Fast & Furious Crossroads Review — Ejecto Seato From This One, Cuz
"Hey yo, Dom! Why'd you bring the buster here?"
Fast & Furious Crossroads
Slightly Mad Studios
Bandai Namco Entertainment
Xbox One, PC
Review copy provided by the publisher
Last year, I excitedly went to see Hobbs & Shaw in theaters on opening night. Sure, it didn’t star the Fast & Furious characters I personally cared about, but I still figured it could deliver based on its star power. Speaking for myself, I thought the movie was okay. It had its share of over-the-top action, but it lacked the certain something that makes the Fast & Furious franchise special. In a series all about family, this felt like we were following two weird uncles on a bender after a particularly spicy Thanksgiving dinner. Entertaining, but not what we’re here for.
Fast & Furious Crossroads feels somewhat similar. Except, replace two major action stars who have real ties to the series with two leads I couldn’t care less about. One is a bore and the other is the kind of person who thinks they’re funny, but painfully isn’t. Now, sure, Crossroads does bring in some fan favorites, but not even Dominic Toretto is enough to save this mess.
Let’s talk first about the story. As someone who’s maybe too invested in the franchise lore, it feels appropriate to start there. In short, it’s incredibly bland. I won’t spoil everything for you below, but it’s not worth worrying about spoilers anyway. The main mode is only about four hours long, and you can guess what’s going to happen from the first few missions.
“In a series all about family, this felt like we were following two weird uncles on a bender after a particularly spicy Thanksgiving dinner.”
The thrust of the narrative is that two friends named Vienna and Cam are on the run in Barcelona. There, they meet up with Letty, who knows V through everyone’s favorite tech whiz Tej. The duo decides to join Letty in her hunt for a secret clan of road criminals who are trying to destroy the US. Or maybe the world? I stopped caring pretty early.
From there, the three meet up with Dom and Roman as they try to infiltrate the bad guys and figure out what they’re doing. It’s all action film hogwash that kind of makes sense and only serves to funnel you from set piece to set piece.
Here’s the thing though. This is a full-priced, $60 game. It’s using a major license that features several big-name characters that fans love. Heck, Slightly Mad even went and got Peter freaking Stormare to voice the main bad guy. If any game in 2020 has Hollywood star power behind it, it’s this one.
So, why in the world am I playing as two characters I have no reason to care about? I guess you could argue that new fans to the series need someone they can relate with. But for one, it’s cute of you to think this thing is going to bring in new fans. More importantly, like 90% of the “jokes” won’t land if you haven’t seen the movies. So, again, why is the focus not these major stars that, presumably, are the reason you need to charge $60?
Look, this isn’t meant to be a knock on V and Cam’s actors. They actually do a decent job with what I found to be bad material. However, people don’t come to Fast & Furious to hang out with new characters they’ve never heard about. They come for the family. It’s just baffling that we got these two and not Mia, Tej, Han, or even Sean.
I mean, it’s not like Lucas Black is drowning in work these days. The dude is even on NCIS: New Orleans which is where the last act of the game takes place. The jokes write themselves!
“That said, even if Crossroads did get the team back together, it probably wouldn’t be enough.”
That said, even if Crossroads did get the team back together, it probably wouldn’t be enough. As much as I would love to tell you that the team absolutely nailed what a Fast & Furious game should feel like, they simply haven’t.
The driving is so far past arcade racing that it feels more like you’re driving a boat after downing a few too many Coronas. The whole game feels like you’re Brian from that first race against Dom in the original movie. If Vin Diesel were sitting beside me while I play, I feel like he’d constantly just be yelling “You never had your car!” as I wildly swing around each track.
And, this is surprising given that the developer has put out two well-received sim racers. I guess the switch between the two styles of racers is just a much bigger gap than I imagined. Who knows?
