The Fast and the Furious movies have helped push the illegal street racing scene into the forefront, especially in video games. Surprisingly, with the exception of a 2006 PS2 title loosly based on the horrible Tokyo Drift, we’ve not experienced a game that managed to replicate what the franchise is known for — suped-up cars and ridiculous stunts. When I learned that Activision would be releasing a prequel-ish video game alongside the theatrical release of Fast and Furious 6, my expectations were rather low due to the horrible track record of movie tie-in titles. Even my low expectations could not prepare me for what I was about to experience. Fast & Furious: Showdown falls short in nearly every department.
Composed of 30 missions spread across multiple films, you’ll participate in street races, drifting events, weapons-based action sequences, and insane stunts within horribly textured locales like Tokyo, Rio de Janeiro and Los Angeles. Levels are lifeless and are full of badly textured surfaces. Look off into the background while driving in Rio de Janeiro and you will see mountainsides adored with stretched out textures or race on the LA freeway and you will witness the course being drawn in as you progress. Between the unpolished graphics and the horrible draw distance, it is easy to mistaken this title as a PS2 launch title. Sadly, this is just the tip of the iceberg for what is wrong with Fast & Furious: Showdown.
Most missions involve little more than making it from point A to point B, with you switching between driving and shooting amongst two characters. Whichever character you are not controlling will be handled by the game’s pathetic AI, or if you have a buddy nearby, he/she can join via splitscreen to be tortured alongside you. Behind the wheel, your AI controlled partner will constantly slam into walls or hazards, but have them handle the shooting and they’ll hit their mark. Which is a plus since the shooting controls are clunky and loose. Driving your vehicle is hampered by poor collision detection and the game’s non-existent driving physics. It’s aggravating to constantly fail when the game doesn’t accommodate the tight controls for the precision it expects.
In a scene from the recent movie, you drive through the streets with a souped up racing car with the ability to catapult automobiles on contact due to it low inclined nose. But no matter which type of vehicle you hit, they will launch high into the air as if they were made out of cardboard. The wonky physics are even more evident during the vault stealing scene from Fast 5. Dragging a bank vault through the lifeless streets of Rio de Janeiro, I watched as I took sharp turns and the vault flew over my car, causing no disturbance my momentum. I’ve played my fair share of driving games and never have I witnessed such ridiculous physics. Leaving me to wonder, was this game even tested before it was launched?
Continuing the downward sprial, the difficulty for each mission is completely unbalanced. During races, you will be subjected to relentless rubber-banding as opponents that have crashed into a wall instantly overtake your position. Occasionally you will be subjected to quick-time heist events where your character will leap onto other cars, but those moments are tedious and flawed. In between missions there are stiffly animated cinematics that explain the jumbled story. Although a handful of the actors and actresses lend their likeness and provide emotionless voice-overs, Vin Diesel has chosen not to be a part of the package. He may not be the best actor or singer, but as a gamer and owner of his own studio, he was wise enough not to associate himself with this title.
In addition to your primary goal, there are also secondary objectives to complete and a XP leveling system the leads to customization options like upgrades, colors and decals, but you will honestly not care about these features. The game can easily be beaten in under three hours, and if you choose you can move onto the challenge modes. These scenarios showed promise, like surviving pursuers, “stylishly” wrecking your vehicles or eliminating opponents with a particular vehicles, but Showdown’s long list bugs and glitches makes it difficult to enjoy.
Fast & Furious: Showdown is a perfect example of a movie tie-in video game that seeks to cash in on the hype generated by the theatrical release of the movie. With no redeeming qualities, there are better titles available that deserve your $40.
Editor’s Note: Fast & Furious: Showdown was reviewed using a PS3 copy of the game. If further investigation reveals any significant differences between the 360, Wii U, and PS3 edition of the game, this review will be updated to reflect those differences.