It’s often difficult to decide which is worse – movie adaptations of popular video games, or video game conversions of Hollywood movies. What’s certain is that neither has a reputation for being groundbreaking.
Fast Five won’t change any opinions. Despite a couple of features that attempt to freshen an otherwise stale racer, it's exactly what we've all come to expect from a game with the same name as a film.
As a traditional arcade racer, the presentation is innocuous enough and the tracks are fairly well composed of long bends and helpful shortcuts. The latter are very important, thanks to an underpowered sense of acceleration.
The game makes a point of having secured a licence to include Dodge cars, with a few variants popping up in the selection screen. But the rest are the homegrown kind that take inspiration from real-life models.
There’s also the threat of obstacles such as trains or collapsing structures getting in your way. To compensate for this, the game includes an interesting 'rewind' feature to help you avoid crashes.
This is present in both Quick Race and Career mode (which roughly follows the plot of the movie via static screens, with the same few pictures of actors dubbed with badly voiced dialogue). But even the admittedly intelligent addition of a rewind mechanic can’t save Fast Five from its fatal flaws.
Perhaps the most tongue-bitingly annoying feature is that the car is set to accelerate automatically. While this is often a good solution on touchscreen phones, it simply feels like a cop-out on Xperia Play.
This irritation is only amplified by the fact that the drifting feels staid and clumsy and not at all like the kind of slippery joy provided by other racers like Need for Speed: Shift or the Asphalt series.
All this lack of control is, frankly, crippling to a racer promoted on Xperia Play – a device that prides itself on its specialisation of control. The Drag Race mode is the worst offender, asking you simply to push left or right with precise timing and let the computer do the rest of the work. This means you simply end up watching the screen with barely any input at all.
In a game like Drag Racing, any lack of input is offset by the ability to upgrade and customise your ride in very precise ways, while also offering car fetishists tons of licensed vehicles. But in Fast Five there's no such customisation.
You can earn money and choose between improving ‘Performance’ or ‘Appearance’. But selecting performance results in an increase of all stats at once, meaning there’s little tactical thinking about the pros and cons of certain components: just a thoughtless press of a single button.
All of these problems weigh heavily against Fast Five, particularly when there are so many other better racers already on the device.
For the car enthusiasts there’s Drag Racing, for the hardcore racers there’s Need for Speed, and for the arcade joy-seekers there’s Polarbit’s Reckless series. Fast Five: The Movie Official Game can't compete against those vehicles.