It seems that Street Racing titles with custom vehicle modifications seem to be all the rage these days and for The Fast and the Furious, in principle at least, you could see any of the latter `Need for Speed' titles. I am not in any way saying that The Fast and the Furious is derivative or an addition to an overcrowded market, were it not for the first Fast and the Furious movie release, we may not even be writing this review such was the impact it had in revealing street racing to the minds of the masses. Could this interactive release build on the originality at the time of its movie counterpart or would it tread where Need for Speed as already done so on the console platforms?
Whilst this release has no subtitle, it is actually based on the latest sequel in the Fast and the Furious movie releases - "Tokyo Drift". As you may expect from the title, the street scene is based upon the streets of Tokyo. Did I say streets? Sorry I meant the motorway network, which is somewhat disappointing. In keeping within the general mould of such titles, at the start you announce your arrival on the street circuit by buying a rubbish car with the intention of racing and modifying your "car" to earn you petrolhead cool points and respect. The modifications go into a great level of depth and if this is your thing you should be presently surprised, however if the racing element is your bag or you are a `modding' ignoramus then this may go completely over your head. Whilst the overly frequent loading screens offer titbits of advice, it really won't be enough to draw you in, either to the game or a modicum of understanding.
On to the racing element and you are offered two main racing modes - grip racing and drifting. This basically offers you the choice to go sliding around a track or go dodging traffic, it is up to you. The main problem the game faces relates to finding a car modification that is balanced enough to work well in both areas without having to re-modify your specification before you switch which can become rather cumbersome. So how do the cars feel when driving? Again, slightly unbalanced. The weight and power seem to have been caught to a tee as acceleration feels very natural however cornering becomes a slight issue as the controls seem overly sensitive resulting in random tapping of the direction buttons or analogue stick to avoid over-steer. On top of this, the traction control feels as it is rear wheel based which causes problems of you throw yourself into a corner expecting the back end to slide. Once you have mastered the controls, feel of the cars and progressed slightly through the game, it does tend to become rather easy. Once you have kitted yourself out with a decent auto' complete with nitro's then that seems to be about all you need to win a race. Unfortunately this happens a little too soon to be challenging.
The graphics are dark with interspersed neon street lights which add to the feel and experience of the game but aren't that appealing visually. The cars are passable but the designers seem to have thought that they don't need to put too much thought into way they look if the majority of the game is going to be set at night when it's dark. The soundtrack is okay but as there are what seems to be about ten (at most!) tracks on continuous repeat it gets old fast.
The Fast and the Furious does not really take it's franchise to new level at all. It is quite comfortably an off shoot of the much maligned movie sequels rather than the popular original. What stands out about the game is it feels that it could have been made five years ago rather than now and it has been done before. If you have never played one of these titles it is worth a look but if you have, don't buy it on name alone.
6 out of 10