Burnout meets split second, in this enjoyable racer from Gameloft, that favours adrenaline over the laws of physics…
Much like the movie, this game is light on story and more focused on the action. However, while it does feature the same locales and cars as the movie, it’s regard for following the events of the film takes a backseat and instead focuses on what we all want from a game like this, and that’s the racing. The story elements are only there to tie together the next location and set of events.
There are 10 chapters in all, with each chapter comprising of four events. Each of these events offers up to three points (with maximum points going to a first place result). To move on to the next chapter you must score at least seven of the available 12 points, as well as beating a story event that introduces the next chapter and divulges a bit more of the movies’ story (though very loosely).
Racing pits you against 10 other street racers. The rules are very loose in that you can do pretty much anything to win. This includes taking out your opponents Burnout style, or using one of three nitro boosts to gain advantage.
Time attacks are just that, with you aiming to finish the lap within the first place time limit.
Elimination is similar to a race, but instead of finishing first, second or third, you must take out a quota of five vehicles within the time limit. With the event ending once complete, or once the timer ends, whichever comes first? This, like Burnout is probably the most fun event, thanks to the great slow-mo crashes.
Drag racing is a little odd in that your car is on rails, with the gear changing being the only element you need to control. Here you must time your gear changes perfectly to stay ahead. One nitro boost is available to you, and much like the first film if you peak to early you’ll most probably lose. Strangely, you can still steer the car if you wish, but there really is no need as it’s all taken care of automatically.
Last up is drifting, and it’s easily the most challenging aspect of the game thanks, in part, to a solid over-steer rule. That is, if you drift for too long without counter steering, you’ll spin out and lose those much needed drift points. Some events are easier than others to score the high points needed thanks to numerous wide arching corners, but some tracks are not as generous in this regard with narrow roads flanked by walls. Touch a wall and your drift multiplier will come to an end and you’ll score nothing.
I was impressed with the size and scope of the tracks. Many include multiple routes so it’s imperative that you learn the track layouts well if you want to shave off valuable seconds. Much like Disney’s Split Second game, the tracks in Fast Five feature destructible elements, designed to hinder your progress in an event. For no apparent reason, buildings, bridges, gas stations and cars will spontaneously explode in front of you, causing the track layout to change and for you to think on your feet for the best way round. Should you crash, the game offers up an instant rewind feature, allowing you to rewind back to before the incident and then to hit play to correct your mistake. It works well and far better than Split Second for iOS.
The presentation in game is of a far higher standard that is expected from a movie tie-in game. With highly detailed tracks, texturing, and car models, all bathed in realistic lighting. It’s as if Gameloft decided to use this as a test bed for their next outing in the Asphalt series, so I wouldn’t be surprised to see many of the same features and look and feel in Asphalt 7.
Controls work well too, with the best of the options being tilt controls. Being an arcade style racer the cars are easy to maneuver, and you’ll hardly need to use the brakes (other than drifting). Much like the movies these cars tend to disobey the laws of physics as well as gravity. In fact switch on nitro and the steering becomes even easier to control. It’s highly unrealistic of course, but anything else would spoil the flow of speed.
There are few things that drag [pardon the pun] the experience down somewhat. The main one for me is that the load times are mind numbingly long, sometimes over a minute. The game itself takes 30 seconds to boot from scratch, followed by a further 45 seconds for a track to load. With each chapter utilizing the same track, it’s odd that you should have to wait for the track to load between events.
The game offers up a Multiplayer mode, which is always an added bonus to any racer. I’m glad to see it here, but in my experience it’s a mixed bag. Many matchups take an age to connect, and on eventually making it to the grid after the long load times, the players may have disconnected. If you do get a decent gathering on track the game suffers from severe lag, with cars jolting all over the place, making hard to gauge takedowns.
I’m also not a big fan of un-lockable via in-app purchase. It’s personal taste but I don’t see the point in wanting to pay upwards of $10 to get instant cash to buy and pimp-out the cars in the garage menu, when it’s far more satisfying to work hard to unlock them yourself for free.
On seeing the movie I was surprised how little it focused on street racing, and instead using the cars as a tool to pulling off the heist. It’s a hugely enjoyable action film particularly the inevitable show down between Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson and Vin Diesel. The game then has little to do with the film, and as I said before, it simply takes the cars and locales to create a racing focused game. What surprises me here is how much care Gameloft has taken to craft a great experience, both with the presentation and the gameplay itself. So many movie tie-ins regularly fall well short of the mark in both these areas, so it’s a welcome shift.
Those expecting anything other than an arcade racer, that takes realism out of the equation in favour of high-speed thrills, will surely be disappointed. But then you are crazy to think that a game carrying the F&F moniker would be anything more.
Fast Five doesn’t bring anything refreshingly new to racing games, ripping many elements from similar games before it. But, it is a highly polished and enjoyable racer and can hold its head high on the AppStore amongst other quality titles such as NFS: Hot Pursuit and the Asphalt series.
Fast Five the movie: Official game is out now for $4.99. Get it on the