after developer Criterion bolted for Electronic Arts. But in its upcoming street-racing simulator Juiced, Acclaim already has a potential blockbuster replacement on both the Sony
Though still early in development, Juiced hopes to cash in on the same The Fast and the Furious-inspired popularity of import car tuning and street racing that made EA's Need For Speed: Underground the bestseller this past holiday season. Unlike Burnout, Juiced will feature real licensed cars, including tuner's dreams like the Mazda RX-7, the Toyota
But how will Juiced really differentiate itself? That's the $50 question. For one, it will employ realistic car physics to provide a more lifelike experience compared to the arcade-style racing in NFS. And where NFS sort of skimmed on the aftermarket part-selection process, Juiced looks to allow tuning freaks to pick their parts in greater detail from big names such as HKS, Apex, VeilSide, and Greddy. Also unlike NFS, the Xbox version of Juiced will be online-capable.
Juiced also will allow for physical car damage. That, along with its availability on the Xbox, will set the game apart from Sony's car-lover's dream Gran Turismo. Finally, the game will feature several new tracks, and a new, unique racing mode on top of the basic racing types.
Acclaim isn't known for consistent quality, but early indications are that Juiced could be a major contender. And again, the game is still early in development, and so not all the details are out. We don't even know when it will be released, but we'll keep you posted. If done right, Juiced could be Acclaim's big ticket to success.
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Fool contributor Jeff Hwang owns shares of Electronic Arts and most of the games mentioned in this story.