Ever since The Fast and the Furious was introduced to the world with the first film in 2001 and slowly grew into the worldwide phenomenon it has become, many have long since drawn parallels between the movies and video games, thanks to their high octane driving and over-the-top set pieces, particularly after the film series became more action-focused starting with Fast Five. Multiple attempts have been made to attempt to replicate the success of this multi-billion dollar grossing franchise on gaming devices, with a primary focus on mobile outside of two console releases: The Fast and the Furious in 2006, and Fast & Furious: Showdown in 2013, neither of which received more than middling praise from critics and fans alike. Earlier this month at the Game Awards, the final reveal of the night was saved for Fast and Furious Crossroads, as movie stars Vin Diesel and Michelle Rodriguez came on stage to introduce the world to the latest attempt at a Fast and Furious game adaptation that would tie in with the release of the ninth film this summer. Backed by Slightly Mad Studios, who have experience with Need for Speed and their own self-published Project Cars titles, Fast and Furious Crossroads has the potential to succeed where others have failed, particularly if they draw on several key elements that have made the film series so successful for almost two decades.
Unlike the previous two console releases, Fast and Furious Crossroads will include several of the actors from the films reprising their roles, with Diesel and Rodriguez being accompanied by Tyrese Gibson to portray Dominic Toretto, Letty Ortiz and Roman Pearce within the game. The three will be joined by new actors Sonequa Martin-Green and Asia Kate Dillon within the campaign mode, offering the opportunity to expand the universe while also adding new depth to the already-established personalities. While the characters within these films may live their lives a quarter mile at a time, what originally made them relate to audience members was their fondness for the concept of family, which isn’t necessarily those that you are related to by blood, but those that would have your back under any circumstance. This focus on the importance of close friends and self-made families has continued throughout the years and kept even the films’ most over-the-top scenes feeling grounded as you understand their underlying motivations. Particularly within the newly-introduced characters, establishing this empathetic theme as paramount to the campaign’s story will go a long way towards making Crossroads feel like an authentic Fast and Furious experience.
Cars as Personalities
Even those who have yet to see a Fast and Furious film will often associate the franchise with their obsession with cars, with each new film attempting to outdo the last with speedier and more expensive vehicles that will eventually be tossed out of planes or drive alongside speeding submarines. As fans have come to better understand the core cast of characters, their vehicles have become equally iconic, as Dom Toretto’s Dodge Charger or his sister Mia’s Acura NSX, among others, continue to make recurring appearances alongside their drivers. The creators of the film clearly put some thought into each character’s vehicle of choice, as their personalities are often reflected within the appearances and driving styles of their signature rides, a key concept that also frequently appears in racing games, as players express themselves in creative ways and choose the cars that best suit their playstyle. Offering a deep amount of progression and customization for the player’s vehicle in the single and multiplayer of Crossroads will go a long way toward capturing that bond that the Fast and Furious films hold so dear between driver and vehicle.
Over the years, the Fast and Furious films have undergone quite an evolution in scope and budget. Originally focused on street races, 2011’s Fast Five signaled a shift into large-scale action, as heists and explosions became more commonplace and the local streets were traded in for a more global approach. Since the last console Fast and Furious game came out before this new trend was truly apparent, Crossroads has a unique opportunity to take advantage of this thematic change, and the debut trailer seems to indicate it will, referring to the title as a “team-based, vehicular-heist action game” as opposed to a traditional racing game. The best movies after this shift, however, maintained the key ideals that helped audiences get behind the original cast in the first place, and still left room for quieter character moments and more traditional drag races. Slightly Mad Studios would do well to keep that in mind if they hope to have Crossroads truly capture what makes the Fast and Furious films so popular and we’ll see if they can succeed on that task when Fast and Furious Crossroads hits the gas in May for PS4, Xbox One and PC.