The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift PS2 Review

Need for Speed… sorry, The Fast and The Furious, is based upon the series of embarrassingly ‘MTV’ movies, each one playing like one long music video full of fast cars, fake women and arrogant alpha males. The slightly homo-erotic undertones actually make them watchable as sexual-tension-filled same-sex love stories; but as the high adrenaline speedfests they claim to be, they only just scrape by and are bettered by many that came before it. Now, not to give my hand away too early, but that is actually a pretty fitting description of the game too.

There are a lot of cars in TFATF; more cars than Jeremy Clarkson’s ultimate spaff-dream (a point hammered home by the half dozen or so unskippable ads that appear when you start the game). As per other titles in the genre, you start with a rather modest motor and race for money to buy upgrades and eventually, bigger and better cars. Customizing cars into super-fast, multi-spoilered beasts is a big part of the films and therefore features heavily in the game. As well as various performance tweaks, you can purchase aesthetic changes, such as new paint jobs, sticker kits, neon lights and a plethora of other things to turn your chosen car into the kind of garish nightmare that the Burberry hat wearing inhabitants of your local McDonalds car park on a Friday night will mug you and sell your DS at Cash Converters for.

Despite this, ‘pimping’ one’s ride is actually pretty good fun, and let’s be fair here, it’s hard to dislike a Volvo that you have painted hot pink, covered in lights and plastered a gigantic tribal dragon onto the bonnet. Tacky, sure, but on the streets of Tokyo – where it counts – it gets you respect.

Once you’ve got yourself looking the part, its time to head out onto Tokyo’s infamous Wangan Highway – a road captured in many games as home to many a street racer, most famously Maximum Tune. It acts as a hub system to all of the garages, tune shops and racing hotspots, though driving up and down these grey corridor highways gets dull fast and before long you will find yourself using the handy ‘teleport to location’ option. When you find yourself some competition, it’s time to race and win some respect and money. Unfortunately, this is where The Fast and The Furious starts to look more like The Slow and The Retarded.

For a game based on a film known for its slick, fast paced action (and of course, man-on-man love) there is an awful lot of slowdown. Now, I’m no expert on cars, so I couldn’t truly tell if it was some expensive feature of my motor that was causing a ‘slo-mo effect’ every time I found a particularly busy section of the highway or whether it really was a horrendous drop in the framerate.

The steering system is quite a strange one – the drift mechanics work surprisingly well, allowing for some rubber-burning slides much like Ridge Racer. Obviously, this is no bad thing. However, the actual handling is twitchy (in no small part thanks to the Dual Shock 2’s analogue dead zones) meaning it is much easier to throw your car around corners rather than carefully navigate them. It’s a strange oversight and one that causes a few problems, as not every corner can be successfully drifted around.

The presentation of the game is also highly questionable. Visually, the game is one huge contradiction. Tokyo as a backdrop is full of bright neon yet the road itself is dark and murky – making it especially difficult to follow the road ahead at times. The sound, however, is utter rubbish. The engine sound is a passable buzz, but the combination of some truly woeful ‘urban’ music and one of the most annoying commentators in racing game history – and believe me when I say that is no mean feat – who butchers the English language to appear cool and ‘down wit’ da kidz, innit’.

No. No it isn’t.

There is an online multiplayer mode, but this reviewer’s attempts at trying out the online content were scuppered by the fact that NO ONE WAS PLAYING IT. As you can imagine, this made online racing an impossibility, although I don’t blame anyone for having better things to do with their time.

The Fast and The Furious, despite being a racer, is just like most other movie licenses. It’s a mediocre title without any true innovation relying on the name alone to sell, and I’m fairly sure people stopped caring about the movie quite some time ago. It’s a huge irony really, as Need for Speed Underground was hugely influenced by the style of the original film, while this is just a fairly shameless rehash of that EA title. Funny how things work out, isn’t it?

The PS2 racing game market is absolutely packed with titles like this and because of this, it is perhaps deservedly destined to be lost in the shuffle. High speed thrill seekers are better served by Burnout 3 and car-obsessed gear heads will find all they need in the near perfect car-gasm Gran Turismo 4 offers. Why you’d pick this above those two games is anyone’s guess. Sadly, The Fast and The Furious is so average and unmemorable I’m not even going to bother finishing this review properly.

Nowhere near as fast and as furious as it would like to be.

4.5 out of 10

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