Fast & Furious Crossroads is a movie tie-in game without a film to actually tie itself to. The coronavirus pandemic has delayed Fast & Furious 9 to April 2021, leaving Slightly Mad Studios in an understandably awkward position. The Project CARS developer has decided to pull the trigger and launch the game, but it would have been far better off doing the same as its big picture-counterpart. For a full-price release, Fast & Furious Crossroads is worryingly light on content, far too basic, and broken online.
Publisher Bandai Namco has decided to show very little of the game prior to launch, so for starters, we think it's important to clarify what sort of experience it actually is. This is an entirely linear undertaking made up of traditional races, trips from point A to point B, and the sort of set-piece moments the Fast & Furious franchise is known for. You are restricted to following a single path through any given city -- following in-game directions you can collide with -- and will never control a character outside of a car. These three mission types attempt to carry the title from start to finish, but they're not even enough to inspire interest in a campaign that can be completed in less than four hours.
And while the narrative weaving these scenarios together is suitably ludicrous, its stakes raise at such a pace that it can be tough to keep up. Two newcomers to the series become wrapped up in a plot to take down a global crime organisation after a member kills one of their boyfriends who is the absolute spitting image of actor Chris Hemsworth. It then doesn’t take too long before INTERPOL is involved and you're trying to stop a space rocket from launching. Yeah, that sounds like Fast & Furious.
What doesn't, however, is the voice acting. Vin Diesel, Michelle Rodriguez, and Tyrese Gibson reprise their roles as Dom, Letty, and Roman from the films and its Rodriguez who does most of the heavy lifting. Her delivery and lines are bang average for the most part, but it’s Vin Diesel who really steals the show. For all the wrong reasons, that is. He must have thought this project was one big joke because a lot of his dialogue is delivered in the most deadpan way possible. You can just tell he'd been laughing at the script in-between takes.
But what of the gameplay? Fast & Furious Crossroads is a very arcadey take on racing, complete with a control scheme that sees you drifting around corners and an extremely generous collision system. Vehicle handling is easy to get to grips with so there's very little to actually worry about when it comes to completing objectives. However, they're so dull that sometimes a race into oncoming traffic is needed just to give you something to focus on. Roads are littered with opportunities to cause a bit of destruction just for the hell of it while snapshot spots seem designed around a Photo Mode that doesn't actually exist.
Thanks to that, the game is tedious and basic enough to send even the most caffeine-obsessed drivers to sleep. Races are all too easy and the trips from point to point are dull as dishwater -- there is quite literally nothing to them. Not even a couple of classic tailing missions can save it.
The small silver lining to all this is the levels that do actually attempt to emulate the sort of set-pieces you'd witness on the big screen. From taking down a car carrier trailer and stopping a high-speed train through to destroying a gigantic hovercraft, these missions up the ante to provide a moderate level of excitement. They're by no means impressive, but it's at least a step above anything else the game is trying to do. You will do this by switching between characters on the fly to make use of the unique weapons and tools their cars come equipped with.
We've got a harpoon that rips armour off of vehicles, a hacking device that renders cars immobile, rockets to destroy anything in your path, and wheel spikes to wreck the tires of enemies. Every car can also ram opponents off the road, leading to a takedown in the style of Burnout Paradise. It's nowhere near as flashy or impressive as the Criterion Games classic, however. When used in tandem, these are the abilities that'll get the job done.
And, for the most part, these sequences are fairly enjoyable. It's the one thing Fast & Furious Crossroads just about manages to get right with high-speed action and copious amounts of carnage. But, of course, there had to be a downside sooner or later. The aforementioned abilities can be rather unwieldy as the harpoon comes with frustrating fail states where the rope will detach itself and the wheel spikes suffer from poor hit detection. They can put a bit of a downer on things when you feel like you've done everything correctly.
Even the camera angle gets in the way -- sitting far too close to the car itself and dramatically reducing your field of view. This leads to situations where you don't know what’s happening around or behind you, meaning you can crash into cars you didn't know were there or a barrier that shaves seconds off your time. That’s unfair, to say the least.
Another source of negativity would be the game's visuals. There's no beating around the bush, it looks like a PlayStation 3 title and even that can be considered a compliment once or twice. Character models look absolutely horrendous, environments are devoid of beauty, and the cars themselves lack any sort of flair or excitement. There is absolutely nothing redeemable here and the cutscenes actually go one step further. They introduce framerate drops and comedic moments where every single NPC in a shot uses exactly the same model. The pedestrians you race past don't fare much better as they appear to have lost movement in their legs -- not a single one moves from their allocated positions on the pavement. Rest assured, Fast & Furious Crossroads does not look anywhere near as good as the official screenshots accompanying this review would suggest.
Don't you worry though, we're not done just yet. Fast & Furious Crossroads ships with a broken multiplayer mode that only manages to successfully load into a match roughly half the time. Over a weekend of testing, we were greeted by a blank, white screen after successfully managing to matchmake (a rare occurrence in itself) all too much. This meant we had to quit and try all over again.
When we did make it into a match, this 3v3v3 multiplayer mode revealed itself to be a bit of a mess. Nine players are split into teams of Heroes, Villains, and Cops, with each sporting their own objective. Heroes and Villains must take a piece of equipment for themselves while the Cops have to arrest as many racers as possible. When put into practice, this quickly devolves into teams crashing into one another over and over again. There's no real strategy to any of it. The mode does allow you to level up and unlock new cars, but this is a multiplayer tack on that will die a very quick death.
How Fast & Furious Crossroads wound up as a full-price release will forever remain a mystery. It is lacking in every department possible, from shallow and repetitive gameplay through to abysmal visuals that belong on the previous generation of consoles. Not even the most committed Fast & Furious fans should subject themselves to this monstrosity. That is unless you want to have a good laugh alongside Vin Diesel.