Distributor provided review copy. CROSSROADS is out now on PC, PS4, and Xbox.
The first mission in FAST & FURIOUS CROSSROADS promises more than the game can deliver. Letty and Dom, the power couple of the franchise, are chasing an informant down the Greek archipelago. Only he’s driving in a souped up military assault vehicle, complete with missiles. Nevertheless, our heroic duo take him down in an explosive race through wildly beautiful scenery with little care for safety or logic.
It’s big, loud, clumsy, poorly thought out, and everything that the franchise has been built on. In short the whole thing feels exactly what you’d expect from a licensed game like this.
Then both Letty and Dom disappear, only to be replaced by two (cheaper) newcomers to the franchise, who are about as interesting as driving school tutors, and the already threadbare plot comes to a complete standstill. Almost as if the developers were afraid to, or more likely told not to outshine the main franchise which has been delayed by a year due to the COVID19 pandemic.
So instead we get this middle chapter that’s neither here nor there in the jumbled narrative, cobbled together with lame missions and poor mechanics. On the surface it has everything that could be mistaken for potential, but these elements are misplaced before the key is even turned in the ignition.
The voice cast itself would be impressive if anyone actually wanted to be here. Even Michelle Rodriguez, who carries the game on her shoulders, sounds uncomfortable repeating the trite dialog. Even Peter Stormare, one of the most delightfully hammy character actors of his generation, is subdued.
Taking just under five hours to complete the main campaign, it also feels ludicrous that CROSSROADS is sold at full price. It feels like a DLC tie-in to a bigger game, something released to coincide with another product (which it is), but now lost on its own. There are only a handful of missions and the only reason the game is as long as it is because some of them are dreadfully slow. Tailing enemy NPC’s is particularly dour because the AI is erratic and, well, not very fun to play with. Chases fare slightly better, but they’re hampered by a constricted, poorly designed world where the routes are never as fun as the ones players could come up with.
There’s a multiplayer mode available as well, but during my three day period with the game I couldn’t find a single match to join. Whatever the reason could be, there just wasn’t a chance to try out the game mode with others. No couch co-op or split screen mode exists.
Worse is the constant sense that design elements have been left unfinished. There are signs all along the highway to crash into things or leap off from, some showcasing camera logos as if they’d be good for photo ops. But there is no such mechanic to be found, and no photography setting in the menus either. It’s just there and does nothing for the actual game.
Such is the case with the graphics, which seem to go from passable to looking like first run models in a PS3 game. Textures will pop in regularly, pedestrian models will glitch out and hover above the ground, cars won’t react to being hit, and collisions rarely do more than slow you down some. The moments that do work seem to be happy accidents than anything else.
The racing itself ranges from iffy to cow-in-a-shopping-trolley levels of absurdity. Developer Slightly Mad Studios has a background with decent to good racing games, so a certain level of competence is to be expected. But like with most of the game it just feels rushed, like there was a deadline to hit even if there wasn’t a product to market. So certain cars will slide for days at the mere nudge of a joystick, while others turn instantly in 90-degree angles as if gravity, friction, or logic didn’t exist.
Add to this a stunningly uninterested cast (Vin Diesel sounds even more wooden than normally) and there’s very little to recommend even to the most hardcore F&F fans. Sure, you’ll get a little bit of Dom and Letty and the rest of the crew – and by little I mean very little, their parts are basically cameos – but it’s not connected to any of the escapist fluff that propels the series proper.
Which is weird, considering that the mini-advertisement DLC in FORZA HORIZON was everything that this isn’t. Fast, fun, and silly entertainment where everyone seemed to be having a good time. And that was a spinoff for another property entirely! How is it that everyone feels so bored by their own game?
Whatever the answer may be, it’s just not worth digging into. Not even for four hours, and certainly not at full price. If life truly is lived, as Dom keeps repeating, a quarter mile at a time, CROSSROADS is like a wreck on the highway you pass by, momentarily lamenting the disaster, before it disappears into the rear-view mirror like a bad memory.