Odd design decisions, slip-shod pacing, wonky gameplay and a bad story are just the beginning here.
Fast and Furious Crossroads is a bad game. It’s a bad game in terms of its overall presentation, story-telling and gameplay. It’s a bad game with a number of questionable design decisions and performance problems. It’s a cash-grab, for sure, but also one that doesn’t cater to either spectrum of the franchise that it’s attempting to leverage. The real question isn’t whether anyone expected this to be good in the first place but rather how much it epitomizes the phrase “death by a thousand cuts.”
"Oddly enough, for a game that’s marketed so much on the appeal of Vin Diesel, there’s not a lot of him on-screen."
The “story” begins with Dominic Toretto and Letty Ortiz tracking down a lead that could provide clues to a potential terrorist attack. This leads to the discovery of the Tadakhul, an ancient band of highway robbers whose name apparently translates to “Crossroads.” Before you can say “That’s the name of the game!”, you’re whisked off to Barcelona and placed in control of Vienna, a racer with a shady past whose boyfriend Sebastian is involved with the Tadakhul. Obviously, Vienna and her friend Cameron eventually team with Dom and Letty on their journey to take down Kai, the Tadakhul’s leader/figurehead.
The number of logic jumps the plot makes, both in terms of character motivation and contrivance, is fairly extensive (and that’s saying something, considering the films it’s based on). Oddly enough, for a game that’s marketed so much on the appeal of Vin Diesel, there’s not a lot of him on-screen. Instead, you’ll alternate between the other cast members, mostly Vienna and Cameron, and while the voice actors try their best, the jarring dialogue and inane plot “twists” do them no favors. Do yourself a favor and don’t quit the game after a cutscene – you’ll just have to watch it all over again before playing a mission. And no skipping allowed.
Fast and Furious Crossroads plays like an arcade racer but even that feels disingenuous. It’s too busy jamming mechanics that are at odds with its fast-paced racing. Using a grappling hook to pull gas tanks off of a flamethrower-touting armored vehicle in the opening mission should be fun. However, it’s just a throwaway mechanic with some boring button mashing and chaotic fumbling.
"Slightly Mad Studios’ racing chops shine when it comes to that sensation of speed, especially when hitting the NOS or drifting past corners."
There are a lot of these throwaway mechanics in the game, from “hacking” other vehicles by using – get this – a WiFi router attached to the roof of your car to sideswiping foes and scoring Burnout-style takedowns. All of the gameplay happens from the driver’s seat while the story plays out in extensive cutscenes that drone on and on.
Due to this approach and the general haphazard story-telling, any sense of narrative transition is eventually tossed aside. One moment you’ll meet with Letty who mentions stealing some unmarked cars and the next, you’ve already stolen the cars and need to escape from some corrupt cops at night. One mission has you speeding down a highway, conducting a “heist” that makes Need for Speed Payback look like Ocean’s Eleven. When that’s done, suddenly you’re in Morocco and sign up with Interpol to go undercover, shooting the breeze about which cars to take before being saddled with a dinky old van. This is after an important character dies during the previous heist, by the way. Who could possibly care about anything that happens in this story?
Coming back to the gameplay, it feels responsive enough during actual races, even if the track design is far from ideal. Slightly Mad Studios’ racing chops shine when it comes to that sensation of speed, especially when hitting the NOS or drifting past corners. Handling also feels decent at times though this is diminished by the ridiculous physics. Instead of realistic damage, there’s a health bar and as long as you’re in the green, you can ram through as many cars on the road as you want. Said cars go flying with the slightest nudge though and only marginally hinder your vehicle. Unless the game explicitly says so, there’s no consequence to driving recklessly. It’s less exciting than it sounds, much like everything else in this game, and so narratively dissonant that it hurts.
"Textures and character models look last generation, until you remember racing titles like Gran Turismo 6 that looked and played way better."
Mission variety further kills your enthusiasm in that regard. Many times you’re tasked with driving to a point and watching a cutscene play out. Or maybe three points, followed by three cutscenes. During another, you’re tasked with slowly pursuing another vehicle without alerting them. Or driving sanely so that your passenger doesn’t get paranoid. Because when I play a Fast and Furious game, the first thing that comes to mind is following the rules. Then again, breaking the rules doesn’t matter outside of failing whatever the current objective is (or the mission design just being poor in general). You just can’t win, no matter what the scenario has to offer.
Tracks also feel overtly restrictive – you can go off-road, sure, but most times the game wants you to follow a set path with very few alternate routes in the process. It also doesn’t help that most of the levels look and feel like the same boring roads again and again. At one point, Vienna even sarcastically comments on driving through the same roads in Barcelona during different missions. And you thought Bungie’s Destiny was super-obvious when it came to recycling content.
In terms of visuals, Crossroads doesn’t look very good by today’s racing game standards. I don’t usually care that much about graphics but it has no business looking like this while outputting such shabby performance. Textures and character models look last generation, until you remember racing titles like Gran Turismo 6 that looked and played way better. Facial animation in cutscenes is fairly wooden, causing a stoic Toretto in the movies to look plain stiff here. The lack of options for customizing the graphics is also disappointing but expected. Outside of stuttering in cutscenes and an infinite loading bug that necessitated a restart, I didn’t encounter too many bugs. The music and sound effects are fine – nothing exceptional and certainly not worth going out of your way for.
"If this had been a Need for Speed Underground-style clone with a semi-open world structure, focused more on racing and building rivalries, then one could at least stick with the racing."
I wish I could tell you how the multiplayer was but it’s dead on arrival with no matches to be found. Good thing that a lot of the extra content isn’t locked behind ranking up in multiplayer. Oh wait.
Time is a flat circle – Fast and Furious Crossroads is still a bad game, one that’s both painfully long and insultingly short. It’s a game that fails to fulfill the action adventure premise of current films with much success thanks to boring objectives and lackluster mission design. The very brief sequences that it embraces the street racing of the first few films can be fun but even those are let down by poor track design and performance. If this had been a Need for Speed Underground-style clone with a semi-open world structure, focused more on racing and building rivalries, then one could at least stick with the racing. Alas, Fast and Furious Crossroads strives for loftier heights and falls that much harder as a result.
This game was reviewed on PC.
The driving feels somewhat decent when it comes to pure racing. Voice acting for some characters is fine. Family.
Poor presentation. Drawn-out cutscenes with annoying dialogue that can't be skipped. Laughable story and plot points, punctuated by inane character decisions. Throwaway mechanics that feel tacked on at best, annoying at worst. Terrible graphics that are made worse by underwhelming performance. Repetitive objectives and bland level design. Certain unlocks in the "Extras" menu gated behind multiplayer. Not enough Family.
No matter how you spin it, Fast and Furious Crossroads is just plain bad in nearly every way.