Fast & Furious Review

Remember when Vin Diesel and Paul Walker had movie careers? They seemed to be the hot new action heroes of the new millennium. Then The Pacifier happened, and now, nothing. Funny how that works.

Now that these two are back doing what made them movie stars, starring in Fast & Furious, out in theaters today, the folks over at Universal have unleashed the marketing beast with a tie-in title from I-Play for iDevices. Commercialism aside, Fast & Furious is actually a pretty good racing game.

Obviously, this is a racing game, so the priorities of Fast & Furious are the cars and driveability, both of which it does very well. There’s a good variety of import models and good ole’ American muscle, each with their own handling characteristics. Tracks are designed to take advantage of each car’s particular strengths, such as drag racing or drifting, so smart car selection carries quite a bit of weight on the course.

At the risk of giving away too much of the movie for those of you who plan on seeing it, the tanker scene from the trailer is a great example of how the game uses the plot and car choice to design a fantastic track in the story mode. Car selection is increased — or decreased — through “pink-slipping,” or betting your car, so winning is paramount.

The immortal Dominic Torretto explained it perfectly in the first movie: “Ask any racer, any real racer. It doesn’t matter if you win by an inch or a mile; winning’s winning.” Ah, cinematic gold!

Driving is handled with the accelerometer, both steering and acceleration, and braking and the nitrous boost are tied to touch buttons. Handling is pretty smooth, aside from drifting. The fine touch required for drifting, compared to console games, seems to ask too much of the platform.

Besides a basic quick play mode, there is a story mode that follows the plot of the movie. Largely based on mission-type driving, such as stealing the tanker, drag racing, drifting and reaction mini-games, this is where a lot of the more creative driving happens. There also is a “Compete Online” mode, which isn’t a competition against another person, per se, but rather an online leaderboard based on times and scores. Head-to-head competition is offered through the Wi-Fi multiplayer mode.

One of the cooler features is the ability to upload YouTube replays. Granted, this has viral marketing written all over it, and it’s a novelty gimmick for sure, but it’s definitely a feature that a lot of games could adopt in the future. (Scroll down to see replays of this reviewer crash into walls!)

Fast & Furious is a solid racing title that is easily on par with the others in the genre, even if it is seriously lacking in the Vin Diesel one-liner department. Then again, too much of a good thing is never healthy!

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