While it seems like a perfect fit for the world of videogames, the Fast & Furious franchise has disappointed time and time again.
The latest effort to bring the box office phenomenon to games consoles and PC is by 3DClouds, developer of Xenon Racer, the recent Blaze and the Monster Machines: Axle City Racers, and more. Based on the Netflix animated series, Fast & Furious: Spy Racers Rise of SH1FT3R centres around Tony Toretto, cousin of Dominic Toretto, who’s been recruited by a government agency to infiltrate a criminal organisation that’s using a racing league as a front. Though of course, he’s not alone; he also has a group of friends to back him up.
In Spy Tournament mode, players are tasked with making their way through five missions. The first four are essentially tournaments, with the last being a final showdown against the leader of SH1FT3R – the criminal organisation you’re up against. With four races to complete in each of the four tournaments, plus the final event, there are 17 races to complete overall. I’m sure you’ll agree, that’s not a lot. Still, it’s enjoyable enough while it lasts, and you might return just to earn some additional Yoka coins so you can unlock content for the other modes that are on offer.
As you’d expect, there’s a Quick Race mode and Multiplayer – the latter of which supports online play and local split-screen. Rather handily, online play supports bots, too, so you won’t be locked out of the few online trophies or achievements the game has if no one else is playing. A small number of vehicles are available in these modes initially – just those of Tony and his friends, in fact. Spend Yoka coins in the shop accessible from the main menu, however, and you can unlock the SH1FT3R organisation’s cars, too. There are 13 cars in the game overall, each with their own distinct look and performance stats.
Whichever mode you find yourself in, the action remains the same. Fast & Furious: Spy Racer Rise of SH1FT3R is essentially a kart racer at its core. You race around one of the game’s 17 tracks with the intention of finishing first. With each track having numerous sections where you can take one of multiple routes, working out which is the fastest is often crucial to victory. Unless you’re in a car with terrible handling, most corners can be negotiated without any real trouble, though a few require you to skilfully drift around them. And as you race you generate energy, which can be used to activate a number of special abilities.
Three of the special abilities available in Fast & Furious: Spy Racers Rise of SH1FT3R are common to all vehicles. So, whether you’re in control of Tony and his sleek muscle car or Cisco and his huge chunky vehicle, you’ll be able to fire a paintball gun, drop a paintball mine, or trigger a shot of boost. They require one, two or three units or energy respectively. Each driver and vehicle combination also has a unique skill available when they hit a full four units of energy.
Take control of Layla in her sleek sports car, for example, and you’ll be able to make robotic arms emerge from her vehicle while she boosts, putting any competitors into a spin as she passes them by. Tony’s unique skill, on the other hand, allows him to boost while putting up a protective shield. The energy system adds a bit of strategy to each race, making you question whether you should use some energy to shoot a competitor ahead of you, or save it so you can boost or use your unique skill. Though you don’t need to be frugal; energy charges quite quickly, and performing drifts and jumps also tops it up.
Like any kart racer though, Fast & Furious: Spy Racers Rise of SH1FT3R can be infuriating at times. When you’re in the midst of the pack, attacks can come thick and fast, making you feel like you’re being picked on. Some might find the effect that obscures the screen when you’re hit by a paintball gun or mine a bit obnoxious, too. It obscures your vision perhaps a bit too much, and for a tad too long. The track design doesn’t help with these issues at times, either. One or two tracks have awful choke points where things can get very messy, while others have trackside objects that can stop you in your tracks if you happen to crash into them while you’re blinded.
Primarily aimed at younger gamers who are fans of the animated show, Fast & Furious: Spy Racers Rise of SH1FT3R isn’t likely to wow anybody that plays it. 3DClouds has kept things simple, resulting in a game that fails to provide the high-octane thrills and spills typically associated with the franchise, but is at least functional and entertaining. In the long run, it’s the game’s lack of modes and content that is likely to be its biggest bugbear for most – though at least the sting is lessened a bit by the fact that it’s not a full-priced release. Ultimately, it looks fairly nice, performs well, and is enjoyable to play for the most part. You can’t heap that praise on any other Fast & Furious game released so far.
Fast & Furious: Spy Racers Rise of SH1FT3R Review – GameSpew’s Score