Fast & Furious: Showdown

Once again, Activision has demonstrated very little faith in its handheld offerings, pushing out Fast & Furious: Showdown with very little fanfare.

You'd be forgiven for assuming that this stealth launch is an attempt to slip the game past the critics and straight into the waiting arms of the fans, but that wouldn't be entirely fair. While it's not perfect, Fast & Furious: Showdown is enjoyable enough at its core.

If it weren't so marred by frustrating flaws this would be a lovely racer. As it stands, it deserves only a very qualified recommendation - if that.


Let's get the story out of the way first: it's utter tripe. Not only is it completely disconnected from reality and logic, but it's woefully acted and contains bits of dialogue that can only have been designed to cause offence.

In one particularly jaw-dropping scene, the phrases, "you're a crazy Asian" and, "stop acting like a girl" come shooting from the mouth of the protagonist in quick succession, like blasts from a double-barrelled shotgun of inane bigotry.

This is found in the Fast & Furious mode, which supposedly spans the entire story of the franchise. It's difficult to recognise any of your favourite characters, though, because the visuals are rarely up to the task of depicting them.

Cars are boxy and indistinct, gunfire looks like it's coming from a spud gun, and cars don't so much as explode as pop. The draw distance is pretty good, and the frame rate holds steady, but at night the low-resolution textures blur together so much that you can barely see what's in front of you.

None of this discourages the game from believing that it has the right to halt the action every so often to zoom and pan in slow motion around every rival vehicle you take down.

The soundtrack is quite limited, and almost universally filled with dreary urban acts rapping about being the best at various things.


What's most depressing about this release is that it's fundamentally a decent racing game.

There are dozens of levels to beat, and beating them is genuinely tricky. Just a couple of mistakes per race, shoot-out, hijack, or whatever will see you restarting the mission. Occasionally your AI partner will spoil your event by failing to drive or shoot properly, but this can usually be rectified by jumping into their bodies with a press of a button.

Once you've exhausted the Story mode, there's a Challenge mode in which to build up more victories and unlock further content through the experience system. These goodies aren't very exciting - mainly more mods for vehicles, concept art, and movie stills - but it's a decent rate of unlocks, and just enough incentive to continue.

The handling of the cars is responsive, and though it veers towards arcade racing with its action, the vehicles do feel weighty. Boosting is a little ineffective, which is a pity, as this removes the motivation to build it up by weaving through traffic, drifting, drafting, or driving the wrong way up a freeway.

Fast & Furious: Showdown is a decent game if you ignore everything but the racing, and with a little more time in the shop it could have really shone. It's just a pity that its bodywork is so rusted and faulty that its failings detract from the driving experience.

Fast & Furious: Showdown

It's not flashy, fast, or furious enough to satisfy fans of the series on which it's based, and it's got too many flaws to recommend to a wide audience. But there's a grain of excellence here struggling to be seen
Peter Willington
Peter Willington
Die hard Suda 51 fan and professed Cherry Coke addict, freelancer Peter Willington was initially set for a career in showbiz, training for half a decade to walk the boards. Realising that there's no money in acting, he decided instead to make his fortune in writing about video games. Peter never learns from his mistakes.