From a series that started out as a humble street racer and heist film, to a multi-billion dollar franchise, where Toretto can casually projectile throw himself like Superman… Yeah, I still call shenanigans on that one, comes a racing/adventure game that looks to shake off the movie tie-in stigma these products are known for.
At first glance, this game seems unimpressive visually or mechanically, especially in the trailers. So I wasn’t exactly sure what I was getting myself into with this title… But after playing through it, I could really feel the attention to detail and series lore that Slightly Mad Studios permeated throughout Crossroads. There’s a real, genuine understanding of the source material. The way they crafted the gameplay mechanics and scenarios very much fits the tone and atmosphere of the modern Fast films.
Working in close collaboration with Universal and the Fast and Furious crew, Slightly Mad Studios incorporated a tonne of in-series references and scenario set-ups that fans will recognise. Like when Brian and Toretto stole cars oﬀ a speeding train in Fast Five, albeit presented in a different format this time around.
Some of the iconic cars from the movies return too. The Chevrolet Yenko Camaro that was smashed up at the end of 2 Fast 2 Furious now has a new-found restoration in Crossroads, and several recognisable vehicles like the 1970 Dodge Charger and Ford GT make a much-welcomed appearance. They also got Vin Diesel, Michelle Rodriguez and Tyrese Gibson to reprise their roles from the films.
The game itself is heavily story focused and straightforward. Don’t expect to be picking up side missions or free-roaming a massive world map akin to GTA, it’s more about playing through big, spectacle set-pieces in a linear progression. The protagonists are involved in street races, taking down opposing vehicles, hacking machines, escaping from dangerous locales and so forth.
Driving fast is the name of the game here and that’s virtually all you’ll be doing, but this isn’t a negative at all. Since the developers at Simply Mad Studios make racing games exceedingly well! Transitioning from the finely-tuned, technical controls of Project Cars, Crossroads gives off a more arcade-like approach in its steering and physics to accommodate for Fast and Furious’ over-the-top approach.
The playable drivers all use NOS for a short burst of pace, bump into parallel cars for take-downs – extremely satisfying! And use unique, character-specific gadgets such as the harpoon for newcomer, Vienna. It’s really fun trying to latch onto an enemy vehicle, whilst chasing them down at top speeds. It adds an almost, strategic element into the mix, since you can switch between characters on the fly and delegate who’ll be the most useful in each situation.
There can be a lot of drivers on screen sometimes, which can cause you to lock-on to the wrong target occasionally, but it’s nothing too major. You’ll more likely find yourself sprinting ahead of your prey and then awkwardly waiting for them to catch up. This can throw you a bit off-course, as concentrating over your shoulder to line your vehicle up is almost counter-intuitive to driving at 200km/h, but I can’t really fault the game itself for that.
The steering is very reminiscent of GTA: Vice City’s, and is quite easy to acclimate to. Crossroads is rather forgiving as well; races aren’t too difficult to win and if you fall off the map or go out of bounds, you’ll just be returned to a close-by location. Strangely enough, your character will usually find themselves placed in an advantageous position, upon restart. You’ll be blazing through the street races and cities, being made even more user-friendly with the yellow direction arrows from Project Cars. Along those lines, there is a fixed path you’re on and you can’t deviate much from it. Although, Crossroads isn’t so much about an open world. Rather being a focused structure where all the action is dead-ahead of you.
The game could’ve benefited from some extra variety, maybe an on-foot shooter section or something, but it’s hard to say. Overall, it comes together surprisingly well. The car models look great! But the characters models specifically could’ve used some work. They look like they’re ripped straight from the previous generation of consoles! And why do some of them look like they have mumps?! I can’t unsee it! However, in regards to the scenery, certain environments are also really eye-catching, even when they can only be seen for a short glimpse whilst flying through them at top speed!
There is not much to say in regards to this title’s story. Newcomers Vienna and Cam are mostly forgettable and the original cast will give you the same type of performances you’ve come to expect. Couple that with a mind-numbingly generic evil-villain-needs-stopping plot, and that’s pretty much the gist of it. Extensive character development and an expansive story is not what you’re getting here, folks. The gameplay is largely centre-stage and the music does help propel it further too. There’s a range of licensed tracks from Hip-Hop, to Latin, Big-Room EDM and more, all fitting the atmosphere and racing-inspired theme competently.
So is it worth picking up Fast and Furious: Crossroads? I’d say yes but I’d honestly recommend waiting for a price drop, as the single-player mode is quite short – I clocked it under 5 hours in one sitting. And the story itself probably isn’t worth additional re-visits either. Although, I didn’t get the chance to review the multiplayer, so this may increase its life-span somewhat, but we’ll have to wait and see how the online community receives the gameplay formula.
Review by Anthony Culinas