The Fast and the Furious - PS2 - Preview

From Eutechnyx, the makers of Street Racing Syndicate, comes a new street racer based on a movie that has influenced many of today's street racing games: The Fast and the Furious. Taking place in the new Tokyo Drift setting, the game combines the best of the old – slick cars, cool city environments, nitrous boost acceleration, etc. – with the best of the new: drifting.

Keeping with the idea that steering is harder at breakneck speeds, The Fast and the Furious' controls are somewhat rigid. Roads were not overly populated in this build, allowing me to win races freely and cruise the city openly without having to worry too much about slamming into another vehicle. Roadblocks weren't all that common, nor did I encounter any invisible walls or other strange areas that typically prevent the player from fully exploring an area (since, in most cases, there is nothing left to see because the area ended). I was able to go wherever, whenever I wanted.

 

No arrows popped up to show me where to go. No emblems appeared on the map, though there were signs and various indicators telling me that I had arrived at another dealership. That didn't do me much good at first as I was broke and needed a race. If only I could find one...

I paused the game, assuming a map would appear. I was right, but rather than just give me an indication as to where to go next, it enabled me to warp directly to the location of the next tier of races. Onto the checkered flag.

Or so I hoped. Races take place in the same huge, open-ended city that makes up the game's world map. Without any check points or track markings to tell me where to go, the enemy – I mean my opponent – had a serious advantage. He always seemed to know the layout, never taking a wrong turn. I, on the other hand, had to fight hard to get the upper hand, and had to fight even harder to keep it. Some races were a straight shot (or pretty close to it), leaving little room for player confusion. Others, however, were a bit more expansive, having the player turn frequently and eventually perform a 180 without warning. It's a safe bet that the developers are already in the process of making these races a little clearer, as newer or impatient gamers could easily lose their way playing the game in its current state.

Once the layout was clear in my head, I had another obstacle to overcome: relentless adversaries. A lot of racing games rank opponent status with the cash prize. Low cash prizes generally result in an easier race, making them the perfect entry-level challenges.

 

Not so in this game. The Fast and the Furious challenges players from the start with opponents who have more than a little Nos (nitrous oxide boost) under their hood. Prizes didn't seem to affect their difficulty too much. Some were harder than others, no doubt. But acquiring $1,500 from one opponent wasn't much easier than getting $3,000 from another. The $10,000+ cash prizes - good luck! Without much cash to upgrade or a better set of wheels, you won't get very far with them. Following the theme of the movie, this game is all about working your way up.

Fans of Need For Speed Underground should feel right at home with The Fast and the Furious. Its control scheme is very similar, as are the mechanics, including drift and nitrous techniques. Nitrous power is based on the upgrade level you're willing to pay for. Lower levels might be all you can afford, if you're a big spender and/or a big loser on the racetrack.

The rest of the upgrades work in a similar fashion. Most have a level rating – higher levels are more expensive but result in better performance. Right now the upgrades have limitations, and like most racing games cannot be combined for multiplied performance. A souped-up, tricked-out Mazda RX-7 isn't going to go as fast as a maximum performance, ultra-expensive ride. That's just common sense. Theoretically, however, I could change the insides of the RX-7 and turn it into an entirely different car (internally). I'd like the game to explore this possibility, but thus far the upgrade system has been pretty straightforward. I don't think it's likely that they'll tinker with this idea, especially when the game puts so much emphasis on earning cash to buy new vehicles.

http://download.gamezone.com/assets/old/gamezone/29/1/26/s29126_ps2_11.jpg

Flying off the highway and onto to store shelves this summer, The Fast and the Furious is prepared to meet your need for speed.

Gw
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