The Fast and the Furious Hands-On Impressions

Vivendi Universal shows off its upcoming racer based on the film series of the same name.

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We recently had a chance to check out a new build of The Fast and the Furious, a racing game based on the film series about illegal street racing. The structure of The Fast and the Furious is actually a little different from that of most standard racing games. Instead of having several different race types to choose from in a menu, The Fast and the Furious essentially makes the city of Los Angeles the menu in a Grand Theft Auto-type setup where you can drive to different locations and engage in a variety of races. In fact, the game has been modeled to reflect everyday life. You won't see a lot of drag races occurring during the day, since everyone is out working in the city, but as the sun starts to set and people begin hitting the streets, you'll start to find more and more opponents.

When you're driving around the city and happen to see a part of the street highlighted in yellow, that basically means you can participate in a drag race. If you want to purchase a car, you simply pull into one of the game's several dealerships (which are connected to actual car manufacturers such as Mazda and Nissan). If you need to fix up your car or add new features--such as spoilers, skirts, decals, better engines, or better tires--then you can pull up into a garage.

The game won't have you aimlessly wandering around the city, looking for spots where you can race. For example, at certain points in the game, you'll receive missions over your cell phone. The one mission we tried out had us delivering an item to a specific location in the city before the day was over--an hour in the game passes with every minute in real life. When you successfully complete missions or win races, you'll receive reputation points. As you gain more and more reputation points, you'll start to receive more challenges when you're out cruising the streets. It will also be easier to issue challenges when you pull up next to potential opponents.

The PlayStation 2 version of The Fast and the Furious is scheduled for release on November 4. The Xbox version will be hitting store shelves sometime in early 2004.

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