It is flat-out unbelievable that it took some eight movies before somebody got around to licensing The Fast and the Furious for a racing game. Luckily, it was worth the wait; Anki Overdrive: Fast & Furious is an absolute blast.
Overdrive has actually been kicking around since 2015. Essentially a high-tech update of slot racing, if you ever spent a Christmas morning assembling an elaborate plastic racetrack you’ll get the gist of the game pretty quickly. The new wrinkle is that there’s no slot: the cars – Dom Toretto’s Ice Charger and Hobbs’ MXT in the F&F starter kit – are controlled by an app. Once you assemble the modular track, which snaps together easily using magnets, the game’s AI “maps” it, with the cars running a quick test lap before the race proper. The AI keeps the cars on track during the race, but you can change lanes by tilting your phone, letting you maneuver around your opponent and even attempt sideswipes and blocking.
Oh, and there are guns, guys! You can load up your car with weapons and gadgets, from gatling guns to grappling hooks, tractor beams and nitro boosters, buying them from the in-game store with prize money accrued as you win your way up the campaign ladder. This is what really pushes up the playability factor here – Overdrive isn’t so much a racing game as a carnival of car combat, with up to four players vying to leave their opponents scattered across a wide swathe of bitumen.
You don’t even need a friend to play – you can compete against the game’s AI. The conceit of the F&F edition, of course, is that you’re racing against the Toretto crew, with Vin Diesel, Dwayne Johnson, Ludacris, and Michelle Rodriguez all lending their voices to the experience. Having said that, the real fun is in going head to head with your mates in PVP battle mode.
Yes, it’s a fairly violent, aggressive game, but the intuitive controls and simple set-up make it pretty kid-friendly. To test that, we had budding critic Róisín Farrell Treacy, age nine, put F&F Overdrive through its paces, and it seemed to pass muster:
“I honestly got addicted to racing and battling with the cars. The thing I liked the most was the fact you could buy guns in the app and shoot the other players even though the guns were in the app. In the game you get two pieces that are jump pieces, which means your car goes up one piece and jumps off to the other, which I find fun to do and exciting to watch. Despite the price this is amazing! It costs so much because of all the sensors and lights in the cars. Overall it’s really fun and a game I would recommend.”
Those jump pieces are actually part of an expansion bundle the good folks at Anki threw our way and are not included in the basic set, and yes, you can get additional track pieces to build as large and elaborate a set-up as you care to.
Overall, Overdrive Fast & Furious is an absolute blast. The only thing that might give prospective racers pause is the price, which hovers around the $299 mark. Still, extended campaign play, expansions and the opportunity to crush your mates in an all-out road war means it’s just about worth the investment. Now if only they’d pick up the Mad Max license…
For more info, shoot over to the official site.