GAME NAME: Fast and The Furious: Showdown
PLATFORM(S): PS3, Xbox 360, 3DS, Wii U
RELEASE DATE(S): May 21st
If ever there was a movie series that should make an easy transition into a video game, it would be the Fast and the Furious films. The films are basically all about fast cars, wild stunts and Vin Diesel punching people in the face. It’s a very simple concept that would seem rather difficult to mess up since all it would take is Need For Speed: Underground with guns and Vin Diesel’s deep growling voice. Well fasten your seat belts because developers Firebrand want to take you for a high speed joy ride in Fast and The Furious: Showdown; the only problem being that they have no idea what they are doing.
If you have not seen the Fast and the Furious movies, and so feel like you might not understand the story, have no fear; I have seen almost all of the movies and this game’s story still made absolutely no sense to me. Two female FBI agents are talking in a dark room about Dom Torreto’s (Vin Diesel) crew and a new gang of car thieves on the scene; in particular, the agents talk about how close Dom’s gang is, and how they’re like family, while they place pins on a big map on the wall. Each pin represents a heist done by the gang and… Feel like something is missing, because I certainly do. Seriously though, that’s it, there is no back-story and no explanation; just one-liners between the agents as another pin goes onto the map before each new mission begins.
The game’s levels span a few locations from the films. Levels such as Rio let you play out the final heist scene from Fast Five. In the movie, this scene was about two Dodge Chargers dragging a bank vault around Rio while cops gave chase over twenty minutes of high-octane action. In the game, it’s a race against buggy AI with terrible car physics and almost game breaking slowdowns that drop the game to below 10 FPS. And because this level is early on in the game, it sets the tone for the mess you are in store for. Luckily, it’s a short mess of around three hours which, while usually a bad thing, is definitely a positive in this case.
And things continue to go downhill fast and furiously [nice one] after Rio, because you will pretty much repeat the same three activities over and over. You start off with a race where the objective is to come first; then there is a high speed shootout; and lastly you hijack a truck or tanker. The race sections are the worst because the difficulty spikes from simple to borderline impossible; one slow turn or drift around a corner and four opponents speed past you. This leaves you desperately trying to catch up because if you don’t come first you are punished with long, un-skippable cutscenes before each race; these cutscenes will eat at your soul, a little every time. The shootout sections let you choose between driving and shooting, but seeing as though driving is a terrible mechanic, you will want to stay behind the gun. Enemy vehicles will also, occasionally, magically appear a few meters behind you as they chase you and then quickly crash into something thanks to the broken AI, so shooting is optional. Then there is the actual hijacking of vehicles.
Hijacking vehicles basically consists of you taping the A button violently to balance and, repeating the process, to maintain your grip. The whole hijacking concept looks and plays as if it was developed in the last 2 days of dev time and should have been left out completely. Each race and shootout you complete will rewarded you with unlocks to customize your vehicles with. And while, perhaps, a deep customization section could allow for some sort of redemption; sadly, customization has been gimped down to choosing a handful of colors to paint your car, rims and decals with. And the fact that look like they were cooked up in MS paint doesn’t help either.
What we have with Fast and The Furious: Showdown is the very definition of a rushed movie tie-in. The developers picked a few great moments from the movies, butchered them, and then tried to stretch the gameplay out to a measly 3 hours by re-hashing a few simple ideas. Vin Diesel wasn’t even included in the game, but that might be because he actually played it and so didn’t want his name anywhere near it, so you can’t blame the developers for that. However, you can blame them for everything else; everything else being a short, ugly and broken experience that will leave fans of the film very disappointed.