It’s All About Family
HIGH It faithfully embodies the spirit of the films…
LOW …Which is definitely not for everyone.
WTF They really thought people were going to play Multiplayer, huh?
To give proper context for this review, readers should know that I am currently working on a powerpoint presentation explaining why the Fast & Furious franchise is the greatest Anime/Superhero work available. It started out as ironic enjoyment of the franchise, but it’s extended into annual rewatches and a genuine love for all things fast and furious, much to the chagrin of my girlfriend. So, if you do not like the films, then skip this review and safely know that the game is not for you.
Fast & Furious: Crossroads is the newest attempt to translate the incoherent, joyous madness of the film franchise — something the previous installment (F&F: Showdown) had no understanding of. In this regard, Crossroads is a vast improvement.
The main story has Dominic Torretto and Letty Ortiz (Vin Diesel and Michelle Rodriguez) stumbling onto a plot in Athens involving the original highway men, the Tadakhul, that leads them to Barcelona, then Morocco, and finally New Orleans. As they go, they pick up newcomers Cameron and Vienna, as well as series staple Roman Pierce (Tyrese Gibson).
The campaign is split up into different types of car-based antics, the first being a satisfyingly explosive chase with an armored vehicle that requires the player to switch between Dom and Letty to take out sections of the vehicle while performing takedowns on the escort cars – the spinouts are satisfying slow-motion destruction.
From there the pace constantly changes. In one scene the player is simply required to drive to a pickup point and fix a car, while another is a more traditional lapped race. Later, Crossroads emulates famous scenes from the films themselves, a standout being Roman Pierce dragging a giant metal ball through a dockland area and using it to smash opposition in tribute to the safe-dragging chase through Rio De Janeiro in Fast 5.
Each character comes with a boost, the ability to sideswipe enemies (a hat tip to Tigon Studios’ previous game The Wheelman) and a special ability like a harpoon, a hacking device, or a rocket launcher. Each has useful applications, and the best moments in Crossroads required me to switch from one character to another while using their unique abilities. Smartly, the devs never dwell on one scenario long enough for it to become boring.
The entire Crossroads campaign is a love letter to the films. Nods are made to previous events, and some lines tie in to next year’s entry. Vienna Cole has the Camaro that Bryan drove onto a boat in 2 Fast 2 Furious, there’s a dutifully reproduced truck heist from the first game, and more.
What surprised me most about Crossroads was the way the writers perfectly understood the films – they are ridiculous, but the characters take it all deadly seriously.
This is perfectly embodied in Sonequa Martin-Green and Asia Kate Dillon’s performances as Vienna and Cameron respectively. Both actors are clearly having fun with their parts while being chased by cops or escaping stone avalanches. There’s a warmth to their banter, and even as they’re presented with ever-sillier scenarios, they are each other’s found family.
Similarly, Tyrese Gibson is along for the ride. A behind-the-scenes feature reveals that he improvised some of his performance, and it works. Michelle Rodriguez and Vin Diesel show up and occasionally deliver a good line too – I’ll never forget ‘I ain’t chasing him, he’s running from me’ as the best/worst bit in the script.
It’s been impossible for a fan like me to avoid seeing the critical reception Crossroads has received, and it feels like a misunderstanding of what the game is delivering – it is not a car simulator or an arcade racer, it is a Fast & Furious emulator.
As a fan of the franchise and as a player I want to pull off ridiculous stunts — if I want to wrap my car around a piece of masonry, magically bounce off and carry on without much speed lost, Crossroads delivers. The challenge level is certainly easy, but the sensation of nitrous-fueled boosts through swamps to catch a hovercraft are meant to be experienced without constant restarts and ‘physics’ getting in the way. Realistic simulation is not what the Fast & Furious films are about.
The only thing I can concede in terms of criticism is that Crossroads can look rough around the edges, and doesn’t exceed what one might expect from an Xbox 360. Also, for a game that has Vin Diesel’s own development studio involved, they should have improved his character model.
Overall, Fast & Furious: Crossroads is a fabulous celebration of the sloppy, sometimes-inexplicable dumbness, sometimes-inspired madness of the films it shares a name with, and I loved every minute of it.
Disclosures: This game is developed by Slightly Mad Studios and published by Namco Bandai. It is currently available on XBO, PS4, and PC. This copy of the game was obtained via paid download and reviewed on the XBO-X. Approximately 6 hours of play were devoted to the single-player mode, and the game was completed. No time was spent in multiplayer modes — I was unable to review this portion of the game as it was insufficiently populated
Parents: According to the ESRB, this game is rated T and contains Violence, Mild Suggestive Themes, Language. There is a lot of swearing in this game, the suggestive themes are limited to some affectionate kisses and a few comments about sex. I didn’t have anywhere to put it in my review, but the game continues the films’ trend of diversity with Asia Kate Dillon’s character being non-binary and referred to as ‘they’ throughout and the game basically doesn’t make a big deal of it, it just is. All the violence is bloodless.
Colorblind Modes: There are no colorblind modes available in the options.
Deaf & Hard of Hearing Gamers: The game is fully playable without sound as there are no significant audio cues necessary for play. Text cannot be resized, nor can the color be changed
Remappable Controls: Certain functions are remappable, and the Y-axis can be inverted.