Review – Fast & Furious: Spy Racers Rise of SH1FT3R

Finding out about the existence of a family-friendly Fast & Furious cartoon series was probably more shocking than learning about Outright Games and 3DClouds’ Fast & Furious: Spy Racers Rise of SH1FT3R back during the publisher’s preview showcase. Then again, I did grow up watching Saturday morning cartoons based on Mortal Kombat, Men in Black, and Godzilla, so who am I to judge? Fast & Furious: Spy Racers Rise of SH1FT3R actually looked promising, even though I couldn’t play it during the event. I had to tackle it to see if it would deliver all the elements it was promising, such as competent controls, performance, and a nice balance between arcade fun and a more elaborate progression system.

Fast & Furious: Spy Racers Rise of SH1FT3R Drift

Learning to drift is learning to win.

Fast & Furious: Spy Racers Rise of SH1FT3R is a weird goose. It’s a racing game aimed at a young audience, but it isn’t a kart racer. It has you driving cars with moderately well-crafted physics, being heavily focused on drifting in order to turn on sharp corners. At the same time, it is far from a racing sim, because of its colorful aesthetics and the fact that there are items you can use both offensively and defensively. It reminded me a lot of Blur, but in a less arcadey way. It really marches to the beat of its own drum, and while confusing at first, since I was expecting something easygoing like 3DClouds’ previous racing games, I ended up liking its gameplay loop.

Basically, you drive your car through well-designed urban locales, drifting and performing tricks in order to fill up a special meter. Each car has four different kinds of special moves: a frontal shot (takes a fourth of your meter), a trap (half a meter), a boost (three fourths of a meter), and a special attack/boost which is specific to the character you’re using. Essentially, it ditches Mario Kart‘s random item placement in favor of an additional element of strategy, which ended being a LOT better than expected, considering that every single character has a special move that actually doesn’t suck. Everything is surprisingly balanced, with each character driving and attacking in different yet fair ways.

Fast & Furious: Spy Racers Rise of SH1FT3R Graphics

We’ve come a long way since the first Fast & Furious from 2001, y’all.

I liked the progression system as well, mostly due to how simple it is. You win currency every time you win a race and/or a chapter (essentially a four-race tournament). Use said money to buy skins, music, and new characters at the Yoka Shop. Sounds beyond basic, but considering how convoluted some progressions system have turned into in modern games, I actually appreciate the back-to-basics format adopted by Fast & Furious: Spy Racers Rise of SH1FT3R. You also have to unlock new levels by completing previous tournaments, giving you an extra incentive to unlock everything the game has to offer via normal gameplay.

It has its issues, but all in all, Fast & Furious: Spy Racers Rise of SH1FT3R‘s gameplay ended up being pretty good. I have my qualms with it, though, most of them stemming from its presentation, which is something shared with almost every single game published by Outright Games. It is not exactly a visually impressive game, but it does run well enough during races (the framerate is atrocious during cutscenes). Finally, while the soundtrack is not entirely bad, the voice acting sure is. In true 3DClouds fashion, characters simply do not shut up while racing, often uttering annoying one-liners whenever you use a special move or overtake an opponent. It’s loud and poorly mixed.


It’s a lot more action-packed than you’d expect.

Let’s put it this way: given the franchise’s atrocious track record in the gaming world, the fact that Fast & Furious: Spy Racers Rise of SH1FT3R is not only not bad, but actually a pretty good (and even occasionally challenging) action-packed racer is a cause for celebration. It’s not exactly the most newcomer-friendly racer, especially considering its core audience, but if you’re looking for something a bit more challenging than Mario Kart, but still nowhere near as realistic as Forza, you could do a lot worse. Not to mention the fact that, as previously predicted, this is the closest to a spiritual successor to Blur we’ll ever get.


Graphics: 7.0

By no means the most visually impressive racing game out there, but its levels are well-designed, and it runs pretty well.

Gameplay: 7.5

The physics are a bit tricky at first, as the car handling is a bit stiff and overly reliant on drifting. It also takes some time to get used to the item-based combat and trick system, but once you figure everything out, you’ll realize this game is a lot deeper than you would have ever imagined.

Sound: 6.0

I will admit that the soundtrack ended up being way better than expected, but just like with most Outright-published titles, the voice acting is still pretty bad.

Fun Factor: 8.0

Not exactly the most newcomer-friendly racing game, despite its target audience, but if you’re looking for a lower budgeted spiritual successor to Blur, look no further.

Final Verdict: 7.5

Fast & Furious: Spy Racers Rise of SH1FT3R is available now on PS4, Xbox One, PC, and Switch.

Reviewed on Xbox One.

A copy of Fast & Furious: Spy Racers Rise of SH1FT3R was provided by the publisher.