By Richard Li 03/01/2007 Babes, money, and cars. Apparently for THQ, these are core fundamentals empowering the import-racing scene -- a culture based on pimpin' your ride until it becomes the flashiest and fastest car in the 'hood. Juiced 2: Hot Import Nights hopes to mirror this fervent enthusiasm, taking the best parts of the scene -- the customization, the racing, and, uh, the babes -- and connecting racers in an online racing world.

And this world looks strangely familiar. Inspired by the bustling streets of major cities, such as Tokyo, Paris and London, the tracks take the cities' inherent personalities, carving an intricate web of tracks on which to race. On display at tonight's press event was a level molded after the busy streets of London, its landmarks and buildings nestled in the background. The streets aren't as narrow as the ones found in London, but are wide enough for cars to drift wildly from one corner to the other.

[Click the image above to check out all Juiced 2 screens.]

In fact, drifting seems to be one of the main selling points of the game. In an ode to Sega Rally Championship, the superb rally game by Sega Rosso, the cars easily handle hair-pin turns by setting their wheels for a drift, sliding effortlessly across the road. Like Project Gotham Racing, Juiced 2 enforces a points-based model that rewards players on the frequency and duration of a drift. The more you drift, the more points you'll receive. One challenge made specifically to test a player's drifting skills requires the car to drift for each turn.

Customization is a big part of the gameplay, too. Players can obsessively ponder every detail about their cars, modifying for looks and performance. Some of the exterior options include swapping the car's body kit, changing the rims, the wheels, or the racing wing. And expect to see real-life name brands like Momo, makers of racing steering wheels, plastered on the equipment.

Your car isn't the only thing you can change. Every racer has the ability to sculpt their appearance, changing the face and body type, to create a virtual persona -- a personal avatar used throughout the game and in online matches.

The online component places an emphasis on betting, in which the competing racers bet a specified amount of money on who wins the match. And the ultimate bet? Their cars. Sucks to be that loser.

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