The Fast and the Furious PlayStation 2
Published by: Namco Bandai
Developed by: Eutechnyx
Release Date: Out Now
Over the last few years the Need For Speed series has gone 'underground' and provided us with plenty of night time street racing as well as the ability to tweak and customise the cars to our hearts content. For the most part the Need For Speed games have been really enjoyable and it's no surprise to see each release head to the top of the game sales charts. It's a tough ask then for any game to go up against the ever popular NFS series but that's exactly what The Fast and the Furious is attempting to do. Let's see how it shapes up.
Loosely basing itself on the movie, The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift, the game focuses on the underground world of drift racing. The game offers a Career mode and Multiplayer races. The multiplayer races can either be played offline (split-screen for two players) and online for up to four players. Most of your time will be spent with the single-player Career mode. You'll begin by having to win a race with a borrowed car. Should you win the race (which is a doddle) you'll get $18,000 with which to purchase your own car. Once you have your own car you'll get to cruise the Wangan (Tokyo's bayside motorway system) either looking for opponents or crews to defeat (taking on each crew member one at a time). Some races also take place in the Touge, which is full of twisty roads that are perfect for drifting.
One area where The Fast and Furious is lacking is that the races just aren't that enjoyable. There are various race types such as drift battles, grip battles, destination battles and top speed battles and such like but none of these are particularly exciting. Having only one opponent to race against in these races doesn't exactly make for a dramatic affair. Sure it does add a duel-like quality to each race but it becomes cumbersome after a while and you start to wish you had at least five opponents to make things interesting. It's also worth pointing out that only a few of the cars you can begin with are actually any good and will enable you to win early events. It's also possible to do the early event over and over again to rake in cash and purchase a powerful car that will allow you to sail pretty effortlessly through the bulk of the game, which seems a little strange.
Those looking for a large range of automobiles to be present in The Fast and the Furious will certainly be impressed with what's on offer. In total there are nearly 100 tune, muscle and concept cars in the game. There are plenty of cars from the likes of Toyota, Subaru, Nissan, Mitsubishi, Mazda and Lexus. It's not all about Japanese cars though. Some American manufacturers, such as Corvette and Ford are represented. As with most games of this type you'll be able to tune your car to increase performance and customise the look of the vehicle. In fairness the customisation options are a little limited in comparison to some of the games out there but there are 250 body kits available from official JDM (Japanese Domestic Market) companies, which is quite impressive.
It's important for racing titles to give a good sensation of speed. If it really feels like you're moving quickly then the racing becomes much more interesting and immersive. Unfortunately it never really feels like you're moving that quickly in The Fast and the Furious. Whilst the frame rate doesn't fluctuate that much it does appear to be on the low side and racing at 100mph often feels like you're going at 30mph instead. On the plus side the car models look OK although there is no damage modelling which is disappointing. The perpetually dark Tokyo looks OK although seeing as you'll spend your time racing on the motorway system rather than driving through the streets you're always at a distance from anything of significant detail. There are some nice blurring effects when travelling at speed, which makes the low frame rate even more annoying, but on the whole it's a good looking game. The game's load times are on the long side, which can be a test of patience.
Support for deaf gamers in The Fast and Furious is spotty to say the least. Certain elements are subtitled, such as the introductory cutscene but there is a fair bit of dialogue here that isn't subtitled. Does this make the game difficult to play for deaf gamers? In truth it's not much of an obstacle as all the essential information is shown in text. There are some tutorial messages that aren't shown in text however, which does seem odd but for the most part you won't have any problems. The manual pretty much compensates for any missing information although this isn't an ideal state of affairs.
The real problem with The Fast and the Furious isn't that the frame rate is rather poor or that it lacks variety, or even that it's not as deaf gamer friendly as it should be. In fact the real problem is that there are already better games out there that are much better. Pick any of the NFS games from the last few years and you have a more enjoyable experience that will keep you occupied for much longer. Of course if you have played all of the recent NFS games, and others of that type, then you may wish to give The Fast and the Furious a try but others should definitely look at the better options.
To put it simply, The Fast and the Furious can best be described as an OK game that doesn't really do anything to impress. The problem is that there are quite a few games of this type that are better and that have been out quite a while (and are therefore now available at a cheaper price).