It’s a shame too because, for as bad as the game feels, Crossroads does have a decent understanding of what makes the spectacle of Fast & Furious work. Obviously, in a perfect world, we’d get a fully-realized GTA-like game for the series, but that’s unlikely to ever happen. So, splitting the difference and adding some car combat is a good step.
Unfortunately, because the cars handle like the discount RC car my grandma got me for my tenth birthday. You don’t really get to put your tools to use all that much.
“Crossroads does have a decent understanding of what makes the spectacle of Fast & Furious work.”
Take for example the level where you’re trying to catch a speeding train. Each character in your party has their own special skill and you can swap to them at any moment. That’s rad. In a better game, it would make for an awesome moment that you’d talk to your friends about.
In Crossroads, it’s a frustrating mess. Not only is your car sliding all over the place, but you also need to deal with scores of enemy cars knocking you around. At the same time, you’re trying to get through timing-based mini-games with your various skills. And, if a car bumps you too far off the track, the mini-game drops off and you have to wait for its cooldown to finish and try again.
On top of all this, there’s stuff exploding everywhere and lights flashing all over the screen. It’s just a complete mess that doesn’t feel fun to play. I can count on two fingers the number of times I thought “Whoa, that was awesome,” but I don’t know if I have enough hairs on my head to count how often I thought of ripping them all out of my skull. It’s beyond frustrating.
The game is just shooting itself in the foot at every corner. Another great example is that, about halfway through the game, you have to take part in a lengthy street race. Keep in mind, you literally never do this at any other point in the game outside of a race you can’t lose. This is the first and last time you’ll be in a race with actual consequences.
And, if you’re me, you’ll lose a lot. Then, you’ll start over from the top, listen to an unskippable string of dialogue, and do it all over again. It is, maybe, my least favorite gaming moment of 2020. Not only do the cars handle like slippery dookie, but they don’t even give you a mini-map. That may sound small, but in racing games, it’s actually massive.
You have no idea which turns are coming up, so you can’t plan out the race. Instead, you’re just going on blind hope. You can’t even watch the racers in front of you. When they slow down for a turn tons of smoke comes out of their tires, which means you can’t see anything. I’m screaming just thinking about it.
Again, how is this in the game? Project Cars has a mini-map. Why can they not just give me that tiny little feature to make this race slightly more bearable? Even without that, every other mission checkpoints you when you fail and makes it much easier to progress. This just starts you from the top over and over again. I just can’t believe this made it into the shipping product. Like everything else, it boggles the mind.
As if that wasn’t enough, visually the game looks dreadful. I’m sure you already knew that from the trailers. However, the first time we saw Dom’s car in the prologue, my wife and I could only muster a disappointed, “Oh no.” And it gets worse. While the whole game looks like, at best, a PS3 title, the first tech in some of the cutscenes looks straight out of the original PlayStation. It’s almost laughably bad.
Then there’s the multiplayer. Or, at least, this is where I should talk about the multiplayer. The problem is that I sat in a lobby for an hour on a Friday night a few days after release and never got into a game. I don’t want to judge it without playing for myself, but I think that tells you everything you probably need to know.
“Fast & Furious Crossroads is like if Hobbs & Shaw was called Orange Julius & Slap Jack.”
As I said before, Crossroads really is a shame. Outside of John Wick and superhero movies, Fast & Furious is probably the best Western action series of the last decade. It certainly brings the heat at the box office. And, Vin Diesel has a history of helping put together some great games. Sadly, they just haven’t been able to make it work with this franchise.
And, truthfully, there are a few ideas here that could make a great Fast & Furious game. The switching between characters to use different abilities could be sick, and the game does have some jaw-dropping scenarios that would be a blast if the game played better.
But it doesn’t. Fast & Furious Crossroads is like if Hobbs & Shaw was called Orange Julius & Slap Jack. While I appreciate the five of you out there who understand that deep cut 2 Fast 2 Furious reference, I think we can all agree that that movie would be a slog. You’re probably safe to sit this race out. It’s not a quarter-mile worth living.