Hands on with Fast & Furious: Adrenaline

We get behind the wheel for I-play's attempt at a fresh start

Hands on with Fast & Furious: Adrenaline

The Fast & Furious franchise has always made for better video games than it has movies. The same brand of over the top action, outlandish cars and varied set-pieces that provokes such scorn from its movie-going detractors (although it has its fans) is just what we want in an arcade racer.

The series reached a new high with Fast & Furious on iPhone, with developer Firemint turning in one of the finest racers on the platform. Now Firemint has moved on from the franchise, leaving I-play to bring development of the sequel in-house.

I-play has given us a beta build of Fast & Furious: Adrenaline to take for a spin. Read on for our initial thoughts.

Given the pink slip

The first thing to point out is that the focus of the game has shifted subtly. It’s still a raucous arcade racer, of course, but the whole pink slip system (whereby you’d race to win your opponents’ rides and keep your own) that lay at the heart of the last game has gone.

Cars are now unlocked as you gain Fury Points, which are awarded for boosting, overtaking, speeding, and generally driving like a loon. Fury Points gradually level you up, lending the game a mild RPG feel.

What you’re really driving for this time is territory, which is displayed on a map of LA. You have to select which gangs you’ll engage before competing in a series of events (street races, time trials, drag races) that, if successfully contested, will let you prize their turf away from them.

It’s essentially an elaborate level-select system, but it’s a nice change of style from the previous game’s rather clunky ‘scene selection’ system. The freedom to approach the game from a variety of angles is also a welcome one.

Marking your territory

The territorial side of things has been carried through to the multiplayer mode. Here you can respond to a bunch of race times laid down by human players in order to win territory.

In practice this only seems to be a simple figure in the top right hand corner of the screen, rather than a downloadable ‘ghost’ of the player’s run. Still, it undoubtedly adds a sense of competition to proceedings.

You also have the ability to ‘brag’ about your achievements – both in single-player and multiplayer – on Facebook, which will no doubt add a whole new level of competitive allure for those who are active on the social networking site.

Elsewhere, you can indulge in some more traditional multiplayer hijinks, but only if they’re sat next to you (via Bluetooth) or are on the same network as you (via wi-fi).

Handle with care

What will really determine if Fast & Furious: Adrenaline is as successful as its predecessor, though, is the driving itself. After all, I-play has effectively started from scratch since the last game – a game that, lest we forget, boasted one of the best handling models we’ve seen in an iPhone racer.

It’s too early to tell if Adrenaline has exceeded or even matched its predecessor in that regard – we need more time with a finished build before we can make that judgement. Our initial impressions are that it’s rather less direct and a little more ponderous – which isn’t necessarily a bad thing when negotiating gradual and fast bends.

Other notable changes in the gameplay include a dramatic slo-mo cut away whenever you leave the tarmac, which reflects the franchise’s filmic roots. Again, we’ll need more time with it to see if this proves a hindrance in the long run.

All in all, Fast & Furious: Adrenaline is shaping up to be an interesting attempt to take the series in a different direction. Some work still needs to be done in terms of the framerate and one or two bugs, but you’d expect that from an unfinished build.

Like Michael Schumacher turning up with a new car, we’ll be intrigued to see if this old champ still has it in them to take the chequered flag.

Jon Mundy
Jon Mundy
Jon is a consummate expert in adventure, action, and sports games. Which is just as well, as in real life he's timid, lazy, and unfit. It's amazing how these things even themselves out.