Hands-off Preview – Fast & Furious: Spy Racers Rise of SH1FT3R

I learned two important things during Outright Games‘ OG Unwrapped preview event. The first was that, somehow, there is a Fast & Furious animated series. No, really. They actually made a family-friendly version of that franchise aimed at young teens, starring a young kid who’s supposedly Dom’s cousin. The second thing I learned during this event is that a game based off said Netflix show is in development and coming out soon, titled Fast & Furious: Spy Racers Rise of SH1FT3R.

Spy Racers

They’re taking Dom’s usage of the word “family” quite literally in here.

What should we expect from a family-friendly Fast & Furious game? Well, besides cars, that is. After last year’s Fast & Furious Crossroads, I thought that there was no way a game based on the franchise would even moderately impress me. But from what I could check out at the preview event hosted by the developers at 3DClouds, Fast & Furious: Spy Racers Rise of SH1FT3R promises to be a bit different. I’m not going to say I left the event with my jaw dropped to the floor. Far from it, but it still surpassed my expectations. Basically, I actually want to play it now.

The little that was shown from the game showcased its main gameplay gimmick. It’s a racing game featuring more realistic cars, but powerups and items from a kart racer. You can drift and boost in various locales, with each in-game cup being based on a season from the show. And somehow, the damn thing is already in its fifth season.

I know what you’re thinking right now. “Realistic cars and powerups”? Yes, my friends, from what I could witness, the game is heavily inspired by one of the most underrated racing games from the PS3/Xbox 360 era, the one and only Blur. From throwing projectiles onto enemies, to being attacked by a barrage of screen-filled paint and looking for shortcuts in urban environments, the demo reminded me of that criminally underappreciated racing game more than once. The fact that an entire chunk is based on my homeland of Brazil did help as well.

I am still not sure how good the game will be in terms of controls, nor its lasting appeal (there are multiple unlockables obtained by spending in-game currency), but I expected a LOT worse. In fact, I honestly think Fast & Furious: Spy Racers Rise of SH1FT3R might become a hit among its target audience. It certainly didn’t impress me with its visuals or sound design (even if it’s fully voiced), but it is shaping up to become a racing game with a specific gameplay loop that’s sorely missing in today’s landscape. Who would have thought that the contender for “the next Blur” could eventually become a kid-friendly F&F game? Let’s wait and see.

Fast & Furious: Spy Racers Rise of SH1FT3R is scheduled for a November 2021 release for PS4, Xbox One, PC, and Switch.