Fast & Furious: Spy Racers Rise of SH1FT3R
The Fast & Furious Gets The Kids Treatment
Before the Summer, I never knew that there was a TV spinoff for The Fast & Furious much less a children's show named Spy Racers. Rather than following the adventures of Dominic Toretto, the series introduces his little cousin Tony Toretto. Much like his older cousin, he has a crew that's tasked to go to locations around the world. I'm not too sure about Tony or the expansion of the Toretto family or his teammates.
I'm not even particular about the story itself. From what I can gather, there's a rival spy organization and some woman orders Toretto to handle it. The story is not Fast & Furious: Spy Racers Rise of SH1FT3R's crowning moment but the racing itself. Last year was a dark time for Fast & Furious because of the infamous Crossroads. Largely considered to be one of the worst games of all time, the only way Rise of SH1FT3R can go is up. That said, my expectations for Spy Racers were abnormally high, for an Outright Games title, for one main reason. It was a game developed by 3DClouds.
Fast & Furious: Spy Racers Borrows Elements Of Xenon Racer
Upon reaching the main menu, the game cuts into the protagonists playing a video game on a television screen. What's intriguing about this is that it's an easter egg for 3DClouds's previous work, Xenon Racer. This took me by surprise for several reasons, the main one being that I reviewed Xenon Racer a few months ago. The second is that I directly referenced this game as a project that I was interested in. A Fast & Furious game utilizing a similar engine to that of Xenon Racer sounded enticing at the time. Now with the release of Rise of SH1FT3R, does it live up to my lofty expectations?
Not quite, because I wasn't expecting a "kart racer" game from Fast & Furious. I suppose that makes sense considering the source materials are all spies. Contrary to Xenon Racer, the gameplay isn't "brake to drift," rather there's a designated drift button. Each car handles similar to each other, offering a bit of weightiness to them. Drifting must be done a little bit ahead of time or else the player will collide with the wall.
Welcome To Fast & Furious Kart! [Mario Voice]
What makes Fast & Furious: Spy Racers a "kart racer" is the usage of power-ups that the drivers will have access to. The more efficient the player drives, the faster they will gain access to stronger items up to their special ability. From the "weakest," lies a paintball gun that slows cars down on hit. Following that is a proximity mine, slowing cars as splash damage. The third tier is a nitrous boost that, as expected, gives the car a speed boost. Lastly, the final tier is their driver's special ability which is different for each racer. These abilities range from a shield + speed boost, a speed boost that attacks oncoming targets, and an ability that slows all surrounding targets.
I quickly learned that the difficulty can be brutal yet fun to survive on the hardest difficulty. Staying in the middle of the pack will force players in a world of hurt. The AI will not hesitate to bombard the player with paint, forcing them down several positions. The rubberband mechanics is some of the most forgiving I've ever felt in a game like this, however. This meant that I never was out of a race as I bounced from last to first place in one race. On medium difficulty and lower, the game is less than a challenge, sadly.
Fast & Furious: Spy Racers Is An Average, Passable Arcade Racer
A huge chunk of me was let down because I would have loved to have seen Spy Racers become a follow-up to Xenon Racer. It's obvious with the in-game Easter Egg that 3DClouds consider their game a good one as well. Perhaps it was because the IP was meant for teenagers, but the gameplay felt watered down. It's not a terrible game by any means, but it's just average at best. This isn't for lack of content either as there are over 17 tracks to choose from. The main critique is that the sounds can get annoying and repetitive, down to the music and character voices.
Overall, Fast & Furious: Spy Racers Rise of SH1FT3R is okay. Compared to other Outright Games we've looked at in the past, it is of the upper echelon. For racing fans, it's hard to recommend this game outside of a deep sale due to the handling being an acquired taste. Could it be a potential gift for a child? Absolutely. At least Rise of SH1FT3R is leagues better than Crossroads right?
Fast & Furious: Spy Racers Rise of SH1FT3R is available on the PC, PS4, Switch, and Xbox One.